Monday, October 22, 2012

October Homes Update!

We'd love to share with you just a few great and wonderful things happening in our homes. 

In Mexico we had a new group arrive just a few weeks ago, including a baby, just 1 year old, with his brother and sister, along with another set of siblings. In Miacatlán we have a new sustainable project called Biobolsa, which is a “biodigestive” system. It uses the pig manure to create gas in the kitchen. 

In Haiti at St. Helene, we once again opened our doors to 26 new children, and twenty of our oldest children moved to the Don Bosco program to continue their studies. There are plans underway to drill a water-well on the St. Helene campus, and in addition there will be a water purification system put in place so that our 410 children will all benefit from clean drinking water. We'll no longer have to buy water and wait for it to be brought up the mountain by truck. At the Father Wasson Angels of Light (FWAL) program we held a great  summer camp where we had many activities for the children including basketball, volleyball and soccer. The St. Anne Baby House accepted 7 new toddlers and infants and has a solar project on the way to provide electricity in the new house for its 37 children. Also, construction of the FWAL Preschool is almost finished!

In Nicaragua our dance and music team is currently touring throughout the US sharing with everyone about Nicaragua, NPH and our culture by showing off their talents! The Samaritan Project continues to provide physical and occupational therapy to patients on Ometepe Island, and the construction at Casa Padre Wasson are going well. 

In El Salvador, Elena, one of our youths just graduated from nursing school, and is eager and able to begin her professional life! We have also had 10 successful months of supporting two of our children most in need, Manuel and Wendy, and their healthcare needs. 

In Guatemala we just celebrated our 16th Anniversary!  

In the DR we recently welcomed five new children (3 girls and 2 boys) into our home, and we also began our first year of 10th grade in our on-site school. 

In Bolivia we had 21 sheep arrive at our home this month to begin the new farming project. This project not only allows a new vocational workshop for our students but also a sustainable program to provide food for our home. The construction of our clinic and 4 classrooms is advancing quickly and should be completely finished around the spring of 2013. 

Thank you for all your support to help build our facilities into homes for the children who rely on us.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Pure water for Peru

Below is a news story about a wonderful recent development at NPH Peru reported by Monika Babski, Communications Officer. 

At the end of this summer, everyone at NPH Peru was proud to say we were able to solve one of our biggest concerns. Thanks to the support of donors like you, we were able to provide access to clean and potable water for all at our home. We installed a water filtration system that allows everyone to drink water right from the tap. 

Water is a huge issue in Peru, and the country is called South America´s most water stressed country. On average, surface water in Peru is abundant. Nevertheless, it is unequally distributed. This is especially true in the coastal area where our home and the country´s major cities are located. The land where our home lies is very dry. The capital, Lima, is more than nine times bigger than Peru´s next largest city. It's also the second largest city located in a desert after Cairo. 

Another big problem in Peru is that water treatment is rare, and most of the water is contaminated with parasites putting the population´s health at risk. In Peru drinking water does not meet WHO standards, and unfortunately, there is no national movement to improve the quality of the drinking water. Everybody is used to buying bottled water or boiling it before consuming it. We all did too before this important project was materialized. Our water´s level of hardness was way too high for human consumption. It was also contaminated by bacteria and parasites because the source for our water stems from the Rio Cañete, which is a polluted river. 

After the disinfection, painting of the water tower and the cistern, the equipment was finally installed. It includes a chlorine filter, an active carbon water filter, a sand trap and water softener equipment. Once the water goes through the whole filtration process it becomes free of bacteria and any other contaminants. At the same time, the water hardness goes down to 250, which is the required value for potable water. This project has been a fundamental improvement in the quality of life for our children, staff and volunteers. Now our whole family can drink water from the tap without being worried.

Thank you to all our Friends!

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

The word "bittersweet" has never had more meaning...

Below is a blog post from great Friend, Tom Bongi. He shares about his trip to NPH Guatemala this past summer and the children he met there. Thank you Tom!

Our last full day in at the NPH home in Guatemala. We all know the end is near and now the word "bittersweet" has never had more meaning. We are dreading having to say goodbye to all our friends, new and old. But we also miss our families and our homes.

The teens were quizzing one another about the first thing they are going to do when they get home. Some said they are going to take a two hour hot shower. Dinner at In-And-Out was a popular one.

We got to sleep in a bit because of our late arrival back at the home last night. Breakfast was quesedillas, frijoles refrito, cereal, milk and juice.

We had work assignments after breakfast. I took a group out to the fields to get our work assignment from Eric, a pequenos in his second year of service. The pequenos give a year of service back to the home after the 10th grade and another year back before they head off to the university.

Eric gave us the assignment of harvesting carrots from the fields. I would like to say we worked really hard but have you ever picked a carrot? You give it a gentle tug and it slips out of the ground. Some of the carrots were massive, others deformed. So we had a contest to find the biggest and the ugliest. The winner of the ugliest contest looked line a lobster.

After carrying the carrots in sacks from the field, we had to wash them, count them and bring them in clean sacks to the cold storage next to the kitchen.

The carrots that were too deformed to peel were set aside for the rabbits. We asked if we could feed the rabbits and Eric agreed to bring us down to the rabbit hutch. This led to a tour of the goat pen and the pig pen. Very interesting but also very offensive to the nose.

After the field work and animal pen tour, we got back together with the other groups and had a wrap session with Deacon Jim Hoyt. Jim asked a few of the pequenos to talk to us about their background and how they ended up at NPH.

Eduardo spoke to us first. He is paralyzed from the waist down and confined to a wheelchair. He graduated from high school a year ago and now in his second year of service before he starts at the university in Guatemala City where he will study business administration.

Eduardo, his brother and his sister were abandoned by their father when Eduardo was three. He and his siblings were raised by their grandparents. While living with his grandparents, Eduardo was somehow shot in the neck and instantly paralyzed. It wasn't clear how he got shot but he kept referring to the incident as "the accident."

A social worker for NPH found Eduardo in the hospital and eventually he and his siblings came to the home. Eduardo indicated that he and his siblings have had the opportunity to develop socially, emotionally and academically at NPH. He said that if he continued to live with his grandparents, they would not have had the opportunities they have now. Eduardo said that, in a strange way, the accident that caused him to be paralyzed actually created the opportunities for him and his siblings.

Cesare is 16 years old and lives at the NPH home in El Salvador. He "believes" he came to NPH when he was four years old but he really isn't sure. What he does is that he arrived at the home because both his parents died.

Cesare's first memory of NPH was when he arrived on the first day as a very shy boy. He recalls kids coming right up to him and asking him to play. He is currently in the 9th grade and has one more year of studies before he has his year of service. He wants to attend the university and study hospitality and hotel management.

Alexander is another pequeno from NPH El Salvador. He came to NPH when he was eight but has been in some type of institution since he was one after he was abandoned by his mother.

Sadly, Alexander was at another orphanage in 2001 when he went with a group of kids for a day at the beach. There was a massive earthquake and when they got back to the orphanage, they found it destroyed. 

He then was placed in the NPH home and although he missed his friends, is happy he has had the opportunities afforded by NPH. He plans on attending the university after his second year of service.

I missed lunch because I had to head into Pastores to pick up my newly made cowboy boots. By the way, they are awesome.

In the afternoon, we had free time with the pequenos. I spent the time hanging out with Paulo. Paulo was a little down because knew our time together was coming to an end. He asked me a question but I couldn't understand. I asked him to say it again slowly. Still, no comprende. Finally I had an idea. I pulled out my Ipad, obtained a wireless signal and went to Google Translate. I had Paulo type his question.

"Are you leaving tomorrow morning?"
"How long is your trip back to California?"
About seven hours. Hey, this Google Translate thing is pretty cool.
"Someone stole the flashlight you gave me the other day."
I have another one I can give you.
"When are you coming back here again?"

Wham. I guess I should have expected a question like this but I was totally unprepared to answer it. It would be easy to lie and say I'd see him really soon or that I'd be here next August for sure but I can't say that for sure.

These kids have experienced so much pain and disappointment in their lives that the last thing I wanted to do was make a promise I couldn't keep. So after some thought, I decided to be completely honest with Paulo.

"I will try to see you next year."
What I didn't list for him is all the "ifs" that come with that statement: - if our group even has a trip to NPH Guatemala next year - if my work schedule permits it - if I have enough vacation time - if I can stand to be away from my family for nine days again.

Paulo seemed satisfied but I have a feeling that the only thing he took away from my answer was "next year." Paulo started typing again on my Ipad. I braced myself for the next probing question; the next inquiry that would put me on the spot and make me squirm.

"Can I have some candy?" I laughed out loud. Partly out of relief. And partly because Paulo's mind had already moved on to the here-and-now rather that discussing the future. Yes Paulo, you can have some candy.

The home threw us a going away party that evening. Our group arrived at the dining hall to find it packed with every pequeno and the best seats in the house reserved for us. There was dancing and singing. One group did a folk dance in traditional Guatemalan costumes. A boy sang a pop song and a group of the teen boys did a dance that was obviously meant to impress the girls in our group.

Rather than eat dinner in the dining hall, we ate our meal (black beans and tortillas) around a bonfire. The staff passed out bags of popcorn (a HUGE treat for the pequenos). I gave mine to Paulo. He ate his and saved mine for later.

Before we knew it, the party was over. The pequenos had to get to bed (remember they get up at about 4:00 AM) and we had to pack. I walked Paulo back to his dorm. I went in and hung around as Paulo and his dorm-mates made their beds. The tia led the boys in a prayer and everyone headed for bed. I gave Paulo a hug and told him I'd see him in the morning.

Back in our dorm, people were packing up. It was obvious that we brought a lot of "stuff." One of the teens asked if he could leave his shoes for the kids. I told him to put them over in the corner. Another teen wanted to leave some shirts. They went over in the corner too. In no time at all, we had a pile of donated "stuff" that was three feet high.

When we turned out the lights, there was not the usual chatter in the dark. Everyone was tired and we all knew we had to get up early. The party was almost over.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Always a child showing the way, always a child brightening your day.

by Gena Heraty

Always a child showing the way
always a child brightening your day.
Always a smile shining on you
always a child there loving you.
The years come and go
grey hairs replace brown,
so many problems around
easy to feel down.
But you stop for a while
and you look all around
and you see all that love
waiting to be found.
Its there in the kids
whole fountains of hope
these innocent children
how do they cope?
No mothers and fathers
to hold them at night,
no cuddles and kisses
no arms holding them tight.
Bright shining eyes
look straight to your soul,
dare you open your heart
dare you become whole?
For these kids are your teachers
they have so much to say
they’ll mold and they’ll shape you
til you find a new way.
They may not say a word
but their message is clear
just open your heart
you have nothing to fear.
These kids will see through you
through the masks that you wear
they will reach right to your center
Listen to them if you dare.
Here in these mountains
where the air is so clear
hundreds of children
so cute and so dear.
Hundreds of children
reaching out to you in love
wrapping their arms about you,
like angels from above.
They don’t care about your profession,
or if you drive a fancy car,
they don’t care where you come from
be it from near or afar.
They just want to sit and touch you,
run their fingers through your hair.
Tell you that your are beautiful
or maybe you are hairy as a bear.
“Your nose is oh so pretty
but really it is so long
and your belly is very big
and sure let us entertain you with a song.
Will you please take our photo
sand show us how we look?
Next time you visit
will you bring me a present – even a book?
Will you tell me about your life
and the world where you live?
will you ask about mine
will you receive what I give?
Will you be a part of my life
even though you are not here?
will you spare me a thought
when I am far and you’re not near?
Will you help me grow up
help me survive in my life?
help me see many tomorrows
despite the troubles and strife?
You see I am your family
I just need a chance
I will make you so proud
so happy you will dance.
I will reach for the stars
and say hi to the moon
I will be a witness to your friendship
morning night and noon.
O what is their future
in this troubled land?
who will walk the way with them?
Who will lend a helping hand?
I look at their laughing faces
watch them as they play
and I thank God for NPFS
for the joy they know today.
And I try not to worry
about what tomorrow has in store
some things are out of our control
But I will always wish for more.
I will always wish for these children
that they have a chance in life
to enjoy this time of childhood
before the world unloads its strife.
I pray people will stand behind us
support us every day
help us help these children.
Educate them and guide the way.
I thank god for all the donors
that support us through the years.
Without them we can do nothing
we’d never move beyond the tears.
And life is surely a mystery
some things just make no sense
and yet helping little children
Is for sure a good defense.
Defense against the injustice
that sure likes to have its way.
Defense against the darkness
that could pervade each day.
So as we think of these wonderful children
entrusted in our care.
Lets pray for strength and guidance
lets offer up our worries in prayer.
Lets keep our hearts so open
and our minds full of hope.
Though the budgets are causing us stress
lets believe we will cope.
Lets keep our faith firmly planted
in the arms of God above
Lets continue in our mission
as we try to be a people of love.
Lets listen to the children
as they smile through every day.
In their smiles are valuable lessons
a smile lights up the darkest way.