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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.


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 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.

Being Family for Orphans Remaining in Guatemala

October 2nd, 2017 by

Being Family for Orphans Remaining in Guatemala

By Kelly Shank –

Mission team members with staff and children at Dorie's Promise Guatemala.Interestingly, when you have the chance to sit on our couch holding the most beautiful baby or run through the grass and listen to kids laugh as you chase them, there’s something that happens deep inside your soul. You start to see our kids as your own. They aren’t just another orphan. You know their names, what they like to do, and maybe a little bit about their story.

Visiting our home changes people and one of the most frequent questions we get is if our kids can be adopted. The short answer is yes, but only by Guatemalan families.

Believe me, we understand the desire to scoop up our kids and bring them home where we can love on them every day. Each of us at Forever Changed International can tell our own stories about the children we have bonded with and our struggle with the reality that we cannot bring them home with us. This is my story.

Kelly and Alejandra:

Alejandra in 2015 before being adopted by a Guatemalan family.Probably because I had a 1 year old at home, I was drawn to the babies’ house during my first visit in 2011. Imagine 8 highchairs lined up along the living room wall and cribs filling the bedrooms. The dining room was a playroom at the time and someone always needed attention. In the midst of the toddlers was a little girl named Alejandra. She was the rambunctious one, always testing the limits and instigating trouble. Needless to say, we bonded quickly.

Even more so, Alejandra bonded with my husband. When he joined me the following year, the two became inseparable. The first hug my husband received would always be from Alejandra. When she spotted him, all things stopped, and she would run to give him a hug. The man who openly admits that he’s “not really into little kids” would scoop her up like one of his own. With her, our family felt complete. Even the Special Mothers noticed how much she loved my husband and their special bond.

By coincidence my husband and I were working at Dorie’s Promise on Alejandra’s fifth birthday. It was her birthday but the gift was ours as we sang and ate cake. Returning just a few months later I also witnessed Alejandra’s adoption story. On a sunny Sunday afternoon I met the lady who is now Alejandra’s adoptive mother and her biological brother who had been previously adopted. The following Friday morning I had the privilege of saying goodbye to the little girl I wanted to make my daughter as she left with her forever family.

God’s plan for Alejandra was not to take her away from Guatemala. Her story did not include having me as her mother. Instead, she was going to find her brother and a Guatemalan family who would love her. As I look back on the time we spent with Alejandra and the opportunities that God gave us to share in her life I understand that He was showing me how be a family to the orphaned children who will remain in Guatemala.

A special mother reads to children at Dorie's Promise.When Heather Radu started working in Guatemala our primary focus was facilitating adoptions with American families. More than 400 children found forever families through our efforts until international adoptions were halted in 2008.

The transition away from international adoptions gave us the opportunity to refocus how we serve the children in our home and the people of Guatemala. Although we pray each of our children will find a loving family, for many kids we become their family as they grow up in our home.

Just as you do for your children, we give each child opportunities that meet their unique gifts and needs. Some will attend trade schools or universities while others may be in our care long-term due to medical needs. Seeing them succeed is our goal.

In May 2016 the Guatemalan government announced that their priority is to develop a successful domestic adoption program within their country before they will consider reestablishing an international adoption program. Although some people may be disappointed by this decision, we see it as an opportunity for us to do important work.

We want to raise a generation of leaders who will bring about justice and change in Guatemala. We truly believe that the children currently living in our home have the ability to become successful teachers, lawyers, doctors, business owners, and so much more in Guatemala. By instilling faith, integrity, and intellect into our children as they mature we envision leaders coming of age who are able to impact change for all the people of Guatemala, especially children and families with backgrounds similar to their own.

Our children have the opportunity to break the cycle of poverty one child at a time through education, opportunity, and love!

What We Did This Summer: In Our Communities

September 25th, 2017 by

A Mission's Team Helping in one of the neighboring communities.By Kelly Shank –

Helping communities, especially struggling families is the mission of our community projects.The children of Dorie’s Promise are our highest priority. Through adoption, safe reunification, and community empowerment we’d love to see the number of vulnerable children in Guatemala decrease. Helping communities, especially struggling families is the mission of our community projects. As our mission program has grown we’ve worked hard to become better so that we’re making a positive difference in every community where we work. We’ve learned what helps and how to promote self-reliance and dignity within communities.

One of the biggest differences for us this year has been the addition of a new position, dedicated strictly to managing our community projects and helping us make the best impact with our time, money, and talents. Those who visited Dorie’s Promise this summer had the chance to meet Bertha, our new Community Development Director. She brought together all of the community relationships and the experience of our staff to start building a vision for long-term involvement in communities.

Thanks to the help of our generous trip participants this year, we were able to provide families with these gifts:

  • 213 Water Filters
  • 180 Food Baskets
  • 48 Bunkbeds
  • 17 Pilas
  • 16 Concrete Floors
  • 3 Concrete Stoves
  • 2 Home Repairs
  • 1 Metal House
  • 1 Prefabricated House

Community members work with our teams on projects.Numbers help you understand how much we did but they don’t convey the impact we made in the lives of these families.

When we give water filters to families not only do they have clean drinking water in their homes but they also save money otherwise spent on buying water. What if that money could buy food or school supplies? During one visit this summer we were able to surprise a single mother with a food basket. She was completely overwhelmed by our gift. Although she works hard there are times that she struggles just to buy food for her family. Our gift came at a time when she desperately needed help.

We are finally finding our identity as a missions organization. Our experience providing high quality care in our orphan home has taught us a very valuable lesson that we are using to define our community projects.

We are going to do the highest quality projects we are capable of doing with the money, time, and abilities that God provides while empowering local communities and extending dignity to those we serve. This principle is guiding us towards the types of projects we will do in the future and who we work with.

As she reflected on her first summer with us, Bertha shared tA new home, built by a missions team with Dorie's Promise.wo experiences that highlight her vision for communities:

The Cil Hernandez family received a new house this summer during the Clyne family’s visit. Receiving a new house was about more than just a building to their family. After losing their home to a fire, the family was desperate to provide even the bare necessities for their children. The family explained to our team that receiving a home and bunkbeds renewed their hope. They didn’t expect help and our overwhelming gift gave them hope for their future.

Later in the summer, the Perez Albizures family also received a new home. This single mother and her daughters are committed to their community, giving their time to help work on the new school being built near their home. Bertha was inspired by the team’s dedication to building the best home they could for this family. Even during a rain storm, the team and family worked together to ensure the project would be completed before the end of the week. Seeing the excitement as the little girls danced in their new home helped us all understand that by working with the community we give people the opportunity to help themselves and improve their lives.

Our work in these communities is about more than meeting material needs. We intend to form long-term relationships that strengthen families and show the most marginalized and vulnerable people that they are loved, they are worthy, and they are able to live fulfilling lives.

Road to Recovery: 6 Months after the Virgen de la Asuncion Fire

September 19th, 2017 by

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

By Kelly Shank –

When news broke about the horrific Guatemalan orphanage fire earlier this year our hearts sank. The fire at Hogar Seguro Virgen de la Asuncion orphanage in San Jose Pinula, outside Guatemala City, on March 8, 2017 impacted the lives of everyone who cares for children in Guatemala.

Although a government-run facility, Virgen de la Asuncion was deeply connected to Forever Changed International. For more than 6 years our mission teams visited each week and fostered deep connections with many of the children who lived there. Many returning trip participants knew the names of the children there just like at Dorie’s Promise. You could always count on David to give you a hug, Iris loved to dance with teams, and the Princesas enjoyed making jewelry. Despite where they lived, these children were just like our own. After the fire, we immediately knew that we wanted to help in any way possible.

In the weeks following the fire, we accepted several children into our home. During their transition each of them 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 that six months later, we are seeing great progress. Cecilia, our staff psychologist, is excited to share the growth that she has seen in these children.

Cristina:Cristina six months after the fire.

Christina was very scared when she first came to our home. After leaving her mother and living in the government orphanage she didn’t have the ability to trust anyone. Instead, she clung tightly to her few belongings and built a wall of protection around herself. She didn’t want to be hurt or disappointed anymore. Our staff was determined to show Cristina how they loved her, despite her rejection. Slowly, after they repeatedly loved her, showed up for her, and did what they promised day after day, Cristina began to change.

She’s now learning how to have healthy relationships with our staff and the other children. The girl who didn’t even want her clothes washed because she was afraid they’d be stolen now creates gifts for her Special Mothers and enjoys playing Uno and checkers with the other kids. Hearing her say “I love you” to the Special Mothers makes our job a success.

Manuel:Manuel six months after the fire.

Manuel came to Dorie’s Promise because he has several medical conditions that require specialized care other orphanages couldn’t provide. Luckily, Doc and Mirna have experience handling difficult medical conditions. Like many little boys, Manuel is quite active. Adapting to our home, our daily schedules, and our expectations was hard because his previous life wasn’t structured in the same way as Dorie’s Promise. Managing impulse control when he was upset or frustrated was one of the biggest challenges during the transition.

Cecilia is very proud of the changes she’s seen in Manuel. He is a different little boy. His self-esteem is higher, he’s respectful, and he has learned how to be caring towards the other children. Instead of acting out, he’s now using his curiosity to learn new things and enjoy being a kid.

Myra:Myra six months after the fire.

Myra was the first child we received after the fire. For a while after she came, she was very skeptical about living in our home and worried constantly about how long she would be with us and if she would have to return to the government orphanage. Instead of trying to transition she chose to be self-reliant so she didn’t make any connections that would have to be broken.

We are so proud of her. She is resilient and we have finally been able to gain her trust. As the months have passed and she experienced our love, she’s started to engage with our staff and the other children. Most importantly, she’s started to dream again. Myra wants to become a lawyer so that she can help children like herself. From what we’ve seen so far, we think she will do great things in the future.


We are so thankful for the opportunity to impact these children and help them thrive after experiencing such a great loss. Please continue to pray for all of the children affected by the fire and the officials who are responsible for creating a system to care for the forgotten children of Guatemala.

Celebrating Independence in Guatemala

September 11th, 2017 by

Dorie's Promise children in Traditional Mayan outfits.

By Kelly Shank –

Children at Dorie's Promise celebrating Guatemalan Independence.Independence Day. What comes to mind when you hear those words? Fireworks. Parades. National Pride. Every summer we pause as a nation to celebrate the day our founding fathers declared their independence from England. In September, the people of Guatemala will do the same.

Much like our own independence celebrations, on September 15th Guatemalans take to the streets to celebrate their independence from Spanish rule.

With vigor and pride that rivals any July 4th celebration, towns become a sea of blue and white while the people of Guatemala overflow with national pride, celebrating a history that is both triumphant and fragile. Bringing together both indigenous Mayans and those of Spanish decent, Independence Day highlights bright traditional Mayan garments as performers showcase traditional dances and more modern traditions that bring a contemporary flair to the celebration.

Cities are filled with music as parades of marching bands and school groups weave their way down streets. Performing in these parades is an honor and young musicians will practice extravagant routines and complicated musical pieces for months in advance. The heavy sounds of percussion instruments mixed with the whimsical tones of the traditional marimba pieces are the perfect blend of Guatemalan culture.

Independence, peace, and national pride are prized within Guatemala but they did not come easily. September 15th celebrates victory over the struggle and turmoil that plagued Guatemala for many centuries. Originally inhabited by indigenous Mayans, Spain’s first conquest into Guatemala occurred in 1511 and by 1523 the area was officially a Spanish colony. For nearly 300 years Spain controlled the majority of Central America until on September 15, 1821 Guatemala, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, El Salvador, and Honduras declared their independence. All five nations continue to celebrate their joint independence and unique cultures with the “Antorcha de la Indepencia” relay each year. The 350 km relay commemorates the efforts of Maria Delores Bedoya who ran through the streets of Guatemala on September 14, 1821 carrying a lantern to bolster support amongst the people for independence and inject hope for their future.

A Guatemalan Independence day paradeIndependence has not been without hardship for Guatemalans. Throughout its history various governments created an environment that was difficult for the people of the country, especially those in rural areas. Their rich agricultural regions were exploited by large foreign companies and governments for much of the twentieth century, eventually leading to a devastating civil war that waged from 1960 to 1996. The Monument of Peace is located in the National Palace as a lasting reminder of the country’s struggle for peace and hope for a unified future. Together the nation is moving forward to create a government for everyone.

We are proud to be a small part of this movement as we raise the next generation of Guatemalan leaders.

The long struggle for independence created a fierce patriotism within Guatemala. As they celebrate Independence Day this week, Guatemalans will remember their history, honor their traditions, and look forward to greater progress with hope for the future. We wish our staff and children a wonderful Independence Day complete with fun, music, parades, and of course, fireworks.

Behind the Scenes At Dorie’s Promise: Meet the Staff

September 5th, 2017 by

Behind the Scenes At Dorie’s Promise: Meet the Staff

By Kelly Shank –

Dorie's Promise Office StaffSafety in our home, comfort from our staff, careful attention to medical and psychological needs, and fierce passion for justice are the foundations of what our children experience when they enter Dorie’s Promise. These are the ideals we strive for but without staff who share our vision we could never provide the high quality care found in our home. We rely on a large network of employees and volunteers to make our home run—everyone from the Special Mothers, cooks, maintenance workers, and office staff in Guatemala to our stateside staff and volunteers who manage our mission teams, finances, and website. A very large village raises our children.

In honor of Labor Day, we want to highlight our Guatemalan office staff.

Although these ladies are rarely seen by trip participants they play a vital role in the lives of our children. This tightly knit group is the force that quietly manages our home. They welcome new children, guard our children’s stories, fight for their rights in court, manage their care, and keep our home running daily. Everything involving our children happens because these women have dedicated themselves to Dorie’s Promise. Combined, their individual talents create a team whose focus is maintaining a home that best meets the needs of each child.

Dorie's Promise Director, Alejandra DiazAlejandra Diaz, Director:

Alejandra is the heart of Dorie’s Promise. The love of God and family that she was taught by her parents has guided her career and how she manages our home. The children of Dorie’s Promise have made a profound impact on Alejandra. One of her favorite memories is of accompanying a young girl to her court hearing. The girl was shaking and afraid but when Alejandra reached down to hug her the girl hugged back tightly. In that moment she realized just how important the staff is and the opportunity they have to change the life of each child who enters our home.

Jessica Godoy, Legal Assistant:

Many trip participants will remember Jessica as the bubbly Team Leader who helped organize all of the fun activities with the children at Dorie’s Promise. Like her mother, Jessica was trained as a teacher and she enjoys interacting with our children. After completing her law degree, Jessica became our Legal Assistant and now dedicates her skills to defending the rights of the children in our care. Her passion is our children.

Cecilia Orozco, Psychologist:

Cecilia combines her professional training as an adolescent psychologist and special needs teacher with her genuine passion for our children. She loves to work with each child to find the one word, hug, or smile that makes a difference in their life and brings them joy. She loves working with our team to help our children create goals for their future. Cecilia’s work helps to guide the emotional recovery of our children.

Sigrid Soberanis, Administrative Assistant:

One of the first people that children meet when they come to Dorie’s Promise is Sigrid. Her love of our children is evident every day as she spends time with them. Thanks to her love of organization, she helps keep our office running well, helping everyone else be even more successful. She makes all of our visitors feel welcome and is even trilingual. She would like to see Dorie’s Promise grow so that she can welcome even more children.

Miriam Ajcu, Human Resources:

The children at Dorie’s Promise are Miriam’s favorite part of her job. During Miriam’s first year working in our home she bonded with a baby girl named Valentina. Miriam sees her time with Valentina as a gift because she was able to help care for her until a Guatemalan family adopted her. She hopes that more people will learn about the important work that is being done at Dorie’s Promise. Miriam works with our staff to create a world class team dedicated to our children.

We would like to thank these ladies for their dedication to the mission of Forever Changed International and our children!

What Nayeli Teaches Us about Success

August 29th, 2017 by

Nayeli (or Nalleli) and Dorie's Promise director Alej.

By Kelly Shank –

Nayeli’s made the transition to the US, found a great group of friends, and is doing well.Last year we reached a milestone at Dorie’s Promise. Our oldest child, Nayeli, completed her schooling in Guatemala and transferred to a private school in the United States.

Watching her over the last year has been exciting. She’s made the transition to the US, found a great group of friends, and is doing well.

After only one semester at her new school she was able to transfer to a local community college to begin her college career full-time. Nayeli’s college success comes as no surprise to those who know her well. She is one of the brightest, most determined young women we have ever met. While living in our home she was a natural leader to the younger children, a diligent student, someone the staff could rely on, and a valuable resource for visiting teams.

What we hadn’t realized until recently is that the success of Dorie’s Promise will really be measured by our ability to raise children who can live what we would consider regular lives and become fully themselves.

Nayeli taught us, without even knowing it, what lies in the heart of our children—the desire for us to see them as individuals, not focusing only on their story. Like each of us, our children carry a personal story that has shaped them and we work diligently to help them heal from their past hurts. Nayeli has transcended her story and become a confident young woman who owns her future. Our ultimate goal is to allow our children to become the best version of themselves.

We’ve succeeded in raising a young woman who feels confident in her abilities and is taking this opportunity to become herself.Nayeli’s story is successful because she is pursuing her college degree in a field that interests her. She is creating a life filled with family and friends, just like each of us. She persevered through her first semester, adapted to life in the US, and became more comfortable with speaking English full-time. Listening to her tell about how much she enjoys the variety of classes she’s taking is refreshing. Even her uncertainty when asked about what she wants to do after college is encouraging.

We’ve succeeded in raising a young woman who feels confident in her abilities and is taking this opportunity to become herself.

The future of Dorie’s Promise is already impacted by Nayeli’s success as she anticipates returning to Guatemala to mentor our older children as they prepare to graduate and move into the next phase of their lives. Her experience gives them an example of the opportunities available when they face their fears and chase after their goals.

We’re grateful that Nayeli has been so influential to everything we do at Dorie’s Promise and can’t wait to see what her future holds!

Maintaining Your Post Trip Impact

August 22nd, 2017 by

ost of our trip participants leave with a desire to share their experience with everyone they meet. But how can you put into words a life changing experience?

By Kelly Shank –

Mission Trips to Dorie's Promise are life changing!Thousands of people have visited Dorie’s Promise as part of our missions teams and many thousands more have been impacted by their stories after they returned home.

Visiting our home and experiencing Guatemala firsthand is certainly one of the most impactful ways to learn about Forever Changed International but don’t underestimate the impact you can have when you return home. People will see the impact of your trip and you don’t want to miss out on opportunities to educate others about how you were changed and the important work we’re doing in Guatemala.

The sights and experiences of Guatemala are eye-opening and energizing. Most of our trip participants leave with a desire to share their experience with everyone they meet. But how can you put into words a life changing experience? Before you begin overloading all those around you it’s important that you take time to do two important things: 1) Debrief and Process and 2) Refine your story.

Debrief and Process

Much like our nightly debriefs at Dorie’s Promise, processing your experience and return home will be essential as you begin to incorporate your Guatemala experiences into your normal life. The new memories, emotions, experiences, and perspective can be overwhelming because what you saw in Guatemala changes how you think about the life you return to. Find a friend or family member who is willing to listen to your stories, help you process what you experienced, and sort out how it impacts your life going forward. Don’t rush this very important process.

Refine Your Story

The children of Dorie's Promise can't wait to meet you.Your story is personal and although all of the intricate details are important parts of your experience, what you share will be determined by your audience. After you return home you will inevitably encounter people with a wide range of interest levels about your trip, ranging from polite acknowledgment to wholehearted interest. Your job as our ambassador is to tailor your story to best meet their needs. Combine your most impactful moments with their areas of interest to find authentic connection.

The secret of Dorie’s Promise is finding our people, those who truly understand what we do and are committed to helping us impact Guatemala. You are key to helping us identify and expand our tribe.

As you return to your normal routines we hope that you will incorporate us into your daily life. Here’s some easy ways to be an everyday ambassador for Forever Changed International and Dorie’s Promise:

  1. Share our stories on your social media. When one of these stories touches you—share it. Add your personal thoughts to help people connect even more. (Find us on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram!)
  2. Incorporate us into your daily life—pray for our children, the staff, and our ministry; wear your FCI shirt proudly as you go about your busy day; display pictures from your trip to remind yourself of your experience and prompt others to inquire.
  3. Join with family and friends to sponsor one of our children. Then share together each time you get a sponsor update.
  4. Be consistent. Keep sharing about our ministry.
  5. Be prepared. Be ready to answer questions and tell your story in a relatable way.

Ready to visit Dorie’s Promise? Why not consider taking advantage of our discounted travel weeks this fall?

Want to do even more on behalf of Forever Changed International? Consider becoming a Partner of Hope.

Homeschooling Success Stories

August 14th, 2017 by

The backpacks of children from Dorie's Promise and neatly lined up and ready to go.

By Kelly Shank –

Dorie's Promise teacher Lucky gets some papers ready.For many of us August signals the end of summer vacation and beginning of a new school year. We’re busy scoping out back-to-school sales, shuttling kids to sports practices, and attending back-to-school nights as we ease back into our routines. We don’t question whether our children will attend school, just maybe which school is the best fit for them.

Education is a great equalizer but when children are born into generational poverty they lack access to this gift.

Often children entering Dorie’s Promise, and those in communities where we serve, lack opportunities for quality education. Education can be a luxury because survival is the priority.

Did your family ever move when you were a child? Do you remember walking into your new school on the first day, unsure about where to go and not yet having met your new group of friends?

Now imagine this same situation but you’re 7 years old and you’re entering school for the first time ever. No preschool, no kindergarten, no formal schooling. Earlier this year we welcomed Cristina into our home after the horrific fire at the Virgen de Ascunsion orphanage. Based on her age, she should be well into elementary school by our standards, but this bright young girl has never attended school before. The mix of an unstable home and eventual transfer to a large government orphanage caused her to miss out on her education. She wasn’t just behind in school, she had never been exposed to school before.

Earlier this year we welcomed Cristina into our home after the horrific fire at the Virgen de Ascunsion orphanage.


We are starting at the beginning to help her catch up on her studies and she is excited to experience school for the first time.

Cristina isn’t our first child who has needed special help with school. For some of the poorest in Guatemala, their childhood revolves around picking vegetables or selling trinkets on the streets of Guatemala City to help support their families. Many years ago we opened our home to a beautiful young woman who had been working to help care for her four younger siblings. We knew that she was full of potential and wanted to learn but school would not be easy for her. Instead of Spanish, her native language was one of the local dialects which made learning in a traditional school and communicating within our home difficult. Overcoming this obstacle was key to her future school success.

Both of these girls are bright and filled with promise, our job is to help them be successful. Thanks to our teacher at Dorie’s Promise and the efforts of the Special Mothers in our home, both of these young ladies have made huge strides. The young woman who came to us many years ago made tremendous gains during the years she lived with us.

At Dorie's Promise children get education to match their needs.After being homeschooled she was able to attend a local vocational school that offered her the chance for a good job. The girl who struggled to speak Spanish eventually went on to surprise us by learning conversational English. We are thankful for our dedicated teacher and Special Mothers who spent countless hours helping these girls so that they could make up for many lost school years.

These are just two examples of the difficulties our children face. Identifying the struggles and strengths of each child in our home is key to helping them succeed! We give our children opportunities to be adults who can break the cycle of generational poverty and become the next generation of leaders.

Orphan Care through Missions

August 7th, 2017 by

A child get her lunch from Pastor Mercedez lunch program.

By Kelly Shank –

God has called us to passionately serve the world’s forgotten children through life-changing ministries.

Yire was brought to Dorie's Promise at only 2 months old. Heather Radu came to Guatemala seventeen years ago to serve children who were vulnerable and forgotten, helping hundreds of orphans be placed in loving families through Dorie’s Promise. In the years since international adoptions closed, we have become even more determined to remain in Guatemala and make a difference. We stayed because our commitment is to the children entrusted to our care and the country they will one day lead. God called us into missions as a way to support orphan care and we feel privileged to serve.

Children find their way into our home through a myriad of traumatic experiences and many will be with us for years.

Yire was brought to us at only 2 months old. Shortly thereafter his mother died, leaving him in our care indefinitely. Seven years later, Yire is thriving at Dorie’s Promise. The snuggly toddler with dark curly hair has grown into a bright little boy who enjoys playing with friends and going to school, just like your kids.

You might wonder how the missions program helps kids like Yire.Yire is now a bright eyed energetic seven year old.

Without trip participants we wouldn’t be able to sustain our home and offer the kind of care that changes lives. Trip participants help support our home financially, they provide much needed donations for our children, and they offer experiences we might not be able to afford otherwise. Even more importantly, those who meet our children often become long-term sponsors and are directly connected to the financial health of our home.

But what about all of the children who don’t live at Dorie’s Promise?

Missions helps us care for those children and their families as well. Throughout Guatemala other private organizations and government facilities care for children who make their way into the court system but the majority of the vulnerable children in Guatemala never make it onto any official records. Instead they represent those who are born into the cycle of poverty and whose families struggle to survive daily. Hunger, sickness, and lack of education are constant in their lives and they have few opportunities to change their life.

Imagine being born outside the Guatemala City landfill. From an early age you care for yourself because your parents work sorting recyclables day in and day out. If you’re lucky, your wood and tin home has a concrete floor and running water but that’s not guaranteed. On weekdays, you line up with other neighborhood kids to get a hot lunch from Pastor Mercedez at the feeding center. Hopefully you are in school instead of working. You don’t realize that life can be different.

The crowd getting a hot lunch from Pastor Mercedez at the feeding center.This is where missions helps our commitment to all of Guatemala, both in our home and in our communities. Our dedicated staff and teams allow us support local leaders and organizations that are working directly in these communities. We’re helping Pastor Mercedez feed more than 400 children each day so that their parents can work without worrying if they’re hungry. We bring much needed supplies to groups who tutor local children so that they have a better chance of finishing school.

Our goal is to improve the lives of the families so that they are able to keep their children in their homes. What we have learned is that these families love their children and most work hard to provide the best they can but the cycle of poverty is hard to overcome.

Slowly and deliberately we are learning how best to work with local leaders to provide opportunities for community change. We’re focusing on holistic healthcare, quality nutrition, and educational programs that aim to lift entire communities and begin changing the standard in Guatemala.