Saturday, December 24, 2011

A Moment's Kindness Changing Generations, Part Two

To read about Iana, a young girl in Plastic City, Guyana click here.

Stephanie continues sharing how we can make a difference for a young girl in Plastic City.

"Iana’s ear problems and hearing loss have affected her educationally and in building healthy relationships. If her years-long ear infections and their possible cause are not addressed, her hearing loss will progress. This will greatly affect her future.

Recently, Iana’s grandmother approached Angie, who serves for CP in Plastic City about getting help for Iana’s ears. It is important that Iana's family be able to financially participate in her tratment, and over the last 8 months, her grandmother has saved approximately $40 towards medical tests for Iana. This is an extraordinary amount that she has set aside!

Angie arranged for Iana to be able to see an ear specialist (ENT) at a private hospital in Georgetown, Guyana. We learned that a hearing aid will not solve Iana’s situation. Since Iana’s middle ears were so full of infection it was impossible to be 100% clear on the total damage. The doctor is concerned that Iana has holes in her ears-- thankfully they can be fixed in a private hospital right here in Guyana. This surgery will stop the progressive hearing loss. However a cat scan will give us the true picture and help us determine the next steps.

We would like to help Iana and stop the progressive hearing loss that has isolated her for much of her life, and has affected her academically, behaviorally and socially. The cost for the CAT Scan is $200 (US dollars) and the surgery cost is yet to be determined if it is needed.

You CAN make a difference in the life of this sweet girl. Your moment's kindness will change her life forever. If you feel God leading you to partner with us to help with Iana's medical costs, specifically the CAT scan, please click the donation link choose "FUND - Guyana Orphan Project" and then in the Comments section, type, "Guyana Medical - Iana".

Friday, December 23, 2011

A Moment's Kindness Changing Generations, Part One

Written by Stephanie, team leader to the 2011 short term team to Guyana.

Iana is a 9 year old girl who currently lives in Plastic City, Guyana with her “grandmother”. Iana's mom was AmeriIndian and her dad is of African decent. When Iana was 3 weeks old, her mother died of TB. Iana’s father has very little interaction with Iana, though Iana craves him to accept her. Many family members related to her biological father live in Plastic City. Her mother’s family live in the interior of Guyana. For various reasons, close family members could not or would not take Iana in. Iana’s great aunt and uncle stepped forward to take this 3 week baby into their home. (Iana’s father was their nephew.) They refer to themselves as Ian’s grandparents, which is what we call them too.

I met Iana in October 2010, on my first trip to Guyana. She was a quiet, taller 8 year old with searching eyes. I noticed that she often had a rag held to one of her ears and couldn’t hear well out of that ear. She occasionally attends the PAL tutoring program. When there are visitors, many of the children who float in and out of PAL come to be a part of the excitement. So Iana was there and really was intent about being near me and wanting one-on-one attention. She didn’t always get along with the other children and some of this I believe had to do with her hearing loss, as well as her emotional losses.

Angie (Caroline's Promise coordinator in Guyana) & I had the opportunity to be invited into her grandmother’s home in Plastic City one day. We had a long, tearful conversation about her hopes and fears for Iana. Her grandmother told us about the time they took Iana in, as well as the devastating loss last year of Iana’s grandfather, who was the one who suggested they bring Iana into their family and raise her as their own. Her grandmother said that he loved Iana very much. Emotionally, it was very difficult for Iana to lose one of only 2 people in the world she felt who loved her. The grandmother worries that if something happens to her, Iana will have to go to an orphanage. Iana’s constant ear problems and hearing loss also lay heavy on her heart. She has received conflicting reports from specialists at the public hospital on helping Iana and lacks the resources to pursue treatment. These ear issues further isolate Iana from her family and peers. They struggled to get by without a man to provide.

The day I left Guyana in 2010, the children were sad, but excited to know when would I return, and would I bring them chocolates… As I walked down the path to leave Plastic City, I was surrounded by a group of girls hanging on to the last moment. I gave last minute hugs and then walked down the road. I heard a voice call out to me, “Miss, Miss! She is crying!” and I turned around to see Iana with her face buried in her rag. Many, many times I have replayed that moment in my head… So sad about the emotional losses Iana has suffered, along with so many of the other children who are single and double orphans. These have repercussions that reach long and far into their lives. And yet, in light of their losses, it makes me so much more thankful for Angie and Vreedenhoop Wesleyan working in the Plastic City community.

This past October (2011) I returned to Guyana, so eager to see all the children I have prayed for and who have just taken part of my heart. Iana was definitely on my mind as we went into Plastic City. The first day, I saw her grandmother, who had opened up a small “shop” in Plastic City this past year. (basically cooked pastries and water, chips.) This was so exciting that she had a way to provide even a small amount for them. Iana was not there, but she assured me that Iana would be so happy to see me. The next day I was in Plastic City, headed to PAL tutoring and I heard “Miss Stephanie!!” I turned and there came Iana running towards me with her arms open wide. She wrapped me up in a hug and held me tight. Then she looked up at me, “You came back! You came back!” And hugged me again around my waist. I am not sure I can describe how that moment felt. Not just because I was choked up, but because Iana was able to feel at that moment that she mattered. I was able to tell her how happy I was to see her and hug her. It is difficult because Iana craves to be loved and have hope and a future and this is why the on-going work in Plastic City is so important to these children.

God has used Iana with me to REALLY hit home how important it is to these children’s futures that they feel loved and that they MATTER. HOPE changes things. It changes their viewpoint and how they look at themselves. Another moment hammered that this past visit. On our last day, Iana sat right beside me, holding my arm. At one point, she quietly said to me, “Do you remember that last time you did a picture with me and said “You are special” and wrote it on my picture? I remember. I have the picture at my house.” One year later…that picture we did in 2010 still hangs in her house. It was of a butterfly – trying to help the children realize that God created them special and they can be “beautiful butterflies”. It mattered that someone told her “You are special.” It wasn’t just a passing moment for her….because she did not think she was special. I remember that day in 2010, telling her not to forget that she was SPECIAL. And how much I wanted her to remember that! That moment showed me again, just how important it is, as short term volunteers, we are thoughtful and careful in our interactions with the children; what we say, we must mean! Because of Caroline's Promise commitment to Guyana, and their on-going work there, I am so thankful God enabled me to have this connection with the children. I know that I must understand that when I leave, the work continues!

This isn’t just Iana’s story but the story of child after child struggling with emotional loss, poverty, generational baggage. But it is a story of hope and of a future that we pray is brighter than her present. The presence of Angie and Vreedenhoop Wesleyan in bringing hope and healing to Plastic City is an incredible outreach for the future of these children.

In our next post, learn how you can partner with us to help Iana in a tangible way by assisting her grandmother to find help for Iana’s hearing issues.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Will You Pray TODAY?

From Angie Hemric, our coordinator in Guyana:

"Leadership – Theresa Style!
Posted on December 16, 2011 by

Theresa and Beni were glad to be the first ones to see me as I made my way into Plastic City on Thursday. They wanted to talk over a plan with me before the rest of the children began swarming. The core group (many who don’t go steady to school and did not go to the school party) had been wishing, from among themselves, for a PAL Christmas party. So Theresa and Beni were looked to by the group to share the idea with me. As we stood by the wall the duo walked me through the groups thinking and I quietly admired the thorough planning. I was also stirred by the genuine desire from the children to do the party from within their own means. Naturally I said yes, with only one clarification. I gently reminded them that this was not a core group party, but a core group planned party. Therefore it needed to be open to anyone who we know as a PAL kid. All were in agreement and I handed the impromptu planning session back over to the core leaders.

My hand was the scribe as Theresa told me what to write (smile) and my grin could not be hidden as I joyfully watched Theresa gracefully lead as the organizer. The only time my voice was heard was when I was asked for my thoughts or chose to pose a question to help them process a little more. Her supporting cast of Deborah, Safrose, Beni and Finny helped her make sure that every child could comfortably participant in the “chip-in” plan.

Theresa and the Beni family were the first to speak up and cover the cost of the party menu (Chow Mein, Fried Rice and cake). It is no secret in PC that you have poor children and poorer children, but I have never seen grace in children like I saw today. Today I learned from children, like Theresa, who found a way to give dignity to each one in the group. Once the drinks were covered by one person and a family of cousins pulled together to bring cups, food boxes and spoons Theresa and cast created a $100 ($.50) category. In this bracket children could choose to bring ice, balloons, party bags, cookies, sweeties…etc. I was amazed then to watch them in action, but as I put my thoughts on paper now – I am in awe...."

To read the rest, click here.

Will you pray with us today? Just a few minutes of your time, spent for the least of these.... join us.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

A Great Christmas Gift Idea!

We are excited to partner with a new Greensboro business, All About Baby Boutique!

To kick off this new venture we will be hosting an Open House this Saturday, December 17 from 10am - 4pm. This adorable new boutique is located close to UNC-G at the corner of Spring Garden & Blandwood. We will have our fair trade gift items and free gift wrap! Check out our newest items, including this cool Quetzal Peace Bag from Guatemala. At $20 this makes a great gift for any teen or young adult. The bag comes with our without the peace sign. You can also order this bag online .

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Christmas Sale on Caroline's Promise T-Shirts!

Looking for a fun, practical gift? Our Caroline's Promise t-shirts are on sale! Regularly $20 we are now selling them for $10!
Choose from the short sleeve or 3/4 length styles. Priced for great gift giving!

Order online here.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Sponsoring - A Volunteer's Thoughts

This post was written by one of our volunteers, Joanne, sharing some of her thoughts about child sponsorship.

"Last week we had quite a few of you respond to our urgent request for new sponsors to children at Casita that no longer had a sponsor and would lose their place in school if they didn't get another soon. We are SO THANKFUL for how quickly you took action! Thank you!

On Saturday, Caroline's Promise had Breakfast with Santa, (thanks to the hard work and initiative of Susan and Amber Gravely) which raised some much needed funds for Caroline's Promise. I (Joanne) took my son Justin with me so we could both help out at Breakfast with Santa. While we were there Justin was looking at the sponsorship album where we keep pictures of the kids in the sponsorship program... those who have sponsors, and those who are still in need. Justin found a little boy he wants us to sponsor. I told him that we would have to talk it over with daddy. Then last night, in preparing my mind for writing today's post, I realized that there were still many little boys at Casita Adonai that need sponsors. The little girls seem to get sponsors easily. So I asked all three of my boys what they thought I should post to inspire people to sponsor the boys. Justin's initial response, "What's wrong with boys?!?!". Followed by "We could sponsor Erick!" I was hoping for something a little more catchy. But really Justin hit the nail on the head. We are all made in the image of our loving God who wants us to share that love with everyone, especially orphans and widows (James 1:27). I know what I am probably getting for Christmas, another child sponsorship. And nothing could make me happier. :o) So I ask you, do you have the love in your heart to help one of the least of these?"

To make a life-time impact for a child in need, click here and follow the instructions.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Happy Adoption Day Caroline!

Eight years ago today we were united with Baby Caroline. She was five months old, living at Hannah's Hope in Guatemala City. It had been such a long process, but definitely worth the wait. The day before we flew to Guatemala we put our application for non-profit status in the mail. In some ways it seems like yesterday, in others it seems like so very long ago.

God has definitely blessed the ministry of Caroline's Promise. When we think of all the people we have met simply through this ministry we are overwhelmed! When we think about the faces of the children we have interacted with over the past eight years we are humbled.

All of the blessings that come with Caroline's Promise are nothing compared to the way our family was changed the day she was born. We can't imagine life without her, messy room and all! Each year she understands more about why Caroline's Promise exists. When she was two someone asked her what her name was and she said "Caroline Promise!" Those days are certainly gone! Now she can explain what the ministry is all about and how it helps kids and families. Each year as she travels to Guatemala she gives more and more of herself. It's a gift for us to be able to see her giving back.

Happy Adoption Day Caroline! We love you and are so very thankful you are our daughter!