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Back to School

Wednesday, February 3rd, 2016

Ready for another year of school!

By MJ Zelya –

Heading to the van for schoolThe return to school after the holidays is a little difficult but exciting for the children of Dorie’s Promise. For some children they feel like they are “big kids” now because they will begin primary school. For others they are excited because they will attend to school for the first time this year, and others because they are returning to study and play with their school friends.

It is gratifying to see their excitement, as we watched them explore their backpacks filled with new school supplies, books, and workbooks.

The first day of school is always a little crazy and a bit rushed for everyone, including special mothers, because we have children attending 4 different schools. The children go to schools that can best help their development depending on their current knowledge and skill level.

The schools they attend are El Shaddai, Hossana School, American-Guatemalan Institute and a few attend public school. We truly believe that helping our children to attend a school that is right for them, will open doors in the future and will drop the barriers of poverty, that generations of their families have lived in.

Boys ready for the first day of school.One day the children will leave our home and like any good parent we want to prepare them as best as we can to be good people, who can support their families and be a godly example for others.

When children are given the opportunity to be educated they are able to gain social and emotional skills including: confidence, persistence, organization, getting along with others, and emotional resilience—qualities that they are developing not only at Dorie’s Promise but also in the school setting.

While at school they also work on developing new motor skills. Physical Education encourages them to do things better with practice (like dribbling a ball or jumping rope) and they learn teamwork which is an essential skill.

By the way— Our children really do love school!

The girls, ready on the first day of school.Seven year old, Nayeli Soto says, “I like to go to school because it helps me to learn more. Now I can read the books that I like. Last year my favorite subjects were math and science.”

Abraham Emanuel, also seven, says, “I like to do my homework, color and play with my friends at school. I like sports, especially when we play soccer!”

Ingrid who is 14 says she’s excited for school because, “this year I’m going to a private school where my English classes will be more intensive and I will learn computer Skills. I’m so happy!”

Yire, age 5, told us, “I like my school, the activities they have for us are fun. And I like to do my homework.” But he complains that it’s difficult for him to do cursive handwriting!

We are grateful because God’s has provided, through our many sponsors, the opportunity to give our children a good education and a better future! If you are not a sponsor yet, please prayerfully consider sponsoring one of our children. You’ll be part of shaping a new future for them and it might even change your life!

Merary is Added to the Sponsorship Program

Wednesday, January 27th, 2016

meraryBy MJ Zelya –

Meet MeraryMerary (Age 9) came to Dorie’s Promise this last October. Since she was a small baby she had been living with a relative. Her birth mother is drug addict and was unable to care for her. Even then, the relative was abusing her and she was rescued by her aunt, who brought her to the Minor’s court. The judge sent Merary to Dorie’s Promise until her case is resolved.

Interestingly enough, Merary is Yire’s sister. They hadn’t actually met until Merary came to Dorie’s Promise.

At first Merary was very shy—she never spoke to anyone, hardly smiled and she was always distracted. Her gross motor skills were not developed. One of the things she really wanted to do was jump rope, but she wasn’t coordinated enough to do it.

It is so exciting to watch, as children come to our home and grow in the confidence and abilities!

Merary has done just that, she’s learned to jump rope, and it’s become a favorite activity for her. Lorena, one of the Supervisors says, “Now she talks all the time, she smiles and she is a joker.” What big changes in such a short time!

Lorena goes on to say, “She makes her bed neat and she likes to cooperate with us on housekeeping tasks. She shares freely and is very loving. She’s also able to expresses her feelings well.”Merary is a very smart girl.

Merary’s favorite color is red and her favorite television program is Princess Sofia.

She is very smart, so it shouldn’t have been a surprise to find out that she knows all the names of Bible’s books and she says them in order. She also has learned many proverbs from the Bible and she shares them with us.

Merary certainly enjoys living at Dorie’s Promise. “I like this place,” she says. “I eat delicious food. Many times a day! I also have clothes and shoes, and I will go to school soon. When I grow up I want to be a teacher. I’m happy because I have many friends and many moms that love me here.”

Merary has just been added to our sponsorship program. Will you consider becoming her sponsor? Your sponsorship helps us provide so much more than just room and board. It also helps us provide medical care, education and spiritual and emotional support. Sponsor Merary and help us make her dreams for the future come true.

Praying For the Children of Dorie’s Promise: It Makes A Difference!

Friday, January 15th, 2016

Maria Jose and Franco with Dorie's Promise Director Alej

Maria Jose and Franco with Dorie’s Promise Director Alej

By Kim Palmer –

I am happy to share my connection with the children through prayer, visits and sponsorship.

I have visited Dories Promise six times now. After my first visit to Dories Promise, my life has been Forever Changed. I have seen first hand the power of prayer, God hears our prayers!!!

I miss the children so much, the best way for me to connect with them when I am not at Dories Promise is through God and prayer. I pray for the Special Mothers, the great team there- Pablo, Abel and Jessica and the sweet amazing children! I pray in groups for the Special Mothers and other staff, they all work so hard and give so much love to the children and really make it such an amazing week for all of us who come to visit!

When I pray for the children some are really weighing on my heart, I get tears in my eyes sometimes when I pray for them. I say group prayers for the children but a lot of individual prayers for the children also. There has been one of the children that I really have been praying extra for, all my visits there was so hard to get her to smile, she really wanted a forever family. My last visit there she was hugging me and I didn’t want to let go I wanted to take her pain away. God heard our prayers, Maria and Franco were adopted! (See story)

Maria was one of the three children that I sponsor through the sponsorship program. One of the reasons I chose her was because my heart could not stop aching for her, I wanted her to smile again! The sponsorship program is great, I really appreciate all the updates on the web-site, another great way to help us stay connected with Dories Promise.

I know the sponsorship program really makes a difference for these children. I pray every day for these amazing children, pray for health, peace and happiness.

I look forward to my next visit to Dories Promise- the children are always on my mind and forever in my heart!

Meet Jennifer: Help Make Her Dreams Come True

Thursday, January 14th, 2016

Jennifer at Dorie's Promise in 2009.

Jennifer at Dorie’s Promise in 2009.

By MJ Zelya –

Jennifer at Dorie's Promise 2016

Jennifer (Age 12) came to Dorie’s Promise in 2007 when she was only 4 years old.  Her mother decided to give her up for adoption* because she remarried and had a new family.  When Jennifer came to live at Dorie’s Promise she did not speak Spanish just a Mayan language called Kakchiquel. It was difficult, at first, for everyone to understand her needs. In the end, she adapted very well and learned Spanish so quickly that she was able to enroll in school that same year.

She is a smart girl, we noticed that right away. She has always earned good grades in school, and her teachers say she is a great student. She would like to learn English and speak it fluently!

“I’d like to go to college someday,” says Jennifer.

Her Special Mothers see that as a real possibly, “She is very responsible, and does her homework all by herself.”

She enjoys Bible study time and shares the stories she learns there with the other girls. One of her favorites is the story of Jesus feeding the 5,000 when Jesus took the five loaves of bread and two fish and fed the multitude.

Jennifer is very optimistic and goal orientated. When she sets a goal, she works hard to accomplish it no matter the time it may take.

She is also a very creative girl. She loves to draw and make handicrafts (especially bracelets. See photo right.)

Jennifer and friends showing off the bracelets Jennifer made.Her favorite foods are hamburgers, guacamole, and pasta.

Special Mother Nohemi, the supervisor of house 6 says, “Jennifer is always willing to help others and she is an obedient child.”

She goes on to say, “She is growing up quickly. She is so beautiful. You can see that she is leaving the childhood stage and entering into the teenage years. She is a very lovely girl in so many ways.”

Jennifer is grateful for the opportunity God’s given her to live at Dorie’s Promise. “To me, this home is like a family.” Yet still she desires a for a Forever Family to adopt her*. We will continue to pray for a loving, godly Guatemalan family for Jennifer. Yet we appreciate the privilege of knowing Jennifer and watching her grown into such a delightful young lady.

Please consider sponsoring Jennifer and helping her make her dreams come true!

*International adoptions from Guatemala closed in 2008

Educational Accomplishments in 2015

Monday, December 28th, 2015

Teacher Lucky with a couple of the children at Dori'es Promise

By Lucrecia “Lucky” Perez  –

Lucky in the classroom at Dorie's PromiseHow do you fundamentally change a society? Education. It is a fundamental human right and will be the basis for building a better future for Guatemala. Education opens doors to being a better person, a person who will help make our world better. It helps us develop our strengths and improve upon our weaknesses. That is why we believe that with a good education our children can change the pattern set by previous generations who were stuck in a cycle of poverty.

This is our approach at Dorie’s Promise, we believe that greater education will make our children better people. It also allows the children to acquire the knowledge and skills necessary to adopt healthy ways of living and to make wise decisions for their future.

During this school year, we saw impressive progress in most of our children. We have several students who were already excelling at school. Some others started school this year, and gave it their best, despite hardships along the way. Attending school has helped our children feel safer, learn to share with others, to speak more clearly, and a host of other benefits.

We are so excited to share with you some of their accomplishments:

Several students participated in a science fair this year. Jennifer and Ana both did group projects that won prizes. It was an unforgettable experience.

Abraham and Nayeli Soto started primary school at El Shaddai this year. Abraham found it hard to adapt at first. During the year we worked together with his teacher to get positive results in his ability to follow the classroom routine and to get along with his classmates.

Lucky helping Jennifer with her homework.This year was a challenge for Ingrid, math is her least favorite subject and this year she had to do more than she’s done before. However, she stuck with it and we worked with her to improve her skill at mathematics. By the end of the year, her teach told us that she had improved and was a very responsible student.

Finally, let me tell you about Lucia- her teacher told us she takes initiative to learn and is interested in improving her reading. Lucia is a girl with clear goals and if she continues working hard there is no limit to what she can achieve. She has already overcome so much in her life (read her story here) it’s great to see her taking a positive approach to her education.

The school year in Guatemala runs from January through October. We currently have 15 children who will start private school in January.

The average cost of sending a child to private school is $1,700 per year. This amount covers tuition, books, uniforms, after-school activities, tutoring, supplies, and transportation. Help us continue to give our children an exceptional education experience through your kind giving. Our goal is to raise $55,600 by December 31. These accomplishments are just the tip of the iceberg. We have seen education do so much for the children of Dorie’s Promise.

Please consider a special gift to enable us to continue to provide these opportunities for our children.

Special Tax-Free IRA Gifts

Tuesday, December 22nd, 2015

Make a special year-end gift to help the children at Dorie's Promise.

Congress did it again and this time it’s permanent!  You may remember that we mentioned this special giving opportunity last year, but this December Congress passed legislation retroactively extending the charitable IRA rollover for 2015 and makes this provision permanent for future years. For those aged 70½ or older, it is once again possible to make special tax-free charitable gifts from traditional and Roth IRA accounts.

A total of up to $100,000 can be transferred directly from traditional or Roth IRAs to one or more qualified charities free from federal income tax each year. There may also be state income tax savings. Amounts given in this way count toward required IRA minimum withdrawal amounts for the year of the gift.

To make such gifts, it is important to not withdraw funds prior to a gift, but have the gift amount distributed directly from an IRA to one or more qualified charities, like Forever Changed International. For those with check writing privileges on their accounts, this may be the most efficient way to make gifts directly from an IRA.

Please check with your IRA administrator or your tax adviser for more information.

As we look ahead at the next 9 days that remain in the year, will you prayerfully consider taking advantage of this great IRA option and making a gift to help support the children of Dorie’s Promise?

If you have questions or want to make sure your gift is designated properly, please contact Charity Danielson 360-836-7626

A Fun Day Out At the Tennis Club!

Friday, December 18th, 2015

A fun tennis outing!

By Omar David –

Lucia playing tennis during the outing.I have been visiting Dorie’s Promise for four years and still come once a week to play with the kids.  You will find me there every Thursday afternoon for about 45 minutes.

I got to know about Forever Changed International while playing tennis with Dr. Castro.  A couple of years later he came to my place of work to purchase some items. I asked him then if he was still working at the orphanage and if there was anything I could do to help. He told me that they were short on vaccines and other medicines. At this point I told him I would find funds to get what he needed.

That was about 6 years ago, with the help of my church, family, friends and business contacts we have been able to cover the cost of most of the medications, vaccines and some medical equipment. With the help of others we have at times supplied produce, sugar, toys and clothing for the children.

Alex is having fun learning to play tennis.At times, I try to share special events with the kids; Thanksgiving dinner, Easter egg hunts, magic & music shows and of course an annual tennis day. Thanks to the local tennis club and the trainers there we just enjoyed our 4th year of this fun outing.

Once a year; we take all the children and Special Mothers to play tennis at the club. It helps break the monotony of their routine and it’s a good way for the children to learn a new sport while having fun and using up their energy.

I coordinated plans with the club president to be able to offer the children a tennis day. This year four tennis coaches were happy to assist with the activities. Because we had plenty of helpers we were able to organize the kids by age. They were fascinated to learn how to play and for many it was the first time they had picked up a tennis racket.

Playing a fun game with the tennis balls.We first showed them how they should use the racket. And then explained the basic rules. After that we had some competitions and games and finally an exhibition match was played between teachers to give them an idea of the sport.

After this fun activity, we met in the Club’s restaurant for hot dogs and a soda.

Nayeli Soto shared her experience afterwards, “I like sports and what I like about tennis is hitting the ball with the racket, running and playing the king of the court. It’s very fun!”

Luis also likes to play king of the court. He said,  “I also love to bounce the ball with the racket and try to keep it from escaping. It was a lot of fun!”

Dorie’s Promise is a very welcoming place, and the care that is given to children there is excellent. I really enjoy the opportunity to share my time with the children. And find it fulling to my soul to do so.

Being Grateful

Friday, December 11th, 2015

Being Grateful

By MJ Zelya –

Children at Dorie's Promise showing their joy.If I think about what I am thankful for this year a myriad of things come to mind—a big list. Especially all the good things received from our Heavenly Father. He has been watching over us and did not abandon us despite storms and circumstances, in which we live daily. What we failed to accomplish through the year teaches us not to give up, to continuing fighting for what we want and to have hope beyond the difficulties.

For some maybe this was a good year, for others less so, but in the end the most important thing is that we are alive and that’s a great reason to be thankful!

Being grateful is a quality that we try to model in our lives, being thankful for all that God gives us and to sharing with others without expecting anything in return. Every day we (the Dorie’s Promise staff) pray and thank God for the day and for his continued grace with this ministry to orphans.

We want to share our thanksgiving with you because you are an important part of our lives and help make possible the ministry of Dorie’s Promise.

Nohemi Peña (Special Mother)

Giving thanks for all the blessing in their lives.I thank God for my health, for my job- that is very special to me, my family, for Dorie’s Promise, for the labor that Heather Radu (our founder) does on behalf of our children, for Alejandra Diaz (our director), and all the mission trippers we received this year, and for the lives of every child in the home.

Lorena (Special Mother)

We thank God for the opportunity given to Maria Jose and Franco to find a forever family (read about it here.) I also give thanks for all the children that we have the opportunity to help and change their lives for the better.

Nayeli Lux (18 years old)

I’m very grateful to God for all the opportunities he has given me, and for what I learn from those opportunities. I’m especially thankful to him for giving me the opportunity to be in this home surrounded people that love me. I pray that the Lord would have mercy on those people that are in war and that he would give them peace.

Silvia (9 years old)

I am thankful because I’m alive and because God blesses me with food, clothing and this home. I pray that the Lord would bless the children that live in the streets that have no food as he’s blessed me.

The children of Dorie's Promise have a lot to be thankful for.Jennifer (12 years old)

I thank God because he saved me from many dangers and problems that a life on the streets would have brought. I thank him because I’m in a place that takes care of me and shows me about God and his purposes. The other kids, Special Mothers, staff, Heather and visitors from USA and Canada that come every year and make us feel special—they are my family and I’m so blessed to have them in my life.

Maria Najera (8 years old)

I’m happy because I have a family and a house where I can live, and for the opportunity God gives us to attend to school.

Brayan (15 years old)

God gives me a family, I am thankful for that. I am thankful for my bed, my house, food and home.

Yire: (5 years old)

I am thankful for everything He gives me, because He promises that He is my father and He will give me what I need.

 

God is good! And don’t forget what’s written in the Scriptures:

Rejoice always

Pray continually

Give thanks in all circumstances

For this is God’s will for you.

1 Thessalonians 5:18

Taking The Experience Home: Farrah Carmen’s Story

Thursday, December 3rd, 2015

Farrah (Center) with children from Dorie's Promise.

By FCI Team –

Farrah ( on right) at the Miss Canada Globe pageantWe recently spoke with Farrah Carmen about how her experience at Dorie’s Promise inspired her as she competed in a recent pageant. Farrah used her mission trip experience in an essay as part of the Miss Canada Globe application process, and then advocated for Forever Changed International (FCI) before a panel of judges explaining why it was her charity of choice. When people like Farrah, and our Partners of Hope, share their passion for our children and home they help raise not only awareness, they also make caring connections for orphans. By speaking for orphans they are giving voice to those who typically have no voice.

We thank Farrah and all those like her who take their experiences on the mission field home with them – who invite others to be sponsors, who excite their friend and family into serving with us, and who help others give meaningfully. Thank You. (For more information about becoming a Partner of Hope click here.)

Interview with Farrah Carmen:

  1. Where did you hear about FCI or Dorie’s Promise?

I was researching different mission trips online, and I came across Forever Changed International during my research. Once I explored the website and the statement of faith I was happy to have finally found a mission trip I was serious about.

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

I was extremely interested in FCI because I wanted to travel somewhere new where I would have the opportunity to work with children. I was also inspired by Heather Radu’s life story and how she recognized the need for orphan care.

Farrah on her missions trip to Guatemala.Orphan care is close to my heart; myself having been a ward of the government, in my home country of Canada since the age of seven. I felt I would be able to connect with the children. I also appreciated the fact that Dorie’s Promise placed an importance on showing the children God’s love.

  1. What was it like to travel to Guatemala?

Initially I was scared to travel to Guatemala alone, but I was met at the airport by one of the staff who was really kind. Everyone was so friendly that I immediately felt at ease. There were fifteen of us serving together during the week I was at Dorie’s Promise. The next day, when we got to meet the children one of the little girls, Selene, jumped right into my lap. It was then I remembered why I was there.

Our group leader for the week was Pablo. He was funny and though he is young he really helped us connect with God and his love. Every morning we prayed and we were reminded about why we were there. I thought he was a great leader.

The accommodations were very clean and Pablo was so helpful. I felt from the very beginning that I had everything I needed for the week of serving God through Dories Promise.

  1. What was your impression of the Dorie’s Promise?

Farrah with Pablo in GuatemalaI couldn’t believe there was on-site pediatrician, so it was nice to see that the children were getting medical attention if they needed it. I was happy to see the ratio of Special Mothers to children, and that they really cared about the children of Dorie’s Promise. The children were so friendly. They were all so playful; it made me feel like a kid again. Even though there was a language barrier we still had so much fun, playing games together like “duck, duck, goose” and baseball. They are so special each and every one of the children at Dorie’s Promise.

  1. What was your biggest take-away from the trip?

My biggest take away from the trip was realizing the orphanage does not receive any government funding and it is solely supported through sponsorship. This made me recognize how important sponsorship is and how I can make a difference.

  1. Why do you think people should support Dorie Promise or sponsor one of our children?

I think people need information and awareness about what the Forever Changed International organization does. One way to achieve that, I believe, is through word of mouth, and I hoped by supporting Dories Promise as my platform at the pageant that a lot more people can see what how important it is to support the Forever Changed International organization.

Forever Changed International is a great organization that deserves recognition and the children of Dorie’s Promise also deserve the love, care, and medical attention that sponsors help provide.

Learn more about Farrah and the Miss Canada Globe pageant. or Become a Sponsor Today.

Good Health & Relationships at Dorie’s Promise

Wednesday, November 25th, 2015

Doctor Castro and some of his "patients"

By Dr. Francisco Castro –

Lester takes a listenWe believe that good health depends on dynamic but stable relationships among biological, psychological, social and spiritual factors. A comprehensive and integral health system should become involved in attending to such factors.

Our system utilizes four health strategies; health promotion (via education of Dorie’s Promise personnel), disease preventive, treatment and rehabilitation.

We keep a close eye on the children’s growth and development through regular check-ups, depending on child age and health, it allows us to get a baseline when a child arrives and then allows us to accurately gage outcomes from our interventions.

During the first few hours after a child arrives at Dorie’s Promise we give them a thoroughly physical and mental examination and a preliminary clinical impression is determined, follow by a plan for their health and development.

Hans, happy and healthy at our home.

Hans, happy and healthy living at our home.

A child may be put into quarantine for a few days, under close observation and gradually be adapted to the homes environment. In the meantime, we are able to get test results and treat them for any preexisting conditions. This system, of quarantine and gradual introduction has been successful in preventing outbreaks of infectious diseases. It’s been many years since we’ve had a major outbreak.

One boy, Hans came to use this year after being hit by a car. He suffered some head trauma, as well as suffering from other problems being related to having lived on his own, on the streets. Dental cavities, lice and scabies are common malady’s see when children first enter our home.

The program also watches out for personnel whom could bring in infectious diseases, diagnosing and treating or giving recommendations. We also have been able to serve missionaries that become ill when visiting our home. Occasionally also serving other children´s homes that ask for pediatric assistance and advice.

We work hard to promote a healthy lifestyle for personnel and children, so almost every activity at Dorie’s Promise has a potentially positive impact on integral health. In that respect activities are assessed to help avoid accidents, food safety is reviewed to prevent food borne illnesses, and healthy food and physical activities are promoted. All children are in need of good health education and training for them to take care of themselves, live and work an independent life.

Doctor Castro and his nurse with several of the children from Dorie's Promise.25% of our children suffer more complex and chronic illness that require ongoing treatment. They will need our program to provide continuing access to pediatric, psychological and specialized professionals to help them.

Dorie’s Promise through its health program has been blessed with a good relationship so far with Guatemala´s private sector healthcare, Ministry of Health officials and medical teams working at the leading public/teaching hospitals and their pediatric and specialties departments. These hospitals, clinics and laboratories are willing to continue supporting us, most of them giving time and services without any financial demand from us.

Thank you to all of our homes donors and sponsors who provide for our children. We are only able to offer this excellent healthcare because of your help.