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Orphanage Fire in Guatemala – Our Response

March 9th, 2017 by

By Bradley Burck

You may have heard the horrible news coming out of Guatemala about a state run orphanage that caught on fire. We are trying to get all the details we can about what happened and how many perished in this tragedy.   The details about the incident are coming out slowly and seem to change daily.

The name of the orphanage was Virgen de Asuncion. This is the same orphanage that all our mission teams visit when they come to Guatemala. For those of you who have visited this home, you know that if feels more like a prison than the kind of home we run for orphaned children.

Our sources tell us that 34 are now confirmed dead. That number is expected to rise in the next few days.

Virgen de Asuncion was built to hold 400 people. We know that 640 children were living there at the time of the fire. The ages of those children ranged from 5 to 18 and included children who were abandoned early in childhood, troubled teens whose parents released them into the custody of the state for care and rehabilitation, special needs children, teenage mothers, and teens convicted of crime.

As you can imagine, reports of sexual abuse and overcrowing have been coming from Virgen de Asuncion for the last few years.

The night before the fire, there was rioting in the orphanage. More than 60 boys escaped the facility.

The escape of the boys caused the institution to go into lockdown. Our sources tell us that in response to the lockdown a few teenage girls set a mattress on fire thinking the fire would cause the officials to open the doors and let them out. That fire quickly got out of control and consumed that section of the building.

The office of Human Rights is now demanding the orphanage be closed and all the children living there be moved to other orphanages, returned to their parents, or put in a foster care situation.

Our immediate response to this tragedy is to work with the leadership of the orphanage to provide the supplies, blankets, food, and clothing they need to help their children until they are all moved to new locations.

We also contacted the government and let them know we have the ability to take in 8 new children between the ages of 5 and 8. This will put us well over our financial and space capacity. We currently have 38 of 40 beds occupied. Adding an additional 8 children is going to make life very interesting for the next several months.

If you would like to help the children who survived this fire, our team would like to encourage you to make a donation.

You can give to provide immediate resources to help all the orphans coming out of Virgen de Asuncion or to help Dorie’s Promise cover the costs of taking in an additional 8 children.

Please be praying for all the children of Virgen de Asuncion!

Last Chance to Give for 2016

December 30th, 2016 by

A BIg smile from one of the children at Dorie's Promise GuatemalaPlease consider a special gift to help us end 2016 strong. Your gift will help us make sure that we are able to send the children of Dorie’s Promise to the schools best fitted to their individual needs and learning abilities.

The average cost of sending a child to a private school in Guatemala is $142 a month, or $1,700 per year — which covers tuition, books, uniforms, after-school activities, tutoring, supplies, and transportation. Everything they need to be successful.

We invite you to help us give our children this exceptional education, a chance most orphaned children will never have, through your kind giving. Maybe you could give a gift of $1,000 or $500. Maybe that’s too much. Maybe you are better able to give a gift of $50 or $100. Please give today, before the year is out.

Thank you for making a real difference in the lives of our children!

Ana’s School Breakthrough!

December 12th, 2016 by

Ana is in the fourth grade.By Heather Radu –

A beaming Ana at her school, Shaddai.Last week I gave you updates on Nayeli and Brayan (if you missed it, read that post here.) I’d really like you to know about Ana too. Because of your help, we have been able to get Ana into a wonderful Christian school called Shaddai. She is in the fourth grade. When she came to us 7 years ago, she was behind in her schooling. We worked with her, of course, but always knew her math skills were lagging.

This year she’s had a breakthrough! Her teacher has been spending extra time with her on math. Ana has been getting regular tutoring on the subject … and you know what? She was recently selected to represent the school in a math competition!

She did well and proved to herself that it just takes extra effort to get ahead and do well in school. What a great life lesson!

Alej says that Ana is now talking about attending college and becoming a doctor someday!

Ana had a breakthrough in school this year.Stories like Ana’s, of lives that being changed at Dorie’s Promise, are an every day occurrence. They are stories of lives being changed because of you, your heart, and your giving.

We need to raise about $30,000 to secure schooling for our children before their school year begins in January. Please pray about it. Whatever God lays on your heart to contribute, I want to urge you to give it today.

When you give, I want to do something really special for you. I’ve been thinking about what would be nice to do that would connect you with the work of education. If you can send a gift of $100 or more, I want to send you one of our children’s report cards with a note from them saying thank you. My hope is you will keep it close by — on the fridge or in your office or in your Bible — somewhere it will remind you of the important work you are doing in Guatemala to help the orphans at Dorie’s Promise grow and thrive.

Let me hear from you soon. We are making plans for schooling for each of our children as you read this. Please Give Today.

It is Almost Time for School… (January Begins A New School Year in Guatemala)

December 12th, 2016 by

Maria is all packed up and ready for school!

By Heather Radu –

Take a moment to stop and remember what it was like to get ready for a new school year.

The new shoes, new clothes, maybe a new backpack or even pee-chee folders. It was all so exciting — like a new adventure was about to start.

Nayeli shortly before leaving to study in the USA.I want to give you an update on Nayeli. As you may know, Nayeli is on a student visa to the United States. She’s the oldest child in the home and has grown into a woman of God with a heart that is tender and kind. Her passion for learning is real, and because of that she’s now able to study in the United States. Please join me in praising God for this young woman. I’ve known her since she was 3. To watch her grow and thrive is a testament to the work we are doing at Dorie’s Promise Guatemala.

I also want to tell you about Brayan.

We have had Brayan in our care since 2009. When he was young, he was a fiery little guy — nearly impossible to control. Some of it was due to his independent spirit … some because of a slight learning disability.

Over the years, we have worked diligently with Brayan to help him achieve and overcome. One of the ways we have been able to do that is getting him into a special technical school. It has allowed him to explore and develop different skills that will help him in the work place as he matures.
His favorite class at school is music, and he is learning to play guitar. He also enjoys the cooking and computer classes. Alej says, “Every morning he is ready to go to school with a big smile — and the only reason for that is because he enjoys every day and is making good friends there.”

This is what it means to see a life Forever Changed!Brayan gets hands on experience at his technical school.

But Nayeli and Brayan are not the only children doing well.

As we look ahead, I want to ask you to help us continue to make sure our children get the best education possible. This is the key to building a better life, to breaking the cycle of poverty. I truly believe that the children who rise up from Dorie’s Promise will be leaders in this country someday — that they will speak truth to the problems that created the scenario in which they were left alone as children.

Please stand with me and consider a special gift to help them go to the schools that will best help them 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 tuition, books, uniforms, after-school activities, tutoring, supplies, and transportation.

I would like to invite you to help us give our children an exceptional educational experience through your kind giving. I don’t know what you could give. My role is to ask for the children, so I’m asking. Maybe you could give a gift of $1,000 or $500. Maybe that’s too much. Maybe you are better able to give a gift of $50 or $100. Give today.

I want you to know everything you do for our children helps and makes a real difference! Thank you!

Vision, Hopes, And Dreams…

December 5th, 2016 by

Education at Dorie's Promise is tailored to each child.

By Heather Radu –

Our staff has never been in a better place. For years, we have had to spend a lot of time working on the daily operations and staffing. We have had staff come and go … in my opinion, the mix of personalities and talent was just never exactly right to give our children and the home the kind of care and attention they needed.

Today all that has changed. This is the best I have seen our operations run in Guatemala since the day we started. These changes in our home have allowed me to be able to engage our team and talk and dream about the future.

Those are the hopes and dreams and ideas I want you to read about.

Dr. Castro continues to work with us and make sure our children get the best possible health care.Health Care

Dr. Castro continues to work with us and make sure our children get the best possible health care. I am completely confident in his abilities in this area and look forward to his partnership for many years to come. As you know, we decided a few years ago that the mental health of our children was also a priority. We have made significant investments in this area and will continue to do so. As the children get older, we are seeing an even greater need for this kind of therapy. We must continue to be focused on mental health issues so that our children can really grow and thrive.

Education

We are spending a lot of time and energy on finding the right schools for our children. Last week we had two 6th grade graduations — Jennifer and Ingrid finished elementary school. When I heard Ingrid received her diploma, what immediately came to mind was the little girl who came to our home seven years ago. She had never studied. She was afraid to even think about the idea. But today her world is totally different. She has dreams, she has goals to reach. I am confident there will be a day when we see her becoming a professional. Some of our children, like Ingrid and Jennifer, have the ability to go on to college. Others are going to need to be focused on a technical track. Our tutor is helping each of our children and identifying things they love, talking with them about their hopes and dreams. Join me in continuing to pray for them and their education. Our goal is to put them each on a path that amplifies their natural abilities and allows them to be successful.

Brayan, has been learning to play the guitar, and two weeks ago he had a performance at his school. Extracurricular

Giving children the opportunity to expand their horizons is huge. And extracurricular activities are the best way to do that. Brayan, for example, has been learning to play the guitar, and two weeks ago he had a performance at his school. He did so well! The audience loved his performance. His teacher complimented his natural talent. Giving our children exposure to activities like soccer, tennis, and martial arts teaches them discipline as well. It allows them to interact with adults outside the home and learn respect. It also teaches them hobbies that are popular in Guatemalan culture — ones they will probably use with their own children and grandchildren.

English

One of the best things we can do for our children is to teach them English. This is one of the key factors for being financially successful in Guatemala. Our children are always exposed to English with our mission trip guests. Ana is our star right now. She has been taking some English courses at school. Paul, a volunteer who teaches English, is coming to Dorie’s twice per week and is surprised at the interest and capacity that Ana is showing to learn English. We want to give all our children the opportunity to speak English, learn it, know it, and internalize it. Our team believes this is possible for all our children.

International Exposure

Nayeli is a first example of giving one of our children international exposure. She is currently studying in the United States, and we are learning more and more about how to do it in the future. Our children, from their earliest ages, get a chance to interact with Americans and Canadians. Being able to send them out of Guatemala and give them a bigger picture of the world is very important to our team.

Ana is our star English student/Our Board believes, and I hope you do, too, that by helping our children in these ways, we will be opening up a world of opportunities to them.

These are the hopes and dreams of our staff in Guatemala City. These are things we can do together, and what I believe God is calling us to do. 

Your generosity will be used to help all our children grow and thrive and become the people God created them to be.

If you’re like me, you see each one of them as more than just an orphaned child. You see their value and their purpose. Thank you for being part of their lives!

This December, please help us with a special gift for the children. Before the years out, we need to raise around $30,000. In order to raise that amount, it is going to take all of us— you, me, everyone we know. Please share this update with your friends. Spread it on social media, email it to your church mission committee,  print and give it to your grandmother— get the word out.

Help us reach this year-end goal!

Help Us Keep A Good Thing Going…

November 28th, 2016 by

Yohana, one of the children at Dorie's Promise, is all smiles because of the care she recieves at our home.

By Heather Radu –

As we come to the Christmas season, I want to give you a vision for where we are headed together concerning the care of our children at Dorie’s Promise in Guatemala.

Things have been slowly changing at our homes in Guatemala City for a few years now. You may have noticed. We are getting better at what we do!

Good change is happening among the children, our leadership team, and the special mothers.Good change is happening among the children, our leadership team, and the special mothers.

I am excited to say we are starting to function like an organized family!

Of course, every family still sees all kinds of unexpected things, making organization and “easy living” virtually impossible. If you’ve ever been charged with the care of a couple of kids, you know exactly what I mean.

There are sicknesses that start and then spread to everyone in the family. There are unexpected birthday parties at the homes of friends. There are always tests at school the kids forget to tell you about. But even with all of that, I’m thrilled to see things improve at Dorie’s Promise.

I want to share some of that with you (stay tuned for our next blog post to learn more.) Rejoice with me and dream with me this season. God has a plan for our little ones!

We are going into a new phase of life. To adapt and do this, our team really needs your help.

As I write this, all I can think about is how grateful I am for you! Without your help, our children would be in terrible places. I can’t bear to even think about them being anywhere else. This is where God wants them right now. Thank you for being part of His plan for them.

Help Us Keep A Good Thing Going... God has a plan for our little ones!This is why I know I can ask you to consider a special gift today.

December is a great time of the year to give. Since we are quickly approaching Christmas, please consider setting aside a special gift to help the Children of Dorie’s Promise. Before the end of the year, we really need to see $30,000 come in. And in order to raise that amount, it is going to take all of our friends — you, me, everyone we know — giving, and asking people we know to give.

Pray about doing something special to help us care for these precious children. I don’t know what you could give … that’s between you and God.

I just ask that you do something special. Help us reach this year-end goal! When you give, I know you will be blessed.

Why The Winter Months Are A Good Time To Visit Dorie’s Promise

September 15th, 2016 by

A Mission group at Dorie's Promise

By MJ Zelya –

The children of Dorie's Promise Guatemala can't wait to meet you!When it’s winter in America, it’s the best time to visit Guatemala!

Going to visit the children of Dorie’s Promise — and help the surrounding communities in need while there — is the perfect choice if you are planning to travel and don’t yet know where to go during the colder months.

The weather is perfect because the rainy season has stopped, and the children enjoy playing outside and going on walks around the neighborhood.

Dorie’s Promise boasts plenty of reasons for you to say good-bye to your routine and do something different — something that will make an eternal impact on others.

You are not only sharing with the children, you are creating a bond with them; it will truly be an eye-opening experience, one that will change you from the inside out!

When you arrive in Guatemala, the first thing you will notice is the mixture of people and cultures. Guatemala is well-known for its diversity, but you’ll immediately realize that the people are warm and friendly — you will feel at home.Imagine it … loving children who don’t have parents, helping families that have nothing, bringing water and food to people who need it.

Throughout your time at Dorie’s Promise, you will find children hugging you and wanting to be your friend — taking you by the hand and asking to play with them.

But your impact is not only on the children’s lives, but also on the communities, where many people, in desperate need, are grateful for the help and time friends like you invest.

Alejandra our home director says:

In summer, our children are busy in school, a season when it’s difficult to have enough time to share with them. But it’s different in winter! They are on vacation, out of school, and there is plenty of time to have fun, do different activities, and plan special outings during the week.When you serve at Dorie's Promise you'll be working with some of the most impoverished people on the planet.

Through outreaches in our missions program you can make a real difference. The many children and families we serve throughout Guatemala eagerly wait for Forever Changed International to bring teams of people to share Christ’s love with them as well as provide them with what we would consider basic living essentials. Soap and a pair of shoes can brighten the eyes of a 5-year-old boy more than you can imagine.

We run trips all year long so come anytime.  We would love to have you join us for a week very soon! Apply Today!

New Opportunities: Brayan’s Education

September 8th, 2016 by

Brayan learning to cook in his vocational school.

By MJ Zelya-

Pablo our Missions Director with BrayanBrayan is attending a new school, a training/vocational school, to help him develop in other capacities and areas. It will provide him the tools he needs for his future.

He loves both gastronomy and music. He does well at French cooking, and he loves to play the guitar. Someone donated a guitar for him to practice at home, so he is always playing and singing.

He is also playing on a soccer team on Saturdays. They have played in several championships — winning first place in one and fifth place in the other. He was so excited when they won the trophy. His trainer says Brayan has the potential to be a great soccer player.

His teachers say:

He has great culinary ability, is dedicated to the craft, and finishes what he starts. His leadership qualities help him in workshops and as part of a team. Sometimes he gets upset if he has to correct something that was done wrong.

Someone donated a guitar for him to practice at home, so he is always playing and singing.In regard to art and sculpture, he has developed artistic skills and can perfectly mix all the colors he uses when he’s drawing and making models.

In his dance classes, he is enthusiastic and loves the Latin rhythms. He is always positive, getting more coordinated, and creating new steps and giving suggestions.

In computer class, he is a genius — one of the best in the classroom.

He is a strong student, polite, loving, and responsible.

We are so proud of Brayan’s achievements in and out of school! He is a boy with great potential who is not only developing skills for his future, but also preparing to be a good citizen of his country. If you’d like to help us continue to provide educational and growth opportunities for children like Brayan consider a special gift for education. Every year it takes nearly $55,000 to continue to ensure our children receive the EXCEPTIONAL EDUCATION they need. We want to make sure that every child living at our home gets education that is tailored to their needs. You can help make that happen: GIVE TODAY!

Mission Trip to Dorie’s Promise: I Will Never Be The Same!

September 2nd, 2016 by

Guatemala - By Sarah GillSarah GillGoing on a missions trip is life changing event. We often hear about the excitement and passion that a trip to Dorie’s Promise builds into the lives of those who visit. Below is an interview with Sarah Gill about her recent visit to Dorie’s Promise.

Where did you hear about Forever Changed International (FCI)?

I heard about FCI through my employer Lisa Le of Lovely Homes Realty. She had just gotten back from an event where she had met Heather, and asked if I wanted to go to Guatemala. My heart has always been for mission work, so I said yes.

What made you want to take a mission trip with us?

It had been six years since my last missions tip, and I was eager to go on another trip. I’ve always felt like my life was suppose to be about helping people, and this seemed like a good way to do so.

What was it like to travel to Guatemala?

Exhilarating. Even on he plane I could not contain my excitement to land. Traveling throughout the communities as the week progressed was a real wake-up call. I had never seen anything like Guatemala before! My favorite thing about traveling to Guatemala was the kindness of the people, and the generosity of the culture.

What was your impression of the Dorie’s Promise?

It felt like I had found home. Aside from the very comfortable accommodations, it felt like a place that was full of warmth and kindness. There was so much love there!

What was your biggest take-away from the trip?

That there is much work to do in this world, and it can all get done if people are willing to lovingly give what they have.

One of the children living at Dorie's Promise, photo by Sarah Gill.Why do you think people should support Dorie Promise or sponsor one of our children?

There’s a quote from Schindler’s List that echoed through my heart during the week that I stayed at Dorie’s: “He who saves a life, saves the world entire.” If every person who’s able did what they could to help the forgotten children of Guatemala, they wouldn’t be forgotten. $35 dollars isn’t too much. FCI does so much for the children and the community with what they are given, imagine what they could do with more!

My trip to Dorie’s was so amazing, and it impacted me greatly. It made me realize that I don’t have to have my life in perfect order to help people, I just have to be willing.

Because of my trip, I have been inspired to take my own team to Dorie’s next year. My hopes are also high for seeing what else I can do to help the children of Guatemala, as well as others who have been forgotten around the world.

I am so thankful for my experience with FCI. I will never be the same!

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Would you like to share your Dorie’s Promise Mission Trip experience on our blog? Email Us.

If you’d like to experience a missions trip like Sarah’s click here to watch our video and request more info.

Update On Extracurricular Activities: Karate, Ballet and More!

August 31st, 2016 by

THe CHildren of Dorie's Promise with their Karate Instructor

By MJ Zelya –

The children of Dorie's Promise in Ballet class.As a part of our child development sphere of care, the children at Dorie’s Promise participate in different extracurricular activities — things like karate, ballet, or tennis classes.

And we have even such improvement! They share and communicate better with each other, and their self-esteem has flourished.

In fact, one important facet of a child’s participation in extracurricular activities is the link to higher academic achievement, fewer behavior problems, and higher rates of success in adulthood.

For example, involvement in sports:

  1. Teaches children the concepts of discipline, effort, and teamwork.
  2. Creates healthy habits for life.
  3. Helps with hyperactivity in some children and can affect their school performance by increasing their concentration and improving their mood.The Karate Instructor visiting Dorie's Promise.
  4. Allows them to be better organized outside of school.
  5. Strengthens motor coordination and improves reflexes, providing greater strength and agility.
  6. Can be essential in the process of socialization, meaning an easy way to make new friends, improve relationships, and help them be more tolerant and accepting of different viewpoints.
  7. And it not only uses energy — but it lets them have fun!

One karate teacher explains some of his experience:
“When I started karate classes with the children of Dorie’s Promise, it was a bit difficult because I was used to starting a karate class with discipline and order. I understood that while children of Dorie’s Promise need to know the philosophy of karate on issues such as self-control, discipline, and respect, they also needed a class that was entertaining for them. Combining discipline with a game, always reminding them of the concepts of control and respect, I have seen remarkable changes — especially in Hans and Lester. They both have better coordination and control of their space. They have also improved in the areas of self-control. On one occasion, I asked Hans the meaning of control. He thought for a moment and replied that it meant ‘do not act crazy.’ I found that a very good response and remember them (in his words) at appropriate times.The children enjoy their Karate classes.

“In most children I have also noticed an improvement in their self-esteem. At first, Abraham Cabrera, Luis, and Jose Antonio did not like to demonstrate an exercise or a technique, but now they are the first to raise their hands to be an example.

“In all children I have observed, as is normal, increased strength, flexibility, and the ability to pay attention. We always play a game that I call ‘Sensei says’ — with the same rules as ‘Simon says’ — which includes karate techniques, and it has improved their attention and reaction time.”

The ballet teacher says:

The girls enjoy the opportunity to take ballet classes.“There has been a big change in their behavior, in discipline, in following instructions, and improvement in technique; their flexibility and ability are great; teamwork is something they have learned well instead working solo.”

Thanks to the support of friends like you, the precious children of Dorie’s Promise have a brand-new future awaiting them. No longer are they “orphans,” forgotten and alone, but rather part of a growing, thriving, loving family dedicated to providing them opportunities for success — physically, emotionally, and spiritually.

If you or someone you know wants to forever change a child’s life, become a sponsor now — simply click here to do so. Thank you for being part of lifelong transformation, one child at a time!