I find it so amazing that it’s been almost 7 years since I started raising awareness and funds for building projects to better serve orphans.
Because of donors and volunteers, we’ve funded more than one project a year in our quest to one day touch to 200 Orphanages. So, I guess to accomplish our goal, I’ll have to live a long time… or quadruple my efforts! But, as legacies go, this work is supposed to outlast me. My desire to build something that lasts on behalf of orphans remains strong. Little by little, step by step we’re touching the lives of orphans in need.
So, here I am, seven years later and because donors, supporters and volunteers are catching the vision we’ve raised funds to build family style orphan homes, security walls, dig clean water wells, outdoor kitchens, even a concession store for vocational training for disabled orphans and livestock buildings. We’ve touched orphans at various organizations in Rwanda, Cameroon, Tanzania, Uganda, India, Haiti and Guatemala.
Truth be told, I didn’t know what to expect when I started this work. I just knew I needed to quit talking about doing something for orphans and actually DO SOMETHING ALREADY! I yearned to put feet to my faith, and make a direct impact in the lives of orphans and this is the result. It isn’t saving the world, it wasn’t intended to. As we say, we can’t do it all, but we can all do something.
We’ve touched the lives of orphans… and the work goes on.
If you’re going to fall, try to fall forward. Then, get up and look around, brush yourself off and start again from there. When I hurled myself off the cliff, endeavoring to beat the odds, start a nonprofit during the Great Recession, my mission was to do what I could to serve orphan needs. There’s been a lot of first, fails and falls… but at least we’re falling forward. I knew the work would be hard, but it’s easy to put “hard” in perspective with orphan care. “Hard” is living each day as an orphan.
So we continue the work. All the successes we claim are because we haven’t given up and because our supporters and volunteers share our passion to help orphans. It’s because of our supporters that a handful of the 150 million orphans in the world have a safe place to call home. The need is great. We can’t do it all, but we can all do something.
Each day, each week, each month and each year we fall forward. We’ve been raising awareness and funds to provide safety, shelter and sustainability for orphans for about 6 years.
We’re on the way to building our second orphan home, we’ve provided security with block walls and fences, and we’ve helped build sustainability with wells, outdoor kitchens and livestock buildings. All of this so orphans can have a safety, shelter and sustainability. And you get the benefit of knowing your funds made a direct impact in the life of an orphan. Your investment has real life returns.
And the smile on that child’s face? It’s because of you.
I have the privilege of working with many talented and generous people. More examples of those practicing deliberate generosity. Today, I’m introducing three dedicated individuals who each decided on their own they want to do something for orphans in need. They found us on volunteermatch.org as they sought out opportunities. Today they are making our mission their own. Each oneusing their talents and skills to help our partners build awareness and funds about building projects that will better serve the orphans in their care. We can’t do it all but we can all do something.
They each took the next step after learning about what we do. They said… how can I help.
Diana Ricketson, Social Media Manager
Diana Ricketson lives in Atlanta and her mission is to help make life better for orphans from right where she is. She’s engaging her marketing and social networking skills to that end. Her heart and motivation inspires me. She lives for likes, so do us a favor… like our page on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/200Orphans
Dorie Lincoln, Web Designer
Albert Hurt, Social Media Specialist
Dorie Lincoln also took the next step and connected with us when she heard about our mission. She’s developing skills in coding and web design. Well, guess what we needed! Dorie is helping us enhance our image and soon we’ll see the results of her dedication and effort. She too has a heart for orphans and using her skills and talents to make the life of an orphan just a bit brighter. Watch for our new site in the next few months.
Albert Hur engaged with us almost two months ago and is intense about helping our cause through social networking. His goal is to engage our followers and friends and see results through making a greater impact building projects for the orphans. For him, results are in people pressing that GIVE button and following up with a donation!
The best thing is, they all have embraced the vision and are doing what they can to make a difference. They are so much fun to work with I can only say thank you. Each one brings joy to my heart and a smile to my face. Our virtual meetings are delightful and I can only see more orphans having safety, shelter and sustainability as a result.
Our supporter Ken Panger funded 4 wells for Mercy Homes in India. The faces of these boys reflects Ken’s passion and what he’s doing for the poor in India.
The Happiest People On Earth…I think I’ve met of few of them. You know, they’re the people who get up each morning with a purpose. They’re the ones who think they can actually make a difference in our world and then go about to do just that. As we say, we can’t do it all, but we can all do something. They do something.
I’ve met some of them who’ve embraced this maxim. They are different in so many ways, but the same in that they bring their unique talents and skills to do what they can.
Some recent examples are: Ken funds wells to improve lives; Cory raises funds by running marathons, Dorie and Diana use social media to get the message out to find new supporters, Katie paints beautiful faces in hopes of donating proceeds to orphan care, Lori mobilizes her friends and family to organizes an annual 5K, the Lewis and Clark Elementary staff and students join together in the Basic Needs Virtual 5K to raise money for a building project for orphans. Others raise funds with Yoga retreats, some with Golf outings, some with Gala’s and Art Auctions…, some do casino nights… all have a passion to make a difference. Each day, the happiest people on earth put one foot in front of the other, set their course to deliberately, generously give of themselves.
I am honored to know them and excited to meet the rest of you!
Lori Fuchs, board member and volunteer works with colleagues each year to raise funds with the Spring Fever 5K.
Diana Ricketson, determined and talented in all things Marketing! She’s made a difference in the lives of orphans by helping us build our social network so we can get the word out on our partner needs.
Relindis Moffor at the HIV/AIDS orphan home in Cameroon built with funds from 200 Orphanages and the Giving Trip Volunteers!
Jan Hanson thanking the Lewis and Clark Elementary students for their participation in the Basic Needs Virtual 5K. They chose to help the orphans around the world with their proceeds.
Cory Scheer, Dean of Admissions at William Jewel College in Liberty MO. He’s running a marathon a month this year, (4 to go!) to raise money for basic needs, including safe shelter for orphans
Dorie Lincoln hopes to use her social media and web design skills to make a difference in the lives of orphans.
Katie Ruprecht-Wittrock, is using her artistic talents to raise money for orphan homes.
We recently were made aware of a few needs from our partners–a chicken coop in Tanzania and four wells in India. We shared the needs with two friends with generous hearts who decided they would meet the needs.
The gratitude is obvious on the faces of the children. The orphan girls at Janada Batchelor Foundation for Children in Tanzania now have meat to eat more often and can sell their product at the market. Being sustainable is critical and we are happy our supporter made that happen.
The4 clean water wells in India were funded recently and will provide water for orphan homes and the community at large. Imagine having access to clean water for the first time in your life. One person with a heart for clean water made that happen.
We are so touched by the deliberate generosity of our friends.
We are reaching out to our friends and supporters to help build a fence around the Montessori school at NPH-Guatemala. The cost is $1800 and all the funds donated will go directly to the fence. If you’d like to help, donate online from our website. You can make a child smile today!
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 Guatemalan 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!
This 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 cost 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.
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. 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.
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!
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 time 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’m 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!