Dec 05

Utah family skips Christmas, gives to Guatemala village

By Natalie Croftsutah fam

ST. GEORGE — “Christmas won’t be coming this year to the Edwards’ home.

Instead of receiving presents Christmas morning, the Edwards have opted to play the role of Santa themselves and deliver supplies and toys to a village in Guatemala. The family of six will be traveling to Guatemala to buy presents and bring them to a small village in-person Wednesday.

“They’re excited,” said father Sam Edwards of his children. “We’re literally putting pictures of the trip in their stockings and that’s all they’re getting. This Christmas we’re not getting, we’re just giving.”

Misha and Sam Edwards said they were inspired to use the money they would typically spend on presents for their four children, ranging in age from 5 to 13, for charity during a vacation in Guatemala in February. During their trip they said they were impressed by the kindness and humility of the people living in a village where they paid to have lunch in a family’s home.

When they saw a little girl struggling to push a broken tricycle with wooden wheels, they decided they wanted to give their children the opportunity to give their Christmas to someone else.

“She was entertaining herself and having fun, but in that moment my husband was like ‘We are going to bring our kids back here. Santa is not coming next year. Our kids are going to give everything away to these little kids,’ ” Misha Edwards said…”
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Dec 03

Orphan Sunday, by Pastor Rex Bonar

Orphan Sunday from Olathe Bible Church on Vimeo.

Dec 03

Ahead of ‘Orphan Sunday,’ Another Country Halts International Adoptions

By Kate Tracy

“An estimated 130 organizations and 2,000 events worldwide will mark the fifth Orphan Sunday this weekend. But the event takes on new challenges this year, as public criticism and country adoption closures have increased.
Since September, children from the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) are not allowed to leave the country with their adopted parents for up to 12 months. The Congolese government suspended exit permits and new adoption applications because, according to the U.S. State Department’s Intercountry Adoption report:
“This suspension is due to concerns over reports that children adopted from the Democratic Republic of the Congo may be either abused by adoptive families or adopted by a second set of parents once in their receiving countries.”
Supporting this fear: Reuters recently investigated the sizable underground market in America for “re-homing,” where a couple will adopt a foreign child, only to later give it up for adoption again. More than 24,000 internationally adopted children are no longer with their original adoptive parents, claims Reuters.
However, although the DRC blames adoptive families for failed adoptions, the United States Institute of Peace notes some shortcomings of the DRC itself that also affect overseas adoptions:
“The DRC ranks at the bottom of every corruption index; pervasive corruption undermines peace, increases business costs and strengthens the predatory state….”

For full story click here:

Dec 02

Results of New Four-Year Study on Faith-inspired Organizations and Development to be Unveiled at the United Nations

“New York, February 18, 2011 – A new study by Georgetown University’s Berkley Center for Religion, Peace and World Affairs points to significant conclusions about the role faith-inspired movements and organizations play in development and security. The conclusions, which are the result of workshops in six countries, will be unveiled in greater detail at United Nations’ Headquarters on February 23rd at an event sponsored by the UN Alliance of Civilizations (UNAOC) and UN Population Fund (UNFPA).

Preliminary findings include

Faith-inspired organizations show tremendous potential, for contributing to human development goals, that can be harnessed through better coordination with government/NGO efforts
The work of faith inspired organizations in this area is diverse and covers virtually all sectors of development but is poorly understood in mainstream development institutions, including the UN
Varying views on codes of conduct around proselytizing, approaches to orphan care, and setting values in school curricula can potentially exacerbate tensions in several regions
“It is important to build knowledge about, and understand, the role of religion in society. The Berkley Center plays an important leadership role in this field.” said Marc Scheuer, Director of the UNAOC.

Religious communities have long been engaged in the struggle against poverty and disease and in the promotion of education and human security. In fact, faith-inspired organizations often have leading roles in development efforts across the globe…”

For full story click here:

Nov 29

Security experts use crime-fighting skills to help orphans, trafficking victims

By Stella Dawson

WASHINGTON (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – “When gunmen broke into an orphanage outside Nairobi in 2009, beat the house mistress nearly to death and gang raped a 10-year-old and a 14-year-old girl, the violence hit home 8,700 miles away.

Rolando Lopez, a former Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) agent, was celebrating the Thanksgiving holiday in the U.S. city of Dallas when he received an email from a nurse he knew describing the attack and asking for help.

“It just broke my heart,” Lopez told Thomson Reuters Foundation.

The email prompted him to set up Orphan Secure, a global volunteer organisation of 110 people on three continents with experience in policing, intelligence and special operations security experience.

In Guatemala, Lopez said his group tracked down an extortionist threatening to kidnap an orphanage director or the children unless he paid thousands of dollars into a named bank account, and found it was a racket run out of a prison hundreds of miles away – one of about four extortion cases it has handled each year.

In Mexico, Orphan Secure is raising funds to buy security cameras, motion detectors and powerful lighting around an NPH International orphanage and has provided free security training to its five children’s homes housing 800 children.

“We are focusing on the children’s education and health and we haven’t known how to focus on the security,” said Rafael Bermudez, Mexican national director for NPH, adding that orphanages were a soft target in increasingly violent Mexico because their gates are open to the public and visitors….”

For full story click here:

Nov 28

Voluntouring: A More Conscious Way to Travel

By Stephan Spencer

“Vacation means palm trees, tropical weather, and filling recycle bottles with compostable trash to build a children’s school? That doesn’t sound like the classic vaca by the beach we’re used to, but for an increasing amount of people, volunteering has become a way to see the world while gaining perspective. Often referred to as “voluntourism”, the word refers to the tourist who combines their vacation and sightseeing with volunteer work for a nonprofit or local cause. Voluntourism is for those who want to revamp the common vacation format to include giving back, and gaining perspective on their own circumstances.

The Voluntourist, a travel trade newsletter, published a study stating the four most popular motivators for those who wish to volunteer on vacation. They listed cultural immersion, giving back and making a difference, seeking camaraderie, and seeking educational opportunities for children, when it involved a family volunteer trip with their children. Surely all of these opportunities are not available are at a beachside resort vacation. People go voluntouring because they are looking for something more than that, whether it be new friendships, new realizations about their life, or just the feeling of being part of something greater…”

For the full story click here:

Nov 28

Duke Medical Team Heads to Guatemala

By Kali Shulklapper

A multidisciplinary team from Duke is providing pediatric surgical care and research in Guatemala, where access to medical services is limited.

Led by Henry Rice, a professor of pediatric surgery at the Duke Global Health Institute, a team of Duke Medicine and DGHI faculty members partnered with the Moore Pediatric Surgical Center in Guatemala City to provide pediatric surgical care and education over the last three years. The team includes surgeons, anesthesiologists, technicians and student trainees.

Rice began building relationships with a small group of pediatric surgeons in Guatemala while visiting frequently to build houses with his family. The project, which started as a smaller base effort, has now grown into a multi-faceted platform that involves education and research initiatives.

Rice said the environment in Guatemala forces the staff to perform their jobs with fewer resources and less money. The platform is about providing state-of-the-art care in an environment that does not have the resources the staff is used to working with. This fosters a learning experience that cannot be duplicated elsewhere and also provides cost-effective models of care to emulate upon leaving Guatemala, he added. What do you think?

“The care we want to provide is as high-quality as at Duke or anywhere else,”

For full story click here:

Nov 28

Rising Crime Wave Hits La Antigua Guatemala


“ANTIGUA, Guatemala — With its cobblestone streets and colonial-era churches and plazas, picturesque Antigua Evangelism 2-2004 (1)has long been Guatemala’s top tourist destination as an oasis away from the crime and chaos consuming the rest of the Central American country.

In recent months, however, the UNESCO World Heritage Site has seen the troubles of the outside world threaten its backpacker charm. Vehicle and home burglaries are up, and once-reliable public services such as water and trash collection have been left unattended across whole blocks.

Many blame political turmoil for the troubles in this city of about 53,000 people. Antigua hasn’t had an elected mayor since September 2012 when Adolfo Vivar and several relatives and members of his administration were charged with establishing a criminal network that stole nearly $3 million from the city’s treasury…”

For full story click here

Nov 27

World Orphan Fund Video Update

To learn more about the World Orphan Fund and the incredible work they do for orphans, click here.

Nov 27

Preschool Graduation in Sapito, Guatemala (From Miracles in Action Blog)

By Penny Rambacher  LBR_graduates2013-with-Penny-300x225

“On October 19, sixteen preschool children graduated from Sapito (Little Frog is the village’s name) receiving diplomas from their Let’s Be Ready teacher, Blanca.
Blanca attended Tierra Colorado (our 7th school) and is a graduate of a Miracles in Action scholarship. The parents really love having Let’s Be Ready (a Miracles in Action funded project) and Blanca to teach their children so they will be ready for 1st grade next year. Backpacks were given to each child as a gift from Blanca for their completion of the year. It was wonderful to find that Blanca had more self confidence since the last time we saw her when she was first offered this job. Nora, Director of LBR, supported Blanca with training and visits to be sure she was also ready…”

For full story click here:

To find out more about Miracles in Action, click here:

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