2012 Year in Review
The Children of Dorie’s Promise
Dorie’s Promise Guatemala
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By Alejandra Diaz-
Our program of caring for and guiding children at Dorie’s Promise includes continuing education for staff members who work with them.
Currently we are using material that helps our Special Mothers better understand their responsibilities and how to instill discipline and respect in youngsters.
Designed by a trio of teachers and parents with a combined total of 75 years of experience, the Parenting with Love and Logic curriculum teaches parents to hold children accountable for their actions. This includes establishing consequences for their actions and following through.
Says the Love and Logic Institute: “Many parents want their children to be well prepared for life, and they know this means kids will make mistakes and must be held accountable for those mistakes.
“But these parents often fail to hold the kids accountable for poor decisions because they are afraid the kids will see (them) as being mean. The result is they often excuse bad behavior, finding it easier to hold others—including themselves—accountable for their children’s irresponsibility.”
As an example, when a child leaves his or her bike unlocked, meaning it gets stolen, a parent can express sympathy.
However, holding the child accountable includes letting him know that he can only have another one after saving up the money to pay for it.
This year we are training our Special Mothers by reviewing this material at monthly meetings. Each will read a chapter the week before the meeting. At the session, they will have time share and express different ideas or questions about each lesson.
Because so many of our children come from abusive homes or other dysfunctional circumstances, it is easy to take pity and never enforce rules with them.
However, this would be going to the other extreme. No matter how badly they have been treated in the past, children still need loving guidance. As Proverbs 22:6 puts it, “Train up a child in the way he should go…”
The Love and Logic philosophy is a way of raising and teaching children so they can grow through their mistakes, take responsibility for their actions, and live with the consequences of their choices.
We like the way it emphasizes respect and dignity for children while allowing those who raise them to grasp simple approaches instead of trying to learn difficult counseling procedures. As any parent knows, raising children is a tough, often thankless task that takes years of effort.
With God’s help, while we are acting as these children’s substitute parents we will do our best to raise them to be happy, responsible, respectful adults.
By Ken Walker-
We welcomed two special guests this past week from Bethel Memorial Church in Princeton, Indiana. They brought Christmas gifts for residents of the ghetto, our Special Mothers, and our children.
We are doing our best to keep the latter a secret, since the children’s Christmas party is Dec. 23. The Special Mothers opened their gifts today (Dec. 21.)
The two were part of a 20-member mission team that worked here last summer. After arriving last Saturday (Dec. 17) Matthew and Todd visited the ghetto to distribute food bags, Bibles, and presents for the kids in those areas.
This all started with a “Forever Friend” gift exchange last summer. Each member of the mission team selected a child and purchased gifts based on their age, gender and height. They presented them the second day of their visit.
“They were shocked at how much stuff we got them,” Matthew says. “We didn’t think it was really anything. Bradley (Burck, communications director) joked that we should do this for Christmas. After we got back, I felt God was telling me that we needed to do more to impact these
kids’ lives. A couple other team members felt the same thing.”
After an informal discussion at Bethel Memorial, the missions board chairman asked team leaders if the children at Dorie’s Promise ever received gifts because he was searching for a Christmas project.
In September, Matthew and Todd approached different committees and the church board to secure their approval. In October, they presented the project to the congregation.
“All the pieces fell into place and they kept going well,” Matthew says. “I asked the staff to give me a list of kids’ sizes and what they wanted for Christmas. We asked for things that they would usually not ask for or receive. I then created pamphlets with each child’s background and what he or she wanted for Christmas. Families bought presents for each child, including the babies. The toys they will receive are specifically what they asked for.”
Director Alejandra Diaz says she has been blessed and encouraged to work with both men. “I love Matthew’s excitement and passion for serving,” she says. “It’s people like Matthew and Todd who encourage me to continue to work and serve. Because of their support we are able to move forward as individuals and as an organization, and share the love of Christ.
“Often our actions speak louder than our words,” Alej says. “At times people want to know they are loved and valued. That’s what Matthew and Todd have done.”
“It’s awesome that it all came together,” Matthew says. “It feels great to be able to do so much for so many people.”
By Desi Stephens-
After 11 years that seemed to pass like weeks, we recently bid farewell to Special Mother Diana Chanchavac, who left our staff for another opportunity in the United States. We thank her for her time and service.
We wish Diana the best as she starts a new chapter in life, and pray that God will continue to bless her efforts.
“Her smile always brightened everyone’s day,” Heather says. “She has shared abundant amounts of love and joy with all of us for over 11 years. Diana, you will forever be missed by all of us!”
When Diana came here as a young woman, she had no background or experience in caring for children, except for her Sunday school class at church. Soon after starting, she realized Dorie’s Promise was much different.
“These children needed love, care, attention and many other things,” says Diana, most recently the supervisor of House 5.
“They come from such difficult situations, such as abuse and abandonment. I was just 21 years old when children first started calling me Mom. I felt special when I heard them call me that.”
It is no wonder Diana was loved, since she was an excellent worker with a good attitude and a wonderful person to be around, says Director Alej Diaz.
“She was an example to the other Special Moms what it means to be a good person and share her love with everyone,” Alej says.
Other Special Mothers admired Diana, including her sister Lorena Chanchavac. Lorena says her sister is an example of everything being possible if you do it right and with a positive attitude.
“She always had a smile on her face,” Lorena says. “She was responsible, humble and dedicated to her work. I will miss her a lot, but I know God has a purpose in all things.”
Mahaly Lemus says Diana was not just a supervisor, but a friend who taught her a lot and encouraged her on sad days.
“She is a very special woman,” Mahaly says. “I will always be grateful to her.”
Other staff members learned a lot from Diana. Driver Oscar Merida says she taught him passion for his work and to love everyone,
while cook Dolores Zapata recalls how the two of them often laughed together.
“She taught me, no matter what, always stay positive and give your best,” Dolores says.
Diana parted with a special thanks for the Beazley family, especially Heather and Hanna.
She says it was hard to leave because of her love for the home and our children.
“I will be back,” Diana says. “I don’t know when our paths will cross again—but they will!”
By Ken Walker-
The mothers of two children who left Dorie’s Promise last spring say they are thriving in their new surroundings, adapting to their extended families, and starting preschool this fall.
After a gradual transition to his new home and a different language, Evan Alejandro Anderson started preschool this week in the system where his mother, Laura, works as an occupational therapist.
Laura and her husband, Scott, waited three years before their first child finally arrived in Rochester Hills, Michigan last April.
However, Laura says the delay proved to be worth it. Traveling to Guatemala 14 times to see Alejandro, they got to know the staff and appreciate the role they played in starting him toward a fulfilling life.
“It’s an absolute miracle,” she says of their son’s long-awaited arrival. “We always knew God would come through.”
“Marcela is loving life in the big city,” says Becky, who works for the federal government.
“Among her favorite things are the elephants at the zoo, the butterflies and dinosaurs in the National History Museum, and the carousel on the National Mall.”
Like Alejandro, Marcela will attend preschool this fall after a fun-filled summer. In recent months the Kurtzes have visited playgrounds, swimming pools and the beach. On visits to North Carolina and Texas, Marcela met all of her aunts, uncles and cousins.
“She really treasures spending time with her extended family,” Becky says. “They all warmly welcomed her.”
Laura is especially pleased with the way her large extended family has welcomed Alejandro, and the way she believes his story will shine a light on God.
“They felt like they knew him through pictures and videos, but to meet him and play with him is huge,” Laura says. “People have said, ‘To see you remain faithful for so long has touched me.’
“I’m so thankful for the Special Mothers at Dorie’s Promise,” Laura adds. “I knew he was loved, hugged, fed and allowed to grow. To watch him flourish now is amazing. He knows how to spell his name, where he lives and wants to know everything.”
Becky has similar feelings, saying because of the wait, they feel more connected to people at the home and other places in Guatemala.
“Marcela is a wonderful little girl,” she says. “The best part is just all being together. We both love it when she crawls into our bed in the morning, puts her arms both of our necks and proclaims, ‘la familia!’ It’s hard to beat that joyful expression of belonging and love.”
By Desi Stephens-
The newest child at our home came to us from the government orphanage where FCI’s mission teams serve. Maria was placed there two days after her birth when her 19-year-old mother abandoned her.
Special Mother Ismelda Sumale is caring for Maria, who was born Apr. 14.
“Before coming to Dorie’s Promise she didn’t smile a lot,” Ismelda says. “Now she is always smiling. She really enjoys her bottle and I love spending time with her. She is so cute.”
Unfortunately, it isn’t shocking for the court system to refer babies to us who have been abandoned at the hospital. It happens often in Guatemala City.
Before a Guatemalan family can adopt Maria, certain legal steps must occur. For a child to make the adoption registry, officials must first investigate to determine if extended family members want to go through the legal process to obtain custody.
If no family expresses an interest in adoption, the child can be moved to “favorable” adoption status.
Currently, only domestic adoptions are taking place in Guatemala.
While we wait to see what happens, there are two major ways that supporters can pray for Maria.
One is for healing, since she is sick—pray that God would watch over her and provide her with good health. The other is that individuals would sponsor her so that all her needs would be met, from medicine to food.
It only costs $35 a month to sponsor a child. Our children benefit greatly from donors’ generosity.
With Maria joining us recently, our home has 38 children, just six shy of capacity. As a private home, we feel the impact of international adoptions being closed. Our prayer is that we will be able to expand our home to continue serving the children of Guatemala.
In addition to expansion, we have three major projects that we are trying to accomplish:
1) The first is getting our four homes well established. Pray that new donors would join our mission.
2) We need about $5,000 for improvements to our backyard.
3) We are hoping to raise funds to buy a new van. Our children are growing and we need more reliable transportation for them, as well as our mission teams. A new van will cost $25,000.
As we like to say here, no gift is too small and all gifts are appreciated.
Can you Give Today?
By Alej Diaz-
On June 6, Nicolasa Sumale celebrated her tenth anniversary with Dorie’s Promise, an occasion that put smiles on everyone’s face here. “Mama Nico,” as she is known, is one of the reasons we call the women who care for our children Special Mothers.
She likes being a Special Mother because she knows it fulfills God’s purpose for her life.
In addition, she can share with the children and give them love. A very active person, Nico does not like to be doing the same thing for a certain amount of time. Working at our homes gives her the opportunity to multi-task.
“Every day is a challenge,” she says. “You never know what to expect. Children can be very active or they may remain quiet for most of the day. The changes are one reason I like my job.”
There are others. Nico enjoys everything, although she does admit she faces a fight regularly—trying to keep the closets in order so she knows whose clothing belongs to what child.
Her rewards are numerous. She loves to see children happy, healthy and knowing that they feel loved.
It touches her heart when young children call her, “Mama” or just say, “Gracias.” “Sometimes they become your own children,” she says.
The most challenging task is to educate the children. All come from different backgrounds, so sometimes she struggles to do the right thing and use the right words at the right time.
That is something only God can do, Nico says, because as humans we always make mistakes.
Still, she considers teaching the children how to follow instructions and to respect others as one of her most significant responsibilities. She wants the children to learn how to be good men and women.
One of Nico’s favorite memories over the past decade is of a boy named Esteban, the first baby she ever cared for. His mother had gotten pregnant while her husband was working in another country. Her mother-in-law threatened to tell him if she didn’t get rid of the baby.
Since Esteban cried a lot, Nico would put him on her back at the same time she watched other children. An American family adopted him when he was five months old. Although Nico has never heard from Esteban or his adoptive family, she still prays for him.
“It is a blessing for me to work here,” she says.
“I know that all the mothers feel blessed, too. My dream is that we can keep working and helping other children. I want to see them keep growing and walking on the right path.”
By Alej Diaz -
Our 32 Special Moms are more excited than usual this week. Last night we held our first Mothers Day Celebration for these special mothers at a wonderful restaurant in Guatemala City.
Founder Heather Radu was our guest speaker. The message she shared really touched the mothers. “It takes special people to change diapers, bathe five three-year-olds at once, help kids with their homework, and fold mountains of laundry,” she said.
Heather also announced plans to turn the backyard into a giant playground area. Everyone was so excited at the news and we all lingered over the plans as they were passed around the room.
Our special mothers really appreciated the night out. They dressed to the nines and were treated like royalty.
“I feel like I’m a little girl on this day,” says Mahaly Lemus. “I feel so special. I often feel like I’m always serving everybody, and on this day someone else serves me. I really enjoy what happens.”
Having others wait on her makes Diana Chanchavac feel special, too.
“That shows me they care for me and like my work,” Diana says. “It means they are thinking of me. On this day we can just relax. Another reason it is so special for me is because I don’t have any kids of my own. So it’s special for me that Heather gives me a day of celebration, as if the children I take care of at Dorie’s Promise are like my own. I love my kids.”
“I really like the food—it tastes wonderful,” says Ismelda Samale, who particularly enjoyed last year’s festivities at a park and playing with water balloons. “Also, just spending time together as Special Moms makes me feel closer to this wonderful community that I am part of!”
Adoptive parent Paul Kvinta has developed bonds with the Special Moms.
A resident of Texas, he moved to Guatemala last November to be close to his daughter, Marcela. Paul expects to soon take her back to the U.S. Although a handful of the children have adoptive parents waiting, for most the Special Moms are the only mothers they will ever know, he says.
“Since I moved here Momma Nico has told me more than once, ‘Pablo, we will be glad when Marcela can join you in America, but it will be very sad for us. I have raised Marcela since she was born. It is difficult for us to see these children go,’” Paul says. “Nico and the other mothers feel this way because they care so much for these children.”
Indeed they do, which is why we like to celebrate them and all they do for Dorie’s Promise. Remember on Mother’s Day to thank your mom for what she has meant to your life.