• GO HOME

    image001
  • Great Missions Trips for the Familiy

  • Partners of Hope

  • Other FCI Blogs

  • Archive of Posts

Finishing Well in 2017

December 7th, 2017 by

Three boys ready for school. | Dorie's Promise Guatemala

By Kelly Shank –

Alejandra is full of happy engery. | Dorie's Promise Guatemala2017 has been an amazing year at Dorie’s Promise. Over the last few months we’ve shared stories about all the big things happening in our home. Our children, staff, and trip participants all experienced life changing opportunities over the last year.

If you missed our stories about Nayeli’s first year in college, Myra’s quinceañeara, or the children who moved into our home after the fire at the Virgen de la Asunción orphanage, you can find them and many more on the blog.

Even though 2017 has been an amazing year already, we believe the biggest blessings for Dorie’s Promise have yet to come. The stories we share about the big things happening in our home highlight all the work being done behind the scenes by our staff. You don’t hear about the mountains of laundry that get washed each morning or the hours our drivers spend running kids to school but these daily tasks are what make a home for our children and that is the reason we work so hard.

You know that we rely on the generosity of donors for all of our needs but what you might not realize is that we rely heavily on the generosity of a few people to continue operating each year because we don’t have enough monthly sponsors. The majority of our funding is received through special donations at the end of each year which is a little bit scary when we’re paying the bills. We need your help to meet our budget for 2017.

Lester concentrates hard on a Lego project. | Dorie's Promise GuatemalaWe are trusting that once again God will faithfully provide for the needs of our children.

As we celebrate 2017 we also want to look forward to 2018. Next year Brayan will be graduating from high school and we are committed to supporting him as he prepares for his future career. Plus, we are anticipating regular maintenance needs in our homes and with our vehicles over the next year. We are planning ahead so we can make the most out of the gifts we receive.

Our dream is to double the number of children in our care. Instead of being limited to 40 kids, we want to serve 80 children but we are not in a financial position to expand yet. To do so, we need to reach 100% funding through monthly sponsorships for the children already in our care. When we can reach this goal, we can start welcoming more children.

Will you help us finish well in 2017?

Becoming fully sponsored is our biggest Christmas wish! We believe that God is calling people to become a part of our family this Christmas. If you already sponsor one of our children monthly, would you consider inviting a friend to sponsor one of our kids as well?

Jenny gives a hug to one of our volunteers. | Dorie's Promise GuatemalaWe know that God will provide and we invite you help share in the blessings at Dorie’s Promise. We thank you and our kids do too. Join the Dorie’s Promise family by becoming a monthly sponsor today or by giving a one-time donation. Thank you for making dreams come true for our children this Christmas season.

Here a just a few of the highlights from 2017:

Watching Brayan Grow into Adulthood

December 1st, 2017 by

Brayan is turning 18 in January.

By Kelly Shank –

Brayan when he first arrived at Dorie's Promise

Brayan in 2007.

When Brayan was barely 3 years old he toddled into our home for the first time. It’s hard to believe that in just 2 short months he’ll turn 18 years old!

For Heather, our founder, Brayan is like one of her own children. Having spent several years living in Guatemala with her family during the opening of Dorie’s Promise, Heather has known Brayan since he first entered our home and her family’s memories include him as a little boy playing with her children.

Recent visitors to our home will recognize Brayan as the fun-loving young man who towers over the other boys. He’s also the one you will definitely want on your soccer team because he’s really good. If you’ve spent any amount of time with Brayan you can’t help but smile when you think about him because he’s one of the happiest children in our home, always smiling and his laugh is contagious. Plus, he’s always ready to help anyone whether that’s during community projects with teams, the maintenance men around our house, the Special Mothers, or the other children. He’s a really good kid we all love.

In the last year we’ve started to make a transition in our home.

Where our home was once filled with cribs and babies, now it’s full of video games, makeup, tweens and teens. Almost half of our children are 10 years old or older and many of them will be with us until they reach adulthood. So, just like Nayeli last year and Brayan this year, we’re carefully trying to help prepare each of them for their future.

Brayan in 2017 at Dorie's Promise.

Brayan in 2017

We are about to begin what may be the hardest work we’ve ever done—helping each child become a successful, independent adult. We have many ways to make this happen and great opportunities available for our children but we truly want to make the absolute best choice for each individual by balancing their desires, their unique talents, their struggles, and the resources available.

Although he will turn 18 this January, Brayan will be staying at Dorie’s Promise. He has another year of school left in his vocational training before he graduates. Giving him the benefit of a full education is a priority for us. Brayan is working hard in school because he wants to get a good job. Thanks to his schooling, he will have experience and training that gives him an edge in the workforce. Plus, there are more things he wants to learn this year, like photography. Alejandra, our Director, is hoping to enroll Brayan in photography classes to help him improve his skills and explore his career possibilities with local professionals.

Both Heather and Alejandra are committed to doing the very best for each of our children. The children of Dorie’s Promise are their children too and like any good mother they want to give them the best opportunity for success. For Brayan, right now that means finishing his last year of high school and taking classes that will prepare him for his future career. He might be a chef or a photographer, time will tell. No matter what, we’re committed to launching him well into adulthood.

Our Thanks to You

November 21st, 2017 by

Our thanks to you!

Thank you donors, sponsors and volunteers.This might be our favorite story of the year, the one where we share how thankful we are for everyone who supports Forever Changed International and Dorie’s Promise!

First, we want to sincerely thank all of our monthly sponsors and donors. Without your support Forever Changed International would not exist. We rely on donations for everything we do. Our staff, our homes, schooling, medical care, everything depends on the willingness of our donors.

Your generosity allows us to create homes that give our children a safe place to heal. Earlier this year we welcomed children into our home after the government orphanage fire because you responded to their need immediately. These children are happier and healthier now in our home.

Thank you for believing in the work we do and allowing us to represent you as we serve our children.

Next, we want to thank our trip participants this year who made huge impacts in our local communities. Hundreds of you visited our home and helped our partner communities. We were able to build two homes, deliver food baskets, provide water filters, help with much-needed home repairs, and invest in organizations we believe in. We also understand that for every person who visits our home there are many more at home who have helped support them financially, materially, and spiritually. To all those who visited our home and those who supported our participants, thank you for partnering with us in Guatemala and making a difference this year.

All of our children benefit from the generosity of our supporters.Finally, we want to share our most heartfelt thanks to our staff and volunteers both in Guatemala and stateside. You are the heart of our organization.

To everyone who works in Guatemala, we are so thankful for your dedication every day on behalf of our children. Your love for our children is unprecedented and we could not care for our children without you. Thank you for loving our children as your own and giving them a home where they are can thrive.

To our stateside staff, board members, and volunteers, your efforts are rarely seen but always felt. Thank you for tirelessly working behind the scenes to keep our organization running and helping to guide us towards our dream of helping even more children in Guatemala.

This Thanksgiving holiday we are thankful for you and wish the best to you and your family!

Celebrating Myra’s Quinceañera

November 13th, 2017 by

Myra’s Quinceañera

By Kelly Shank –

We host a beautiful party for Myra’s Quinceañera.We love to celebrate the big moments in our children’s lives. Last month we had the chance to celebrate Myra’s 15th birthday with a traditional quinceañera.

Similar to a Sweet 16 party in the United States, a quinceañera celebrates a girl’s transition into womanhood. In Guatemala, these are important events, complete with fancy dresses, special meals, music, dancing, and lot of family and friends. Little girls dream of their quinceañera and we couldn’t imagine letting this special day pass by without celebrating Myra.

Creating an event as special as Myra took the work of everyone in our home. The day of the party our backyard was transformed by Abel and friends for the special event with decorations and balloons. The littler children helped prepare “fancy” place settings for the dinner party and assembled gift bags for guests. Come evening our home was filled with people who love Myra—our staff, their families, the children from our home, and Myra’s friends from school. Having so many people come and celebrate Myra was overwhelming.

Alej gives a special speech for Myra's QuinceañeraOur children had the chance to get dressed up for the night and share in the festivities. For our girls it was a chance to experience the fun of getting their hair done and dreaming of how they would like their own quinceañera to be when they are older.

Myra enjoyed a day of pampering thanks to our staff and friends. Watching her as she had her hair, makeup, and nails were done was like watching her grow up before our eyes. We could see how much she appreciated and enjoyed the whole day. The final piece for her dream was a beautiful blue gown. Her joy and thankfulness reminded us that all of our children just want to be loved and celebrated. That day it was Myra’s turn. Before heading down to her party Myra shared with our Director Alejandra that she felt “like a princess.”

We have the great pleasure of helping to usher our children into adulthood and we want to do so in a way that lets them know just how special they are as individuals.

Myra's first dance.As part of our celebration, we took time to thank God for Myra’s life and to ask his blessings on her future. One of the most special moments of the evening was the first dance when our Director’s husband shared the first dance with Myra. As we think about that evening, watching Alejandra’s husband share the first dance represents the heart of Dorie’s Promise. Even though Myra couldn’t celebrate this moment with her biological family our staff created an evening that showed her how much they love her and are willing to support her during both the happy and sad times of life. Our employees, and their families, have become her extended family.

A friend at the party shared these words, “To think back just 10 months ago we served Myra in the State Orphanage, then to see her enjoy a day like today is ONLY Jesus! Many, many tears were shed.”

Good News from Doc Castro

November 9th, 2017 by

Doc Castro and Children from Dorie's Promise

By Kelly Shank –

Doc Castro offers a comforting hug to a child.Recently we shared a behind-the-scenes story about our medical staff, Doc and Mirna. This week we’d like to share good news about a few of our children, as well as an update from Doc about our home.

According to Doc’s evaluations, approximately 30% of our children have a condition that requires specialized care beyond our norm, ranging from mild developmental delays and emotional health concerns to Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and Cerebral Palsy. Our holistic care model is helping us identify and meet the biological, psychological, social, and spiritual needs of each child.

Doc is excited to share that 2017 was a great year for our children. Aside from the chronic conditions some of our children endure, the general health of our home is excellent and we’re focusing on maintaining our children’s health to help them heal mentally.

Updates about Josue, Mario, and Lester

Josue is a very brave and resilient boy. Not many little boys would still be smiling after visiting the doctor as many times as he has. We’ve shared about his medical concerns before but this time we have good news. Although he suffers from congenital intestinal and urinary defects, his updated care plan and recent procedures have finally stabilized his condition. We are hoping this new treatment plan will help him avoid a more invasive surgery in the future.

As a child with autism Mario faces many challenges. This year was especially difficult as he transitioned to school. At the beginning of the year he struggled with paying attention, learning, and behaving in class. Thanks to our staff and his teachers Mario has made tremendous progress. His teachers made changes in his class to accommodate his needs and our Special Mothers are spending time in the evenings helping him keep up with him classwork. He was much more successful and happy at school once we found a better way for him to learn.

Both developmental delays and chronic respiratory issues have affected Lester his entire childhood. Several years ago we were able to enroll him in a school that better fit his learning style and this year he finally experienced relief for his health problems. He had surgery earlier this year that alleviated many of his respiratory issues and helped him avoid the frequent infections he previously experienced. He’s much happier and doing better at school because he’s healthier.

Looking forward to 2018

We are so lucky to have Doc Castro on our team.Building on this year’s success, in 2018 Doc will concentrate even more on improving the health of our children by teaching about healthy lifestyles, nutrition, and advanced care for our special needs children.

We are committed to maintaining the health of our children while also meeting the needs of new children we welcome into our home. It’s a delicate balance between protecting the health of those currently living in our home while also fulfilling our desire to help additional children. Plus, as more of our children approach adolescence we’re facing a different set of needs and concerns. We want to make sure our teenagers are healthy, both mentally and physically, as they approach adulthood.

Today we’re celebrating children who have seen great successes this year. If you would like to help us continue expanding our health care program so we can celebrate even more healthy kids please consider giving a one-time gift for Medical Care (please mention Medical Care in the comment when you give online) or becoming a monthly sponsor. Your help makes all the difference in the lives of our children.

The Importance of All Saint’s Day

October 31st, 2017 by

Colourful Mayan cemetery in Chichicastenango, Guatemala.

Photo By Ralf Steinberger. (CC BY 2.0)

By Kelly Shank –

Guatemala is known for its big, colorful celebrations. National holidays are packed full of fireworks, music, food, and big gatherings. Family is also very important within Latin American culture and is at the center of celebrations. All Saint’s Day incorporates the importance of family into a very special holiday celebration.

Guatemalan FiambreWhile those of us in the United States celebrate Halloween on October 31st, our Guatemalan friends focus on November 1st, the holiday known as All Saint’s Day. Based in long-standing tradition, All Saint’s Day is one of the most important holidays for Guatemalan families and serves as a way for families to recognize and honor their deceased relatives, an annual memorial day to their families. Although the day celebrates those who have died, it is not a day of sadness. Instead families truly celebrate the lives of their family members.

Unlike what we might expect in Northern America, on November 1st the cemeteries of Guatemala are transformed into elaborate festivals. Relatives spend hours creating brightly painted designs on tombs and fill the area with fresh flowers. The wonderful colors, fragrant smells, and marimba music offer the perfect backdrop for a day of celebrations.

Ladies prepare a special traditional meal called Fiambre, a large salad that incorporates the favorite foods of the families—vegetables, sausages, lunch meats, and cheeses, specifically for the occasion. Although each family’s version is passed down amongst generations, the meal itself is a tradition throughout the country. In the midst of the transformed cemeteries families gather to spend the day celebrating.

All Saints Days Kite

Photo by rpphotos. (CC BY-NC 2.0)

In places like Sumpango, families carry on the tradition of kite flying for All Saints Day. Tradition states that the kites were originally created to carry messages to the souls of dead family members in the sky. As the kites were released the notes would be carried away. The kite flying tradition continues today as families spend months designing and building the intricate structures. A mixture of art, tradition, and pride, each kite is uniquely designed using colored paper and then affixed on a bamboo frame. Ranging in size from 2 meters to more than 20 meters the kites each include messages for the community. Many share messages of love, peace, and unity while others also promote awareness of social issues. The artistry of these creations is beyond words.

On the morning of November 1st families begin to assemble their kites at the local cemetery. Although some smaller kites may be flown throughout the day, the full spectacle does not take place until evening. After honoring the dead and celebrating with family during the day, locals hoist the magnificent kites into the air at dusk. For a short period of time the sky is a colorful display of Guatemalan artistry.

Although the holiday occurs only once each year we see the love that Guatemalan families share every day when we work in communities. Every time our teams are welcomed into homes, offered meals, and prayed for, we experience a glimpse of being family.

School’s Out for Summer (in Guatemala)

October 25th, 2017 by

Dorie's Promise Director Alej, cheks in on children doing homework.

By Kelly Shank –

Let the fun begin and the homework end at Dorie’s Promise!

Nayeli Soto reading at her school El Shaddai.Summer vacation starts this week for most of our children and they are excited for later mornings and fun activities. Everyone at Dorie’s Promise is taking a much needed break this week. We had 30 children in 5 different schools this past year. That’s 30 lunches to pack each day, 30 children to get ready each morning, and a lot of time spent driving to drop-offs and pick-ups.

We’ll share more stories about the fun activities we have planned for them over the next few months but for now we want to brag about how great our children did in school.

Three of our boys graduated from Kindergarten. Elvis, Yire, and Abraham Najera spent the year working on their reading, writing, and math, when they weren’t running around playing soccer or tag. Our home had no shortage of colorful art projects either thanks to these boys. They are excited to join the bigger children in elementary school next January.

School is where Nayeli Soto shines. Ever since she was little Nayeli loved learning, even getting extra help on math from visitors when children others were outside playing. Her hard work paid off this year. She was recognized as one of the top students in her grade. We’re so proud of how hard she works in school.

Brayan took a cooking class at his vocational school.Our oldest child, Brayan, finishes school next month. His vocational school helped him discover skills that are both useful and enjoyable. Participating in the “Mini Chefs” program furthered his love of cooking and also gave him the opportunity to experience cooking in a restaurant environment. We were very proud to see his art work and sculpture included in an exhibition at the Rozas Botran Foundation as well.

Mario had the most difficulty transitioning to school. At the beginning of the school year he had trouble following directions, sharing with his classmates, and would cry because school was overwhelming. Working with both the Special Mothers and his school, he was able to move him into a different program that accommodates his challenges but still allows him learn. We’re grateful that he attends a school where he can learn, despite his challenges.

Second grade was tough for Juanita and Monica at the beginning of the year. Both girls struggled with reading and writing, making their classwork difficult. Thanks to the Special Mothers and our teacher the girls received extra help at home on these two subjects. As they became more comfortable reading and writing their self-confidence grew. By the end of the school year the girls became avid readers who now enjoy looking for new books to read on their own. Reading has unlocked their confidence and excitement for school.

Summerr break has started for the kids of Dorie's Promise.Some of the biggest successes we watched came from Myra, Cristina, and Manuel. These three came to our home after the fire at the Virgen de la Asuncion orphanage. We didn’t transition them into school until May but the success they experienced is phenomenal. Manuel and Cristina are learning to read and Myra is excited for the chance to attend school. Seeing how grateful they were for the opportunity to attend school reminds us just how important education is.

Education gives our children the ability to dream.

Thanks to the support of faithful donors, our children were able to achieve their goals in great schools. Early morning wake-up calls, packing 30 lunches each morning, and spending hours driving between schools is worth the effort as we watch our children thrive as individuals.

We’re committed to providing high quality, individualized education for our children again next year. If you would like to support the education of our children, please make a one-time education donation today or consider becoming a monthly sponsor.

6 Months After the Fire… Moving Forward On Faith

October 20th, 2017 by

The three children from Virgen de la Asuncion who now live at Dorie's Promise.

By Heather Radu –

Myra is now thriving at Dorie's PromiseSix months ago the news rang out across the world that an orphanage in Guatemala had burned to the ground and children had died. 

After the fire, our team immediately knew that we wanted to help in any way possible.  We did many things like send food, water, and blankets to help the children there in need.

The best thing our team did was accept several children into our home.

We didn’t really have the space or the budget to accept them but we took them anyway moving forward on faith knowing it was the right action to take.

Each child that came to us faced different challenges because of their individual background and the conditions that they had lived in previously.  The government orphanage was a large facility that housed hundreds of children and the caregivers weren’t able to give the level of individual care that we would expect in our home.  The ensuing investigation brought to light a history of abuse, mistreatment, and neglect resulting in several people being charged with various offenses related to the facility and fire.

Moving from those conditions to our home after such a traumatic event has been difficult for the children, but we are happy to share six months later, we are seeing great progress.

Cecilia, our staff psychologist, shared with me some of the growth that she has seen in these children.  I want to share that with you and ask for your continued help to take care of them.

Manuel and one of the Special Mother's enjoy a game of UNO at Dorie's Promise.Christina was scared, Myra was skeptical, Manuel needed extra care. It was not easy for them to learn to trust again, but because of the patient loving care of our staff the children have opened up. They are engaging with others, trusting again, and dreaming again.

We are so thankful for the opportunity to impact these children and help them thrive after experiencing such a great trauma and loss.

Now it is time to take the next step and get them enrolled in school!

Please stand with me and consider a special gift to help make sure that each and every one of our children receives the education they need to learn and mature.

The average cost of sending a child to a private school in Guatemala is $1,700 per year. That’s just about $142 a month — which covers everything they need; tuition, books, uniforms, after-school activities, tutoring, supplies, and transportation. We’d like to raise $25,500 before December 31. 

Give Today!

 

P.S. Thanks to you Myra, Manuel, and Christina are thriving.  Let’s help them take the next step in their care and make sure they get the best education we can give them in Guatemala City.

We’re Building a School in Paradise

October 18th, 2017 by

We’re Building a School in Paradise

Pictures provided by Muni Palencia on Facebook

By Kelly Shank –

At the heart of our missions program is the belief that we can make big impacts through long-term partnerships with communities. Last year we partnered with the municipality of Palencia to build an elementary school in Santa Elena. 

This year we have the opportunity to help build a new elementary school in el Paraiso (Paradise), another village within Palencia.

This year we have the opportunity to help build a new elementary schoolThe rural village of Paradise is located about an hour and a half outside of Guatemala City. For the last four years we have worked with the local community and families, regularly visiting with much needed food and school donations while also helping with home improvement projects. Now, we’re meeting an even greater need in the community.

The local middle school currently doubles as an elementary school by morning and middle school by afternoon. Our new school will expand both the number of children served and the types of services provided in this community, opening doors to new possibilities for these families.

By partnering with the municipality of Palencia and the community of Paradise we are combining our shared interests and resources to provide a meaningful opportunity for the children of Paradise. The municipality has provided land adjacent to the existing school for the building site and skilled construction labor for the project. Families from the local community work alongside municipality employees and as additional labor. Through designated donations, FCI is funding the material costs for the project. Each group offers a critical component in the success of the project.

Beginning with January’s first meeting to discuss the community’s needs, the people of Paradise have shown up to champion the construction of a new school. During our weekly visits to Paradise since the groundbreaking in July we have witnessed the impact this project is having on the community. Mothers come during the day when their children are in school to help. Fathers come in the evenings once they are finished at their jobs. They are giving their time to help make the new school a reality for their children.

During our weekly visits to Paradise since the groundbreaking in July we have witnessed the impact this project is having on the community. Along with local residents, several mission teams visited this summer and helped the workers reach a critical milestone. People of all ages, from kids to adults, wielded shovels and pickaxes to help the school become a reality. Sitting against a mountain, the site is rocky and each footer was dug by hand. We want to thank every person who has worked at the site of the new school. Your willingness to spend long days in the heat, doing hard work is appreciated by us and the community.

FCI’s partnership with Paradise and the municipality of Palencia is doing more than just building a school. By working together with the community we are proving our commitment to their future and inspiring local residents to seek opportunities to improve their lives. One local resident shared that “they [the team members] are coming from so far away to help us, giving us a good example of dedication and hard work, so we have to do the same for our own community.”

We are excited to work with local communities that are committed to bettering themselves.

We are happy to report that school construction is progressing well. With block work well underway the building is starting to take shape. Our goal is for construction to be substantially complete before school begins in January so the children of Paradise can begin the 2018 school year in their new building!

Behind the Scenes: Doc and Mirna

October 12th, 2017 by

Doctor Castro with children from Dorie's Promise Guatemala.

By Kelly Shank –

IMany children who live in our home have endured malnourishment, abandonment, and abuse.f you’re a parent you understand how scary it can be when your child is sick, that helpless feeling when you don’t know what is wrong or what to do. Now imagine multiplying those feelings by 40 children. Describing how important Dr. Castro “Doc” and Mirna, our nurse, are is almost impossible. They play a critical role in the care we give our children and help us maintain the overall health of our home so we can continue to accept new children.

If you have the chance to chat with Doc you will soon understand that his focus is on the total health of our kids, not just the physical. In his mind, the physical health of our children helps unlock the emotional and spiritual health of our kids too.

Many children who live in our home have endured malnourishment, abandonment, and abuse. He believes that physical health and the relief of physical ailments support the other therapies our children receive and help them recover. He helps them become physically strong so they can then focus on their emotional health.

Several very special children have called Dorie’s Promise home because of the daily care given by Doc and Mirna. Those who have been with us for many years will remember Alex. Although confined to a wheelchair and non-verbal he had an infectious smile and loved to be around people. Doc and Mirna made sure that Alex experienced life to the fullest. Josue, Efraim, and Lester are all also thriving in their own unique ways today thanks to Doc.

Thanks to the love and care given by Doc and Mirna we continue to welcome children with difficult medical conditions that other homes are not able to accommodate.

Learn more about Doc and Mirna.

Doc:

Doctor Castro in his office at Dorie's Promise,Doc really has been a lifesaver at Dorie’s Promise. Early in his tenure with us he was able to combat an outbreak that sickened many children by working around the clock to care for our children. In the years since he has established an outstanding medical care program for our children. Having dedicated his career to Pediatrics, he now focuses on caring for the most vulnerable children who do not have access to medical care. In additional to his work at Dorie’s Promise, he also provides medical care in several rural villages and is our coffee guy. If you meet him, he’ll be sure to tell you about his coffee, it’s the second best in the world!

Mirna:

Mirna assists Doctor CastroConsistency and compassion are two traits that help children thrive in our home. With her genuine love of our children, Mirna has embodied these traits over the last twelve years. Being one of nine children, and mother to three daughters herself, family is very important to Mirna. Her love for our children shines through every day as we greets everyone with a smile. Working in our home is more than just a job for her. Children come into our home with many fears and problems but slowly they begin to heal. Mirna is humbled to be doing the work for which God has equipped her and to have part in caring for vulnerable children. Outside of work you will find Mirna using her nursing skills to care for those in her community or spending time with her family.

We are so thankful for Doc and Mirna’s commitment to our children. You can help support our medical services by making a one-time donation towards medical care today (leave Medical Care in the comment field) or joining us as a monthly sponsor.