Our Mercy Care site is located in the Mwingi region of Kenya. This area is dry and arid, and usually receives very little rain. Last spring, however, unusually heavy rainfall drenched the region. The soft, dry soil was heavily eroded, devastating farms and roads. Many homes and structures were extensively damaged, as they were not built to withstand rainstorms.
With families and children left vulnerable, we scrambled to provide makeshift shelters. Other families in the community generously offered to share their small homes with displaced families. One of the most affected families was a family of five left homeless, as their entire house collapsed.
Madeline is used to living a busy life. She’s the mother and sole caretaker of Phalancia, Phalanda, Fedelin, Phadelin, and baby Phedjina. The family lives together in Terrier-Rouge, a community near our Haiti North site.
One of Madeline’s children, Phalancia, is sponsored with Chalice. Sponsorship helps Madeline provide better care for her children, but the family still lacks many necessities. For many years, they lived in an inadequate home made of clay, and Madeline constantly worried that it would collapse.
In the Philippines, many children living in poverty are in poor health. Malnutrition, leading to anemia and poor dental health, is one of the most urgent issues at many of our Filipino sites. Through the support of our sponsors and donors, we work with our local partners to implement nutrition programs to help nourish hungry children and families.
In addition to sponsorship, our Tondo site in the Philippines provides regular daily meals supported through our nutrition program. Vitamins and extra supplements are also provided to anemic and vitamin deficient children.
So far, the children in Tondo have greatly benefited from the regular, healthy meals. In our 2017-2018 year, 144,551 meals were fed to children in need. Sponsored children aren’t the only ones who benefit- the coordinators were given permission to feed other children who were hungry and came asking for food, as long as the children in the program were fed.
In northern Ghana, it’s often incredibly difficult for children to attend school. Lack of transportation, public services, and food insecurity all prevent children from attending class. Many young adults move to the prospering southern towns, leading to a further lack of teachers and services.
For over ten years, Chalice has been working in northern Ghana to help bring education, food, and safety to vulnerable children and their families. In 2013, Chalice partnered with the Wa School for the Deaf to help provide even further services to children in need.
St. Don-Bosco special school, built in 2016, is a sub-campus of Wa School for the Deaf which caters specifically to children with intellectual disabilities. The school has 102 teenage students, many of whom are sponsored through Chalice. The students thrive despite their disabilities, and are learning trades such as making soap, detergent, sandals, and beads, and gardening and animal rearing.
Due to its rural location, the school faces its fair share of challenges. Water and sanitation has been an ongoing issue. It’s a monumental task to provide enough safe, clean drinking water for the students, and hard to find enough water for the crops and animals on campus.
On August 8, 2018, Lesya and her family endured an unexpected disaster. A fire, caused by an electrical short circuit, blazed throughout Lesya’s family home near our Ternopil site in the Ukraine. The fire damaged much of their kitchen and furniture, and destroyed the roof and beams in their nearby barn and shed. Lesya’s mother, Halyna, raises her four children alone, and is unable to work full-time. The family survives on their garden and small poultry farm. The damage caused by the fire was devastating to the family’s daily lives and to their livelihood.
One of the greatest joys of sponsoring a child is the opportunity to build a real, lasting connection. Sponsors receive yearly updates on their precious sponsored children, including a new photo and details about school and family life. The most heartwarming, personal touch to these updates are the handwritten letters and pictures from your sponsored child. As a sponsor, you receive a letter twice a year, and are able to send as many letters as you’d like.
Good topics to write about are family, children, friends, hometown, the weather, pets, and hobbies. If you have children in your family, sending their hand-drawn pictures is a big hit. Sponsored children write about similar topics, and often share their hopes, dreams, and hobbies with their sponsors! At Christmas, sponsored children take special care into crafting their letters. They even include a beautiful handmade card to wish their sponsors a warm and joyous Christmas.
Farming can be a tough way to make a living. Harsh weather, drought, and quick changes in seasons can spell an early end to a year’s worth of work. In Kenya, farming and agriculture is a source of livelihood for many families. Many parents at our Baraka site are farmers, and can only work when the conditions are right. It can be difficult for parents without full-time work to budget and provide for their children year round. Many people take odd jobs throughout the year to try to make ends meet.
Family Circle members at our Baraka site, comprised of parents and guardians of sponsored children, meet regularly to discuss their family budgets. Many members began to discuss ways to supplement their income, and began researching different business ventures. They discovered that raising chickens, a very common practice in Baraka, can be turned into a profitable small business with a little extra effort. Chickens are easy to raise, provide extra nutrition for the family, and both chicks and eggs can be sold for a profit.
Nutrition is the foundation to a healthy life. Kids who eat healthy, well-balanced meals every day have the fuel to excel. Nourished children learn better in class, and have the energy to laugh, run, and play. In communities near our CMAVIL site in Paraguay, healthy eating isn’t always common knowledge. Many parents come from a background where they never learned healthy eating habits. It can be hard for busy mothers to make sure their children get the proper nourishment, especially those without access to resources or education.
Theresa, from Serenje, Zambia, had to leave her mother and father when she was very young. Theresa comes from a large family, and has three sisters and five brothers. Her parents, who work as farmers, cannot provide for all of their children, especially when rainfall is scarce and crops are poor. When Theresa’s older brother was old enough for a job of his own, he took Theresa and one of her sisters to live with him, his wife, and their child in another town.
When Theresa first went to live with her brother, they all lived in a tiny thatched hut in a mission compound. The hut was small, uncomfortable, and worst of all, unsafe. The three women in the hut didn’t feel secure at night, and Theresa’s brother feared for the safety of his newborn. They wished desperately for a safer home, but Theresa’s brother didn’t make enough as a general worker to send Theresa and her sister to school, let alone purchase a new home.