Friday, May 24, 2013

What a darling, brave, sparkling girl!

Below is a testimonial from amazing Friends, Cathy and Tom McQuillan from Arlington Heights, IL. 

Our involvement began at church, a few years ago, with a sponsorship talk. We thought it'd be a good idea for us to help a needy child. So, we signed up and paid our money. Our Goddaughter was in El Salvador, and we would receive a letter from her 1-2 times a year. However, I must say that we didn't really know much about how to be involved Godparents. We wrote maybe once a year. That all changed last year. 

Friends of the Orphans offered a trip to Central America, and we decided to go. We also were informed of the serious health issues of our Goddaughter and her medical needs. Our trip, with about 20 other people, took us to Guatemala first where we toured the NPH home there and the surrounding countryside. It is a gorgeous country but full of a troubles. We were blown away by the love and care that these children receive at NPH! Fr. Wasson's vision and wisdom were truly inspired by the Holy Spirit! We then moved on to El Salvador... again a beautiful country but torn apart by violence and poverty. NPH was a peaceful oasis there, providing for the spiritual, educational, physical, and emotional needs of its children. 

Oh, my - then... meeting our Goddaughter Wendy! What a gift! What a darling, brave, sparkling girl! We only wished we spoke Spanish! Others helped us communicate. It was wonderful! But, Wendy is suffering from a horrible spine curvature condition that will probably cut short her life. Through all of this, she remains full of hope, dreams, and smiles! 

While there, we experienced a kindergarten and a junior high graduation, Mass with the whole congregation singing enthusiastically, and a beautiful Quinceañera (party to celebrate 15 yr. old girls). Of course, while we were there, my husband Tom fell in love with two other girls! So, now we are the proud Godparents of 3!!! 

Because of these experiences, and because we now know more about NPH, we write more often, send photos, read their report cards carefully, write a few phrases in Spanish, and keep all of these precious children and staff in our daily prayers. Being a Godparent with Friends of the Orphans can be a life changing experience -- for the children and for YOU! We highly recommend it!

Thursday, May 23, 2013

They know there is somebody that loves them although the distance is great...

Below is a sponsorship story about long-time volunteer and godparent at NPH Nicaragua, Tecla Ris.

When asked if 16-year-old Silvia, 15-year-old Eduardo, or 9-year-old Kesler are her children, Tecla Ris is quick to respond yes. Like a parent, she does her best to encourage her three godchildren at NPH Nicaragua to stay in school and to show them how much she cares for them. 

“I hope that they know there is somebody that loves them although the distance is great,” she says. Tecla does her best to void this distance by writing to her Godchildren often and sending small gifts like stickers and bracelets. The children even write back to her, though she knows that sometimes the children find it hard to write letters. 

Tecla also tries to visit NPH Nicaragua once or twice a year, which she considers to be her second home. She says that her ability to go and simply “hang out” with her Godchildren has been the best way to connect with them. 

According to Tecla, sponsorship has enriched her life by letting others into it. It also helped remind her that not everyone has had the same opportunities and that one needs to reach out and help others. 

Tecla’s commitment to NPH extends far beyond her sponsorships. Tecla’s first involvement with NPH entailed translating letters between godparents and their children. In 1997, Tecla lived at NPH Nicaragua working on special projects and sponsorships. In 2009, Tecla served as a Tia, or caregiver, at the home. 

The children of NPH and her godchildren have truly become family to Tecla.

Monday, May 20, 2013

There’s no question that NPH sponsors are making a real difference.

Below is a testimonial from Karen, who recently traveled to NPH Guatemala where her sister's and parents' godchildren live!

After my sister adopted the first of two children from Guatemala, my parents and my other sister became NPH sponsors to two boys. That was eight years ago, and ever since then, I have wanted to travel to Guatemala to learn about my niece and nephew’s birth culture, and to meet my family’s NPH godchildren.

Organizations can look great on paper, but until you actually visit them you can’t be sure. I have to admit that NPH sounded a little too good to be true. But from what I saw, it is everything it says it is and more. 

The friendly staff greeted me warmly. They all seem genuinely happy to work there. (Don’t worry if you don’t speak Spanish, most of the staff speak English and the kids, who study English in school but aren’t usually very fluent yet, are used to non-Spanish speaking visitors.) 

The clean and spacious visitor house I stayed in had several rooms with comfortable beds, hot water, wifi, and a common area. The kitchen was stocked with basics, including bread made by the students. (To ensure privacy for visitors and volunteers, the kids are not allowed in the visitor houses.) 

Vilma, the Sponsor Coordinator, took me to the carpenty workshop where I met 15-year-old Mynor, my sister’s godchild. He took me on a tour of the NPH facility. It’s like a small village, with two large school buildings, a health clinic, an administration building, dormitories, a dining hall and kitchen, workshops, visitor houses, gardens, and animals. 

The kids seemed happy. I saw a lot of laughter and camaraderie. They form close bonds with staff and with the other kids in their section. Many of them have siblings at the home as well. Their days are full and busy, with school, workshops, homework, meals, and chores. 

My parents’ godchild, 10-year-old Pedro, was away at a soccer match, so I met him the next morning. I spent the day with him, attending his classes and helping him with homework. That evening I took him out for dinner in the town center, a short walk from NPH. 

As I spent time with Mynor and Pedro, I couldn’t help imagining what their lives would be like if they didn’t live there. Drugs, gangs, and constant hunger are just some of the likely scenarios. At NPH they live in a safe, structured, loving environment where they get an education, good food, health care, and help to build a happy future. There’s no question that NPH sponsors are making a real difference.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Sponsorship is not a one-way street...

Haley Wigglesworth's Sponsorship Story: Sponsorship at any Age! 

Four years ago, Haley Wigglesworth went to NPH Honduras as part of a group of 16 eighth graders. The group spent their mornings working in the garden, kitchen, and tortilla house, and their afternoons playing with the children. She says her experience was “life-changing” and upon her return from Honduras, she began to sponsor Omar. 

Now a senior in high school, Haley has visited NPH Honduras twice more and has enjoyed spending time with Omar. She says her favorite memory of Omar happened when she arrived at NPH Honduras for the second time. Omar was among a group of boys cutting the grass, and he lit up with excitement as soon as he saw her. 

In between visits, Haley and Omar have kept in touch by writing letters. Haley says that she tries to write him once a month, and occasionally sends candy. 

 “Sponsorship is not just something you’re doing to make yourself feel better,” says Haley, “it really makes a difference to the kids.” It provides the children with a support system they need, particularly after the difficult lives so many of these children have led prior to coming to NPH. 

Omar, now 15 years old, came to NPH Honduras in March 2008 with his three younger siblings after their mother died of a terminal illness. The children had lived with their aunt for a period of time, but the aunt was a single mother and could not afford to raise all of the children in addition to her own. 

Haley added that sponsorship is “not a one-way street” and that she has benefited just as much as Omar. She says her relationship with Omar has served as grounding experience for her by broadening her worldview. Furthermore, it has pushed her to take learning Spanish more seriously. 

In addition to her sponsorship and visits to NPH Honduras, Haley keeps involved with NPH by serving on the junior board of the Mid-Atlantic region.

Learn more about child sponsorship today!

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

A letter from Fatima always brings a big smile to our faces...

What Sponsorship Means to Sue Bumagin & Paul Korn's Family

“It’s very gratifying to make a difference in the life of a child,” Sue Bumagin says of her and her husband, Paul Korn’s, sponsorship of 13-year-old Fatima at our NPH home in Honduras. Though they have not yet met Fatima, they feel that sponsorship has enriched all their lives.

Fatima writes to Sue and Paul every few months. Her letters are “very loving and so sweet,” according to Sue, and always come beautifully decorated. “A letter from Fatima always brings a big smile to our faces,” Sue says. Pictures she has sent now sit framed in their home and in Paul’s office.

Sue and Paul always write back soon after receiving a letter. After a kind friend translates their letters, Sue and Paul send the letters. Sometimes they also send small gifts that their godchild can share with other children and her little sister, Natalia, such as books in Spanish and art supplies. They also like to send her things that “a young, adolescent girl might like,” such as hair clips or bracelets.

Sue and Paul first heard about NPH and sponsorship through their friends, Barbara Kelley and Brian Orr, both Board Members of Friends of the Orphans Mid-Atlantic/Northeast Region. Sue says that she and Paul have been deeply influenced by Barbara and Brian’s enthusiasm, devotion, and love of the organization, as well as the children. Become that “special someone” in a child’s life. Sign up to sponsor today!

Friday, May 10, 2013

On a day to day basis thoughts of her just bring me joy...

Below is Allison Ahern's sponsorship story of visiting her Godchild for the first time on Christmas day in 2011. 

Allison Ahern’s parents gave her a gift that truly keeps on giving: the funding to sponsor a child at one of NPH’s home. “On a day to day basis thoughts of her just bring me joy,” Allison says of her godchild, Martha. 

When Allison began to look into sponsorship, she knew that she wanted a girl from Honduras, as she felt she had the biggest connection to that home. Someone suggested that she choose a younger child so that she could watch the child grow up. She chose to sponsor Martha, now 8-years-old. Before coming into NPH’s care in 2011, Martha and her five siblings had been enduring extreme poverty. Now, Martha greatly benefits from the care she receives from NPH as well as the support, attention, and compassion that Allison provides as an adult figure. 

Allison says that the relationship has brought her a whole new level of awareness as to how children live in other parts of the world. Allison says that she is always excited for Martha’s next letter in the mail. Having a personal relationship with a child, she says, has given her a whole new motivation to fund-raise for NPH. 

Allison was able to deepen that personal relationship with a visit to Honduras last December on a trip held by Friends of the Orphans. Having Martha show her where she lives and goes to school has connected them on a whole new level. Through visiting Martha, Allison now knows more about the little things that are not always conveyed in letters; such as Martha’s love of marbles and M&M’s. 

Allison is committed to continuing her sponsorship and going back to visit Martha in Honduras. “I told her I would come back, so I have to go back!” she says. Allison looks forward to watching Martha grow at NPH Honduras. Allison hopes she will get to be there for the big moments in Martha’s life like her quinceañera when she turns 15. 

Overall, Allison says that sponsoring children through Friends of the Orphans is “the best money you’ll ever spend.” She says the homes’ ability to provide stability, opportunity, and education sets the children’s lives up for success which is “the best gift anyone can give a child.”

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Nothing beats getting a chance to spend time with my Godson...

Below is a story written by Katie Burdette, sponsor from the SE region, who works with Charity Services Centers in Miami, Florida and recently visited the NPH home in the Dominican Republic!

I had the greatest pleasure to go to the Dominican Republic to visit one of the NPH homes that Friends of the Orphans supports. To get the chance to not only meet the children and staff at the home, but to also see the villages and surrounding areas that these kids are in showed the true impact of this program. 

From the first moment that I stepped off the plane and met our guide at the Airport, the Staff of NPH Dominican Republic treated me with the love and attention of a dear friend. As we left the city to go to the home, a couple of children approached the van asking for money and food, many younger than my 13 year old NPH Godchild. I could not help but imagine if Wilfrido had to do the same before NPH saved him. Although the Dominican Republic was beautiful, I could still see the struggle and poverty. Inside the home, however, the children were so happy as they ran around the courtyard free to play without worry. 

Nothing prepared me for how well NPH created their amazing setup; they had houses that looked just like homes one would find in Miami. They also had a complete medical building, school, working farm, pond full of fish, playground, and even a baseball field! Everything that NPH has done at the home has made a community that anyone would want to be a part of. The kids were vibrant and so welcoming. Everyone was excited to see us and was quick to ask us questions about where we come from and if we knew their godparents. I had a chance to spend some time with the younger children at the home, and as soon as I entered the house, they jumped up, hugged me, and grabbed me by the hand to take me outside to play! All of them loved to play catch and were quick to bring out books for us to read to them. 

As wonderful as it was to spend time with these adorable children, nothing beats getting a chance to spend time with my Godson. Hearing some of the songs he wrote was wonderful! He really has talent! We spoke about his dreams and how he wants to become an architect. He even pointed out structures and explained to me how they were built. He has grown so much since I first started to sponsor him. Knowing that this program is making his dreams come true gives me hope that one day he too can help more children and maybe even build another home for the program. Meeting Wilfrido and the rest of his siblings really was a trip of a lifetime! I will never forget those moments with the children: reading to them, having them teach me new words in Spanish, and sitting down to eat with them in their homes that they were so proud of. I truly feel blessed that Friends of the Orphans is making such an amazing impact in transforming these children’s lives and that I had the opportunity to not only help support these special children overseas, but that they also made it possible for me to see it!

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

May is Godparent's Month!

Dear Friends

You can’t possibly put your arms around every child at our Nuestros Pequeños Hermanos (NPH, Spanish for “Our Little Brothers and Sisters”) homes across Latin America and the Caribbean. Not all 3,300 of them. 

But I think you can envision wrapping your arms around five pequeños I know… 

Eduardo and Martin are teenagers at our home in Cuernavaca, Mexico, who came to us when each of their parents could no longer care for them. Both boys are looking forward to brighter futures with the help of NPH, and one of Eduardo’s passions is to go to the New York School of Fashion Design. 

Ana lives in Guatemala in the babies’ house with her little brothers and sister. At 12, she’s a bit old for the babies’ house, but the siblings are so happy to live together. Chamba, a young boy at our El Salvador home who came to us from a government institution, has grown into a thoughtful and responsible young man with dreams of becoming a doctor. 

Lastly, Karina is a 5-year-old girl at NPH Honduras. She fell asleep in my lap the day I met her. I bet you can’t even look at her beautiful, sweet photo without immediately knowing why I felt drawn to her joyous presence … and why I wanted to keep that light in her eyes by helping to give her a more solid and promising future. 

You see, I not only know these children in my role as CEO of Friends of the Orphans, but because I sponsor all of them. That makes me their padrino – their Godparent – someone they can rely on. 

May is Godparent’s Month at Friends of the Orphans. All month long we’re celebrating the Godparents who make room in their hearts to brighten the futures of our pequeños. We are also thanking generous donors like you and inviting them to help us reach our goal to connect 100 new sponsors with boys and girls who come to us every day. 

Your generosity has been a true blessing for these children, and for as little as $30 a month (about a dollar a day), you can bring new hope and emotional support to a special boy or girl. As an added bonus, if you sign up in May, you will be entered to win a trip to an NPH home! 

There has never been a better time to get involved. After facing a major funding shortfall at the end of 2012 due to the worldwide financial crisis, we’ve been blessed with a challenge grant. 

The Flatley Foundation of Braintree, Massachusetts, has made a multi-million dollar grant that will allow NPH to end cuts to vocational and educational programs, and bring staffing levels and living standards back up. The Foundation set the challenge hoping people like you will rise to the occasion and give more than ever before to help meet the needs of our children. 

To meet the challenge, we must raise an additional $1 million a year for the next five years. Your sponsorship or donation will qualify and help us take advantage of this incredible opportunity.

Dollar for dollar, your sponsorship or gift will be matched to DOUBLE your contribution! It’s an incredible opportunity. And you can help NPH take full advantage of it. 

You can be part of the rebuilding story, helping a child receive the necessities of life – clothes, nutrition, medical care, and an education – not to mention a whole lot of love. 

And you can’t underestimate how important that love is. I’ve watched our pequeños proudly sort through collections of cards and messages they’ve carefully saved from their Godparents over the years. You should see their faces light up when a new letter comes in the mail, or how they pour themselves into writing responses and drawing pictures to send back. The children tell me they love their Godparents and pray for them. They are so grateful for the steady presence in their lives. 

I have never had children of my own, but now I have five. And every time I go to a home, I meet another child who invites me to change my life by changing theirs, and I know I will sponsor even more. Won’t you join me and make a real difference in a child’s life with your sponsorship gift starting at $30 a month? 

I hope you will, because there is a child waiting to give you a gift … the gift of being a positive force in his or her life. And there’s no greater gift than that. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for your thoughtful consideration. 


Frank Donaghue 
Chief Executive Officer 
Friends of the Orphans 

*Children’s names have been changed to protect their privacy.