DSC_2314 It’s been about a month since I returned from a 10 day trip to Guatemala and I’ve had time to ponder the experience. One of the best decisions I made was to take the time to visit NPH Guatemala, an orphan home in San Andres, Itzapa. I’ve known about NPH since we started 200 Orphanages as we helped NPH Haiti expand their orphan home after the earthquake in 2009.

This visit was my first to an NPH home and  included our DSC_2326Guatemalan daughter and her family. It was also my husband’s  first trip to an orphanage. Their hearts were touched beyond words and not only were their emotions moved, they made decisions to take action to do something to help an orphan in some way.

We visited on a Sunday and so the kids were all enjoying a relaxing day of fun and fellowship with volunteers and weekend staff. When we arrived, on-site director Chris Hoyt was out for a run with some of the older kids. We arrived a bit late and so we were met by one of the staff members until Chris and the running entourage returned.

To see NPH on a weekend, when the kids are free to play and enjoy their day was especially moving. They wandered up freely to Chris and the other staff for hugs and loving greetings and were met with hugs and greetings in return. The mutual love was apparent reflecting founder Father Wasson’s original vision that every child in the home is part of a loving family. In this case, a family of 300! But each child is special and is given individualized care and love. I am so touched by this wonderful organization. It is one of the many I am proud to support. It’s heart warming to see the vision of the founders be lived out  day by day through staff and volunteers.

So many things about the organization touched me. It is an example of the kind of partners we seek to help. They provide loving care to the orphans from infant to adulthood. The kids are well cared for and sustained by sponsors and receive food, clothing, education and medical care. There is a large garden that the kids help with that provides food day to day for the kids, along with livestock. Children take turns doing their part in the kitchen, cleaning, everything a child would do in a family. Each one has responsibilities and is encouraged to help their siblings. The farm is a large part of their operations, and takes a lot to keep up. Chris mentioned they could use more chickens and cattle, so if you want to help let us know. The kids don’t get meat very often, just once a week. As you can imagine, 300 mouths are a lot to feed!

I was impressed that the life of each child is important and a holistic approach is taken when considering their care. I love this. Children need individual guidance and even more so as they approach adulthood. NPH provides that. Once a child is older, he/she is able to learn a trade in the on-site vocational training, such as welding, baking, sewing and carpentry. Others who qualify for university are sponsored an NPH Guatemala had the largest number of children in their history attend University last year.

The NPH children are raised to be productive members of the family and the larger community. Children in the NPH family are asked to volunteer for a year of service in one of the NPH homes after they leave NPH. Many do, and many are the current leaders of the homes in one capacity or another.

NPH  cares for special needs children as well, and there is also a Montessori school. The Montessori school needs a fence that we’d like to fund. If you’d like to adopt this project, let me know! You can underwrite the whole fence, or any part of it. The total cost is $1800. Click here to donate. Write NPH Fence in the comments if you donate online!

We can’t do it all, but we can all do something!

Child1This is the theme running to and for in my head lately and I keep hearing others say the same thing, “Never Give Up.”

For those of you who know me, I am not one to give up easily. Maybe I fell on my head as a young child, but I stick with something until there’s just no more glue. I admit my tenacity is to a fault at times, some call it stubbornness, others call it persistence…some even dare call it foolish! Call it what you will, today I am digging in my heals.

I’m referring to the Angel of Mercy Home in Cameroon. We have been disappointed in having our grant for the well declined. After three long years and what appeared a funding success for the well, I was left scratching my head. BUT, as you would suspect, I’m not giving up. The orphans have been waiting for three long years to have a safe place to call home, they’re  fighting bad health and poverty beyond our imagination.. and they aren’t giving up, why should I? The  good thing about the delays is that water has become accessible to the orphan home from the road and will cfinishedlookangelofmercyost less to pipe it in. So, we’ve sent funds raised from donors, sponsors and participants from the Sartell Rotary Golf 4 Orphans. I’m told the work will take about a month. So thank you for your support… the project is lovely and one we can be proud to support.

Even though the work we do is such a small part for the orphans, but it’s a good work and it makes a difference in the lives of orphans. When I think about the orphans in Rwanda, Tanzania, Haiti, Uganda, India and Cameroon, and the devastation of their loss…  give up? Never.

When obstacles get in  the way, I dig in my heels and begin to look for ways to get around, through, over. We’ve made things happen to help orphans have safe shelter and sustainable lives. We can’t stop now.

Every orphan deserves a safe place to call home.

Impact of Foreign Aid: Myths and Where to Contribute

By Diana Ricketson.

From the time I was a child, I always knew ‘bad things happened’ in the world. From poverty to starvation, the world is chalk full of stories, anecdotes, and examples of human suffering. Some people wonder, are we really living in a better time? We have arguments for a longer life span, modern medicine, a better understanding of where we came from, where we might go, and the educational tools to enlighten our children. We have arguments against this idea; genocides, world wars, inequality between the rich and the poor, a growing sense of insecurity. For the purpose of this blog post, I will explore the answers based on the impact of foreign aid in the past few years to argue that we are getting better. I will explore the other arguments later to argue all faucets of our modern world, and how this relates to our mission at 200 Orphanages in later blog posts.

One of the Mercy Homes built in India.

One of the Mercy Homes built in India. Made possible by donors like you! The children will have a place to rest, learn, and improve their standing in the world.

According to the annual Bill Gate’s letter, there are three common myths associated with foreign aid. One, poor countries will continue to stay poor. According to Bill, however, that incomes and other measures of human welfare are rising almost everywhere, including Africa. Of course, income inequality still exists, and is getting worse in richer countries such as the United States. Also, 1 Billion people are still considered in poverty. There is much left to be done, but we can get there! (Gates, Bill).

Myth number 2: Foreign aid is a big waste. The United States spends about 30 Billion a year on foreign aid. There are other impacts that are obvious: healthy children attend school regularly, have a better overall mental health, and contribute more later on in life. He also talks about corruption; government officials pocketing money or dollars not being spent properly. There is a way to reduce this corruption, but not a way to entirely eliminate it. We should still continue providing aid, and putting our money towards small and big organizations. I argue that a combination of private and government aid will help reduce corruption and allow for a variety of different . Government can collect large amounts of tax money while a private organization that is small can reach out to donors on a more personal level, such as 200 Orphanages, and be held accountable. Government has a vast network of private citizens to collect money on a larger scale, while an organization as small as 200 Orphanages can focus on a few areas and projects. (Gates, Bill).

The third myth is that saving lives leads to overpopulation. This could be a blog in of itself, but the basic principle is that while it may seem that it would lead to overpopulation, this is just not the case. In a nutshell, populations where there is adequate education, nutrition, safety, and work, people have less children. When there is a chance that someone’s offspring will not survive, families tend to have more children in order to make sure that the family survives. There is a multitude of research and other reasons, but that is the basic principle! (Gates, Bill).

We should continue monitoring and providing foreign aid to countries. Contributions made by the government and private citizens to charities such as 200 Orphanages does have an impact on those we send the money to. Nothing is perfect, but a combination of government collecting money via taxes and sending it to charities, and private charities focusing on a few key areas is the best combination to fight against poverty. Government has the power and the ability to collect millions while smaller charities can pin point particular regions, projects, type or problems.

In a future blog posts, I will talk about other issue facing our modern world and how they relate to 200 Orphanages. I will also look at domestic issues within the United States as well.

Gates, Bill. “3 MYTHS THAT BLOCK PROGRESS FOR THE POOR.” 2014 Gates Annual Letter: Myths About Foreign Aid. Bill Gates, Jan. 2014. Web. 14 Feb. 2014. <http://annualletter.gatesfoundation.org/#section=myth-three

handactsharegiveDo you have room in your heart for one more?

Think about the people in your life and if you have room or want to make room, there are lots of things you can do.You can mentor a child with groups like Big Brothers Big Sisters, you can adopt a child as your own, you can sponsor a child’s education or living expenses, you can help us raise awareness and funds to provide safety, shelter and sustenance for orphans. You can help us help them.

There may be ways to move things around in our lives, in our hearts even and make room for just one more. If we ACT, SHARE OR GIVE, if we all just made room for one more, what a different world this would be! I know many of you have already made room, but if not you can join our Giving Hearts Club! You can help us help them, and participate in building an orphan home, click on the photo and get started!

We can’t do it all, but we can all do something!


1st Blog for January 2024…. no, that’s not a typo. Even though 2024 sounds light years away, it’s only 10 short years into the future. The goal setter, the visionary, the strategist in me likes to wonder out and just look around a bit.

And, so… in 2024, I’ll be 10 years older. It’s not as horrible as it sounds if I am still healthy and strong. By 2024, 200 Orphanages will be 16 years old, providing safe shelter for more orphans. Setting a course to 2024, my goal is to make the minutes count, all 5,256,000 of them.

To that end, a few weeks ago, I created “My Life in Pie Charts” as a tool to manage my timtimeallocationse and priorities. I have to say the Pie Charts took on a life of their own and my daughter was not impressed. She marveled (out loud) that I had time to create them in the first place. She has four small children, is starting her own business and still finds time to mock me. How does she do it! She’s always been an over achiever. Be that as it may, my life in pie charts is one way I organize and prioritize my time and efforts.

Today, my pie charts are on a white board in front of me as I work. I admit, it adds a bit of stress, like an unrelenting boss, but I always remind myself they are just a guide.  As you can see, when optimizing my personal time, 10% is spent on mental and physical health (I’ll be breaking here in a few to go for a walk). Also, if I follow my Pie Charts, I participate (30%) in our 12+ grandkids’ lives as they travel through teens and into early adulthood.  (Later today, I’mylifeinpiechartsm going to a soccer game featuring a grandson.) I give 30% of my time to the orphan work. (I just prepared this blog, but also sent out an email blast for our Spring Fever 5K this morning and need to make a phone call or two) So, by 2024, my vision is that 200 Orphanages will have more than 20 orphan homes built along with 30 infrastructure projects.  So, I say who has time NOT to have a pie chart?

Granted, I only have a blurry glimpse of 2024, but I know it’s out there and it’s gaining on me! So, I have a plan. In saying that, I fully expect the present to be filled with achievement and celebrations. In 2014, we will have two orphan homes built and are taking on new partners. In my personal life we’ll celebrate life as my parents’ turn 80, my husband and sister turn 60, and my marriage turns 40…. You’d think that the present would be enough to fill my mind, but no, I’m off making pie charts and looking into the future!

LOGOsquarenyearsI’m ringing in the new year with a call to “Deliberate Generosity”.

I made a choice a few years ago to think of  time spent in the same terms as money. If  time and talents were  resources to be invested or spent, what am I spending mine on?  It’s easier to track with money, you spend and get something in return. It’s easy to see what you’ve purchased. But, what about time and talents?  It’s not as tangible, but your return is just as real.

So, with that comparison, I decided to deliberately spend my time and talents on things that I believed  mattered the most, my family, and faith and the orphans. Today, I deliberately choose to spend my time and talents to help orphans knowing I can’t do it all, but I can do something.

I started 200 Orphanages Worldwide more than 5 years ago and since then, we’ve made it part of our mission to encourage deliberate generosity in others. With the support of others, we’ve helped provide safety and shelter at 8 different partners. We’ve built security walls in Haiti, Uganda and Rwanda. We’ve helped orphan homes with sustainable agricultural projects in Rwanda, Cameroon and Tanzania. We’ve built two orphan homes, one in India and one in Cameroon and expanded another in Haiti. We’ve helped complete dining halls in India and Tanzania. These projects were completed because of deliberate generosity.

We all have one life to spend and limited resources… so join me in making life count. Consider deliberate generosity as your way of life by sharing a portion of your time and talents on something you’re passionate about. We’d love to have your help providing safe shelter for orphans in 2014.  You really can do a world of good.

11445987986_6ed67066ab_bWe Christians recognize December 25 as the day to celebrate the birth of our Savior Jesus Christ. His humble birth, exemplary life and purposeful death are honored by millions on this day. Jesus, born in squalor, lived well and gave his life, the ultimate gift, so that those who believe will have life eternal.

Today, joyful gift giving  has become central to Christmas celebrations, as well as a visit with Jolly Old St. Nick or our Santa Claus.  My grandchildren saw Santa on the 520 in Seattle the other day…. he’s a busy guy! He waved from the passenger seat… no doubt his reindeer were still at the north pole. We also were able to have Santa come to our house…I met up with him at a Rotary meeting. Apparently Santa’s a Rotarian… of course he is!

Amidst all this celebrating, the buying and giving,  I like to think the focus  on gifts is in honor of the gift of life given to us.

But, there’s more to the holidays than gift giving. I treasure being with my family and demonstrating  my love for them in other ways as well. I am blessed to have a large family, lots of young grandchildren to love and adore. And I am well aware, as many of you are, that not all children have grandparents or parents to love and adore them. Too many are left behind because of poverty or disease and misfortune. Too many are orphaned and alone. This is why I do what I can to help. I treasure our partners, I treasure you, for doing your part to help ease the loneliness and lack an orphan experiences every day. We’ve been able to help more orphans this year than ever with the gift of  safety and shelter. You have made that happen.

We can’t do it all, but we can all do something. Thank you for doing your something!

Finding the Balance

-Wants vs. Needs

A Message From Diana Ricketson, 200 Orphanages Worldwide Social Media Manager:

A few days ago, I saw an interesting video based on the #firstworldproblems. Examples included, “My house is so big I need to wifi routers to reach the whole house, or “My phone charger won’t reach my bed. These #firstworldproblems can be problems in our world. In the article some of the examplesof #firstworldproblems were made as a joke, I get that, but for me the message from the comments struck a chord.

The comments I  read were “Oh, that made me think that my problems aren’t so bad,” Or; “That made me think twice about being concerned about my wireless troubles.” Other comments were more cynical: “we should not be made to feel guilty about others suffering; some problems are no worse than others,” These people in developing nations are already being helped, there are always camera crews there manipulating people to donate.”

Not long ago, while suffering from depression, I quit my sales job, moved back home with my parents, and started a part-time job. I had no romantic prospects, and it was not looking up for a full-time marketing position in Atlanta. At the same time, my Aunt’s husband was suffering from early Alzheimer’s.  People tried to tell me that at least I had a roof over my head, and my husband of 20 years was not suffering from Alzheimer’s. I could build an argument that my problems were as important.

After a time, my aunt’s experience helped take me out of myself and place me beyond my “I have problems too you know, including…my phone charger not reaching the bed that could eventually lead to torn ligaments from straining.”

What struck me after viewing the video was the failure most of us have understanding needs and wants. The people in the video didn’t have even the most basic needs met for survival. This is there world.. It’s clear no one really needs a phone charger to survive. Many people in the world  live in survival mode. In the #firstworldproblems it may not seem so. Not having safe shelter to prevent bugs, wind, rain, sun, and predators out, those are real problems many people on the earth experience every day. It made me aware  the need problems are greater than the want problems. Do you need an iPhone more than you need clean water? (I can hear you joining the argument in my head) This video helped me put my wants vs. needs in perspective this holiday season and motivates me to help knowing I can’t do it all, but I can do something.

If we can help others in need, and turn our focus away from ourselves by providing shelter, clean water, food, safety, clothes, medicine, education, and sanitation, then we can all focus on lengthening those short phone chargers. Here is an opportunity to help an orphan in need.

Correction, the video in question is not affiliated with water.org. A link to the video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fxyhfiCO_XQ

We Need Your Help With Our Global Giving Campaign! DONATE,  SHARE OR BOTH!

Just 13 DAYS LEFT…And Man, Do We Have A Long Way To Go! Please click to help us complete fund raising for the first floor of the orphan home in India. Your gift of $25 or more on Dec. 19 will be matched, so let’s make it count!

Your Impact On The World

Tplacetocallhomehis Mercy Home family in Kerala India will grow to 10 orphans boys once the second floor of the home we are building is completed.

It’s generous people like you who have put in the well, and the first floor. The second floor is next, along with paint and landscaping around this building to make it a home!

We have a lot to do… We can’t do it all, but we can all do something! Please consider donating to our Global Giving Project, you can even become a recurring donor.

Thank you for your heartfelt and generous support this holiday season!

give_nowWhere would Santa be without his helpers? Well, I think we all know that answer to that! Please consider donating to help us meet our goals. We’re far behind our goals, but even still, we keep moving forward hoping for the best! It’s uphill all the way my friend!

As you read further, please take a minute to watch a video from one of our partners JBFC-Tanzania. Your support this past year just helped them increase their livestock, enabling them to become sustainable as an orphan home for girls!

As an all volunteer organization, all of your support goes to the project, so be generous.

As you  know, 200 Orphanages Worldwide depends on dedicated and talented volunteers and supporters. Without you, we would not be able to help the orphans the way we do. We are meeting more and more people who just want to help an orphan in some way, so here are just a few who came to help us recently in amazing ways: 

DianaricketsonMeet Diana Ricketson: Diana answered the call on Volunteer Match for a social media manager. Her heart for the children is what motivates her.  She’ll be directing our online communications as Social Networking Coordinator. Diana is great and has amazing qualifications.. She’s brilliant! You’ll be hearing from her soon in numerous ways. Thank you Diana for having a heart for the children.

Meet Chuck Gooley: Chuck came to us also through Volunteer Match. We called out for web developers/designers to help us retool our web site. Chuck decided to use his skills to help nonprofits like ours rebrand or retool their websites. Thank you Chuck for what you do! He’s been patient as we work through details of building and rebuilding a better website, it’s a long process, but we will by the first quarter of next year have a new look!

  coryraceMeet Cory Scheer: Cory is running 12 marathons a month for a year to call attention to causes dear to his heart. We are gratefully on his list and he’s organizing his first Virtual 5K. Participants register online with a donation to one of 5 basic needs charities he’s selected.

200 Orphanages provides the basic need of shelter and safety. We’re benefiting by participants donating at varying amounts and selecting 200 Orphanages. All participants run their own 5K on April 13, 2014… We are able to keep the participants updated on our project progress… thank you Cory! Thank you Virtual 5K participants! Learn more about Cory’s story and his own personal marathon challenge progress and the Virtual 5K at www.basicneedsmarathon.com

Meet Lori Fuchs and Kevin Hardy with EnduRUNce Shop and Snap Fitness. These two hearty souls are organizing kevinhardyour Spring Fever 5K for February 23 2014. This is Lori’s 5th year and Kevin’s 2nd. I can’t help but delight in their generous hearts… it takes time and energy out of their busy days to make something happen on behalf of the orphans.

LorifuchsThese just a few examples of how a volunteer organzation is able to provide safe shelter for orphans who have so litte. We’ve met the most amazing people in this work… thank you!

We can’t do it all, but we can all do something!

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