Americas

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Celebrate!

Video by Kate Andrews

We want to wish you a happy, fulfilling and meaningful new year. Here’s a video of children and youth joyfully dancing in a rural community center in Brazil, which your generosity helps support. Thank you!

Our Top 5 Posts from 2016

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In Zambia, two girls help prepare a meal. Photo by Jake Lyell.

By Kate Andrews, ChildFund Staff Writer

I think most of us can agree that 2016 has been an eventful year, both here in the United States and around the world. If you are a sponsor, you can take heart in the fact that your presence and support has helped a child and his or her family. If you’ve contributed to one of ChildFund’s other campaigns, like the one in Uganda that helps reunite families torn apart by AIDS, you’ve made an important impact, too. Your generosity matters in large and small ways.

Here are this year’s most popular blog posts (judged by the number of views as of mid-December). They cover many interests and multiple continents. Thank you for your support of children and families in need.

5. On the Migrants’ Trail

Julien Anseau, our global communications manager, wrote three pieces about refugees and migrants he met while on an assessment trip through Europe in January 2016. With the chaos and death toll in Aleppo making headlines now, Julien’s story is just as relevant today as it was in February.

4. Sarah’s Doll

Jake Lyell, who shoots videos and takes photos for ChildFund all over the world, met 11-year-old Sarah while interviewing families in Uganda who are part of the USAID-funded project DOVCU, which is keeping families together and reuniting other families struggling to support their children. In Jake’s video, Sarah, whose father is disabled and was considering giving his children to an orphanage, shows us how she makes her own doll. It’s a lighthearted moment, but it also shows children’s resilience in the midst of serious circumstances.

3. The Drought in Ethiopia

Jake also spent time in Ethiopia earlier this year to document the food shortage in the region of Oromia. This post shares the words of Halko, a mother whose four children were suffering from malnutrition — particularly her 3-month-old baby son, Fentale. At the end of 2016, the situation in Ethiopia is improving, but families still need help.

2. A Child’s View of Peace 

In a report by the Asia Pacific Regional Network for Early Childhood about children’s opinions on creating peace, we learned a lot. If nothing else, we hope your connection to ChildFund produces admiration and interest for the thoughts and voices of children. In some cases, they’re wiser than their elders. ChildFund writer Rachel Ringgold found some especially interesting quotes from children in Timor-Leste. Take a look!

1. ChildFund’s Community Video Contest

This is one of my favorite new traditions: Local partner organizations and children around the world submit videos each year for our Community Video Contest. Everyone wins — the amateur videographers, the children in the videos and all the viewers. In this post, Meg Carter, sponsorship communications specialist, explains how she and her team of judges chose the winner of 2015’s contest. You can see the videos from 2016 and 2015 on YouTube.

Finally, here’s a slideshow of my favorite photos this year. Thank you to Jake Lyell and all of the ChildFund staff members and local partner staffers who took these pictures!

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This will be the last blog post for 2016 and likely my final one, as well, since I’ll be leaving ChildFund in early January. Thanks for reading, and have a super 2017. Kate

Season’s Greetings from Honduras!

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Our Honduras staff asked 13-year-old Elizandro what he likes the most about Christmas. “The joy and the fun I have with my family,” he says, “and of course the tamales on Christmas Eve!”

Best wishes from ChildFund during the holiday season, and come back Dec. 28 to see our five most popular blog posts for 2016. Some of them may surprise you!

 

Their Favorite Things

Video from ChildFund Mexico

This time of year, many of us take stock of our lives and think about our blessings, our goals and our challenges. This fall, our Mexico staff asked children what they love about their lives. These kids face obstacles to a full education and promising careers, but they still have things they’re thankful for. Please enjoy this video, and may it bring pleasant thoughts of your own blessings.

Learning a Better Way to Fight

Photo by Jéssica Takato, ChildFund Brazil

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Thirteen-year-old Camilly of Belo Horizonte, Brazil.

When I visited ChildFund’s programs in Brazil earlier this year, girls and boys at a community center in Belo Horizonte were kicking and punching — while led by a teacher. They were learning basic moves in a martial arts class, and the teacher told me something interesting: Learning this ancient pugilistic art actually keeps kids from fighting.

And interest is growing. As more children learn Muay Thai and other martial arts, the center has begun offering a class at night for adults.

Camilly, 13, is one of several girls who take Muay Thai at the community center, and she is living proof that martial arts help people of all ages become more secure and confident, and less volatile. She’s practiced Muay Thai, also known as Thai boxing, since she was 10.

“I was very nervous and fought with everybody,” Camilly says, “but now that I do martial arts and play soccer, I’m getting better. In Muay Thai, we learn to have respect for others and not hit people outside of the fight. I changed a lot. I can settle things calmly, and I’m more patient.

“Now when something happens, I drink a glass of water, calm down, and everything is fine.”

Giving Haitians a Hand

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In Jeremie, Haiti, service members from Joint Task Force Matthew and representatives from the United States Agency of International Development (USAID) deliver relief supplies to people affected by Hurricane Matthew. U.S. Marine Corps photo by Capt. Tyler Hopkins.

People in Haiti, many of whom were just recently recovering from the devastating earthquake of 2010, are now confronted with a second natural disaster: Hurricane Matthew. The Category 4 storm struck the island Oct. 4, killing more than 1,000 people and leaving hundreds of thousands homeless. Right now, the USAID and nongovernmental organizations are working to bring aid to more than a million people affected by the hurricane, but some communities have been cut off by floodwaters, mudslides and other debris blocking roads.

Meanwhile, concerns are mounting that there will be a cholera epidemic caused by the quick spread of highly contagious bacteria. As of Oct. 10, 13 people in Haiti had reportedly died from the illness. ChildFund is working with our Alliance partner in Canada to provide funds to the Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA) International, which is on the ground in Haiti, distributing hygiene kits, water purification tablets and food.

You can help children and their family members in Haiti by supporting this cooperative relief effort, and also stay up to date about what is happening on the island as we receive more information.

In the Words of ChildFund Alumni: Sponsors Matter

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Else is pursuing a nursing degree, a goal her sponsors enthusiastically support. 

If you’re thinking of becoming a sponsor, don’t take it from us. Take it from former sponsored children: You matter. We hear from many young adults who are involved in careers, higher education and leadership roles that they never expected to achieve before someone sponsored them as children. Your consistent support and encouragement help them pursue many kinds of dreams and even pass on your generosity to future generations. Here are just a few examples.

Paul, a teacher in Uganda: “My sponsor used to inspire me through the letters he sent. I used to wait so eagerly for his response whenever I wrote to him. He always reminded me to work hard at school.”

Makeshwar, a community leader in India“We will always remain indebted to ChildFund and our sponsors. We have taken a vow, and we will continue to serve underprivileged children and help them live with dignity.”

Lidiane, a business owner in Brazil“Today I am a warrior, a hardworking and brave woman, fighting for my goals and dreams, and you are part of this. I wish I could say more to you, but I can write a thousand words here and still would not demonstrate what you represent in my life story.”

Else, a nursing student in Indonesia: “I want to help cure people. My favorite subject is pediatric nursing. I love taking care of young children. Soon, I will be working in a hospital helping young children in need.”

Yolanda: Overcoming Disability

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Yolanda, 10, was seriously injured in a house fire when she was 2 years old, but today she is succeeding in school.

Photos and reporting from ChildFund Ecuador staff

Yolanda writes a letter to her sponsor.

Yolanda writes a letter to her sponsor.

In many places where we work, it’s not unusual to see people cooking over open flames or on antiquated stoves. That can lead to a lot of harm, especially for young children. Many suffer from respiratory diseases from exposure to smoke, and some are hurt when hot water or food spills. Yolanda, a little girl in Ecuador’s Cotopaxi Province, suffered an unimaginable injury when she was 2. Her family’s wood stove caused a fire that engulfed their home at night, when everyone was asleep. She almost didn’t get out in time, and 80 percent of her body was burned. Yolanda lost her hands as a result.

Her parents were worried that she’d be mocked at school, so they didn’t enroll her, until ChildFund and our local partner staff members convinced her family that Yolanda would be better off in school. That turned out to be a good thing for Yolanda. Learn more about how she’s succeeding in a new story on our website!

In Pursuit of Excellence

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Maria Antônia, at the community center run by our local partner in Crato, Brazil. 

By Kate Andrews, ChildFund Staff Writer

Getting ready to watch the games in Rio? I sure am. To mark this special occasion, I’ve got a few pictures from my side-trip to southern Brazil (see below, in the slideshow), which followed a wonderful visit to ChildFund’s programs in northeastern Brazil. One of my favorite moments was meeting Maria Antônia, whom we featured last year on the blog. She’s the girl who spoke about violence against children at a side-event organized by ChildFund and other international nongovernmental organizations at the United Nations headquarters in New York City in March 2015.

One of my hopes was to meet Maria Antônia in person while visiting her hometown, Crato, to find out what she had done in the year after her trip to New York. With the help of my ChildFund Brazil colleagues and our local partner staff, she and I were able to meet. She’s now about to turn 16, and as you’ll read, she’s doing well in and outside of school. No surprise there. Maria Antônia is a young woman destined for great things.

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Take a Tour of Honduras

From our office in Honduras, we recently received this video travelogue. Your tour guide is Darwin! If you want to see ChildFund’s videos, which span the globe, check out our YouTube channel. You can even subscribe to the channel with your Google account and receive notice every time a video is uploaded (we promise, it won’t overwhelm your email).

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