COVID-19 made 2020 a difficult year for many, and A Child’s Hope was no exception. The virus led to the death of a loved team member, service trips being canceled, and orphanages struggling to meet the higher demand for food when their kids started taking classes online instead of in-person. Economic challenges also led to increased prices for groceries and other household items.
In spite of all the hardships, you were able to accomplish incredible things this year like raising over $19,000 for our Feed an Orphan campaign, funding new tutors and therapists, and breaking the record during our 12 Days of Giving campaign for Christmas donations. Ultimately, none of this could have happened without you—our donors, advocates, and volunteers. Want to hear more about the exciting developments that took place this year? Follow along as we recap this year’s greatest challenges and highlights from each of our five partnering orphanages!
Rancho de Los Niños
Thanks to you, the children at Rancho de los Niños are now thriving with the help of therapists and tutors. For example, before 13-year-old Angela started working with Leticia and Vicky on reading, writing, and speech therapy, she was placed in the second grade. With their support and her hard work, she ended the year in fifth grade! We’ll be sending out more stories like hers in the coming months.
As mentioned earlier, COVID provided plenty of challenges for these orphanage directors and children. Most of the kids got sick, but thankfully, over time, they were all able to get better. Additionally, thanks to all the donations from donors like you, they were able to recover from the major food shortages they experienced at the start of the pandemic.
One of the most difficult challenges was losing Alex Ortiz, our construction coordinator in Mexico, who passed away unexpectedly shortly after being diagnosed with COVID. All those who knew him miss him deeply. His example of love, humor, and service continues to inspire us. The children at Nuestra Familia created a memorial in the area where he parked his truck because of how much they loved him as an adopted uncle.
As well as suffering emotionally, Nuestra Familia struggled twofold due to food shortages. Not only were there not enough resources, but they had also recently taken in several new children which left them at a $9,000 peso deficit (around $450 USD). Your contributions were instrumental in easing their burdens. One of the orphanage directors, Emma, wrote: “At 6:30am, … I received an email from Erin (one of A Child’s Hope’s employees) stating that NuFam would be receiving a $500 grant to help us get through the rest of the month, I cried. We have all been praying for the welfare of everyone, for A Child’s Hope and for this nightmare to be over.”
In spite of these challenges, the kids have all been doing surprisingly well. Emma says they are still taking mass and classes very seriously. During times when they are a little more rowdy, Orlinda, one of the psychologists, has been doing group therapy in place of individual therapy in order for the children to participate in activities and distract themselves. Emma has also had significant success with her new behavior system that focuses on gratitude, respect and obedience. Each week they use a chart to keep track of each child’s completed chores and other responsibilities. She chooses a different child to focus on each week, and if they have done well, she rewards them. She has seen significant improvement since she first implemented this system.
Unfortunately, out of all the orphanages, Buena Vida had the most trip cancellations, however, there were still plenty of success stories during the year. Most importantly, the orphanage received its Operation License from DIF (the Mexican government’s version of Child Protective Service) and will be given the physical license once they are released from quarantine. This license allows Buena Vida to start accepting more children to care for. After receiving the license, DIF brought in four new children which has helped to curb the other childrens’ boredom. All of the children immediately befriended the new arrivals and love playing with them. Gabriel (the orphanage director) has also been very pleased with the integration of the new kids. He’s impressed that, despite in-home learning, the kids have been able to complete all the homework they have received. That has been a major feat!
The 22 year-old orphanage assistant director at Guaymas, Arturo, writes: “We just want to say that we are so thankful to God and to you! This is the Lord’s home, and He moves us to do what is right. Thank you, friends, for being a part of this family and this work of God. You guys are all angels to the kids, and they always ask for ‘los de Utah’ (the ones from Utah). Kent once told me that it is very important for the kids to feel that they belong and are loved. This has always stuck with me.” It’s been difficult, but even with all the new regulations, they were still able to throw a small graduation party at the end of the school year. At the start of the year, they were having major issues with their WiFi, but thanks to your support, this was quickly resolved.
The biggest news from Guaymas is related to education. Thanks to some great teachers, the kids are all working very well—even the rebellious ones! The teachers have done a very good job at finding each child’s learning styles and accommodating them in a short amount of time. Additionally, after a visit from one of the volunteers, one of the teen orphans felt significantly more confident about continuing her own education. All the children are encouraged to continue investing in their futures academically, but that particular volunteer impacted that young girl’s decision to pursue her own future in ways that no one else has been able to.
Aside from the children, Arturo himself has hit several milestones in his own education. He finally completed his Bachelor’s in International Business Management and has since achieved straight A’s in his master’s program at the University of Latin America. He’s become quite exceptional at multitasking his classes with his various responsibilities at the orphanage. Madre Angelica, the head nun in charge of the orphanage, is very grateful for his management support. He’s come a long way from his own childhood development in the same orphanage!
Miracles happened in Haiti this year! As many of you probably know, a private donor purchased an undeveloped plot of land for the school to be built upon. All the construction was going according to plan until there was a governmental dispute about the currency exchange value of the American dollar to the Haitian Gourde. The result was that the government slashed the value of the dollar in half. “Literally overnight,” as Construction Coordinator, Dave Terry stated, the value of the dollar dropped from 105 Gourdes to 64. This caused a major deficit in the money that was originally fundraised for the school and the construction came to a screeching halt. However, thanks to dōTERRA Healing Hands Foundation and many other generous donors, we now have the funds required for the completion of the two-story school! The entire project is estimated to be completed within the next two months!
Once the building is complete, we will be looking for donors interested in contributing toward the installment of solar panels to run the school’s electricity (in place of the current generator). Along with the building, the construction of a new well, funded by LDS charities, will soon serve the children in the community as well as the orphanage. Lastly, another private donor has committed to fund the staffing needs for the school.
Here at A Child’s Hope, we are thrilled with the progress that everyone has been making. We’re even excited to announce that A Child’s Hope is in the process of helping five more orphanages in Mexico get certified! More information on each of them will come out later this year. As for the five that we currently work with, your contributions funded fourteen crucial projects for all of the orphanages thanks to our new Project Tile fundraising platform. You contributed $39,050 from our 12 Days of Giving campaign, provided our partnering orphanages with $16,366 from the Feed An Orphan initiative, provided for psychologists and tutors to help the children, carried out another successful summer camp and so much more. 2020 definitely had its challenges, but as we look back, we see that there was plenty of light to disperse the darkness.