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Posts Tagged ‘volunteers’

English Tutor Helps Children Improve Their Language Skills

Thursday, June 22nd, 2017

Learning English at Dorie's Promise

By Alejandra Diaz –

Several of our older students who are receiving tutoring in English from Paul Stickland.Early last year we included a blog on our website about our older students who are receiving tutoring in English from Paul Stickland, an Englishman who has been living in Guatemala for eight years.

I am happy to report that Paul is still coming twice a week, and the classes are proving quite beneficial to our children.

We have around a dozen students taking the class; some days it is more and some days less, depending on their school schedules and other activities.

To show the progress they are making, students in the class are getting good grades at school. They ask their teachers more questions, and feel more confident about speaking English with visiting mission team members. This confidence stems from an increased vocabulary, helping them with conversation.

Paul lives close to Dorie’s Promise and saw our children walking in the park many times. Finally, he decided to come here to offer his help teaching English.

Before retiring, he worked as a banker, and his office supported three charities for children. Each time Paul visited them, he met bright and happy children, and saw how important it is for children to have a loving home and good education.

“I would always come away full of admiration for the people who helped them,” he recalls. “The experience here has been incredibly rewarding. The children are always keen to learn, and their progress has been truly remarkable.”

We deeply appreciate Paul’s volunteering to help us with these classes.Not only does he try to make the classes fun by asking silly questions to help students practice their English, Paul has warmed up to them. Last December, he organized a nice Christmas party for the children, and sometimes has brought donations for them.

Sometimes Paul will help them with a special presentation they need to make at school and give them a chance to practice it before the class. Learning to speak English has helped considerably, and when they have a question, they will bring their school books and ask Mr. Stickland about it.

Besides their improved ability to carry on conversations with visiting missionaries, the kids are learning not to be shy. They realize if they want to learn English they need to practice and take the risk of making mistakes.

We deeply appreciate Paul’s volunteering to help us with these classes. They are a great help because they offer our children a great education without having to invest our limited resources.

The English classes are a symbol of the help each and every volunteer missionary makes to FCI’s ministry. Your efforts are appreciated and stretch our resources much further than they would go without your help.

The Children of Dorie’s Promise Get A Boost in English

Wednesday, February 24th, 2016

Paul Stickland teaching English to the children of Dorie's Promise.

Some of the Dorie's Promise students with Paul.There are always people willing to help and spend time with our children. Recently, our older ones are receiving English classes from Paul Stickland — an Englishman who has been living in Guatemala for seven years.

He heard of Dorie’s Promise several years ago after occasionally seeing the children being taken for walks and playing games. He often wished he could do something to help them — but it only became possible last year once he retired and could finally commit some of his time.

He visited Dorie’s Promise and offered to give the children English conversation classes.

Paul says: “Before retirement, I worked as a banker, and my office supported three charities for children. Each time I visited them I would meet children who were bright and happy, and see how important it is to have a loving home and a good education. I would always come away full of admiration for the people who helped them.

“I give English conversation classes on Tuesday and Thursday afternoons to different groups of children, depending on their levels of proficiency and their ages. The experience has been incredibly rewarding, as they are always very keen to learn, and their progress has been truly remarkable.

Playing a game to reenforce the lesson.“I always try to make the classes fun, so we don’t study English grammar, and I don’t set homework. In fact, sometimes in order to get the children to practice their English, I ask them silly questions and we all laugh. For example, when talking about pets and animals, I have asked them if they would prefer to have a dog, a cat, an elephant, a giraffe, a lion, a tiger — and they respond very well.”

Ana Lucia says: “I am so excited to learn English; I like the language so much, and I will learn how to communicate with the missioners.”

Abraham Cabrera says: “Paul’s class is funny. I like it because I don’t get bored.”

“For me,” Paul explains, “it is so gratifying to hear their advancement in English and how they show interest in learning new things every day. I appreciate the opportunity to teach them and be part of their lives.

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.

New Look of Rooms Delight the Children of Dorie’s Promise

Wednesday, June 11th, 2014

Maria check out her new room at Dorie's Promise Guatemala

The children gather for aribbon cutting cermony for their newly decorated rooms.Love has never been lacking at Dorie’s Promise Guatemala. The children, the special moms, and the rest of the staff all share a deep bond with one another. This is what has made Dorie’s Promise one of the best places for an orphaned child to grow up in Guatemala.

One of the amazing things about love is that the more you give, the bigger it gets. And when your love grows like the love at Dorie’s Promise has, you find creative ways to show it! That is exactly what happened when Heather, Naomi, and others began to notice a small problem around the orphanage.

When Dorie’s Promise Guatemala opened, each room was decorated with attention and love. But fourteen years and 650 children later, the children’s’ rooms were beginning to look old and tired. The décor was simply worn out. Additionally, many of the children had come to the orphanage as toddlers and had outgrown their old beds!

“We have always wanted to have a home that represented what we would give our own kids,” Heather said. Since that was becoming harder and harder with the older decorations, a major overhaul was in order. Over the next year the Dorie’s Promise team planned, designed, and bought new items for each of the Several of the staff and volunteers in the new boys cars themed room.children’s rooms. Several generous donors showed their love by covering the cost of the entire project, and mission teams were able to participate by bringing the bedding, carpet, and decorations with them as they traveled to Guatemala.

Each bedroom was decorated according to a theme inspired by the kids who would soon fill the bunks inside. The older girls received a beautiful room filled with bright colors and inspirational wall decorations. The older boys, on the other hand, were given a pirate-themed room, which perfectly matched their spirit of fun and energy.

Once the new decorations arrived, it was time for the team to get to work.

The excited children left their rooms and slept in the guest quarters while everything was being done (though many of them could not resist trying take a peek at their new rooms). Still, the wait was worth it. Boy pirate themed bedroom at Dorie's PromiseNothing compared to the unveiling of their new rooms. The children joyfully inspected every detail as they settled into their new rooms, quite pleased with the new look.

Not only were the children pleased, but the adults who worked on the project were pleased as well.

“Color and life were brought back to the rooms,” said Heather. “Everything looks as good as it did the day we opened fourteen years ago.”

The rooms truly look just as good as they did back then, but the redecoration project revealed something else: At Dorie’s Promise Guatemala, the love keeps getting bigger.

See the pictures on our Facebook page…


New Playset Video

Tuesday, November 13th, 2012

We had a great team from Connecticut come to Dorie’s Promise and build our new playset for us. Watch it come together from the ground up in this video. The kids love it! We are so blessed to have volunteers and sponsors who give of their time and money to make these things a reality. Thank You!

Summer Mission Trippers were a Blessing

Wednesday, September 12th, 2012


By Pablo Villagran- 

New plants in our backyard, smoother-running vehicles, and better-organized storage areas are signs of the blessings summer mission teams brought to Dorie’s Promise this year.

Sixteen teams visited us between mid-May and the end of August, ranging from a single visitor from Virginia to a 22-member group from Indiana.

Besides new plants, teams also helped clean and upgrade our garden. One group of volunteers handled vehicle repairs and maintenance, while others organized storage areas. A number of teams painted the houses on our property and donated money to help renovate our school room (what an answer to prayer!).


These missionaries also fanned out into the community, helping those in need while boosting our standing with local residents. Their work included:

  • Installing several pilas (water stations) in the ghetto.
  • Pouring cement floors in four houses
  • Building three homes.
  • Delivering many donations to poor communities in Guatemala City.

These projects also touched those who participated in them. Brian Tunsall of Velsano, Pennsylvania, says his heart was enlarged by serving here.

“The relationships I gained with the staff and children are imprinted on my heart,” says Tunsall, pastor of Believers Fellowship Church. “It was a pleasure to partner with the staff to see God’s kingdom and love come upon the treasured children there.”

A church member called it an honor to serve beside those who may not be famous, but are known by the King of Kings.

“My trip to Guatemala stirred an innate desire for God’s presence to touch every life and soul that I come in contact with,” says Jill Noelle Smith “I saw the power of the Gospel manifest itself in the simplest terms.”

Such comments illustrate another reality—the mission groups showed an impressive spiritual maturity.

Trinity Chapel Mission team

They brought the Word into daily situations, were receptive to receiving God’s direction in various situations, and demonstrated sensitivity to His presence.

Not surprisingly, these groups affected our kids and staff members in many positive ways. They spent valuable time and considerable sums of money to come to Guatemala to spend time with our children. They had a tangible impact on the staff by demonstrating love to our kids, making financial donations, and helping further our mission.

Each group that comes to Dorie’s Promise brings with them God’s presence. This intangible, but very felt love helps to heal and fill the children, making every trip special.

Seeing the realities of life here and stepping out of normal, daily routines helps volunteers appreciate what matters most in life. Many have told us that a trip here is worth it because they are not just spending money—they are investing it in the forgotten children of Guatemala.

If you want to know more about a mission trip to Dorie's Promise, we have everything you need to know on our mission trip pages.


A Servants Heart

Wednesday, August 22nd, 2012

Forever Changed International

By Pablo Villagran-

One of the familiar faces to our mission team is a resident of the ghetto in Guatemala City who has been helping arrange mission team projects there for more than two years.

Dona Juanita became connected to Dorie’s Promise through our driver, Abel, who grew up in the same community.

Forever Changed InternationalAt the time, we were looking for a community that we could help and Dona loved the idea of receiving help from our teams. From the start, DP’s relationship with Dona has been a two-way street and has been steadily growing by the day ever since.

Not only does she work with our mission coordinator to plan each project, but this mother of eight also interacts with each mission team, welcoming them at the ghetto gate with a big smile.

Dona then directs them to the houses of the families (that she knows better than we do) that need assistance. She has helped our teams build a new home, put in cement flooring, and many other improvements to the community.

In addition to repairs and renovations, our teams prays with the families they have spent time with. After the work is complete, Dona usually organizes a soccer game for the older children and brings in a piñata for the younger ones. She even brings the mission groups tostados with guacamole as a way to say, “Thank you” after each project. 

We are delighted at the way this relationship has developed.  Dona has proven to be the perfect connection between our teams and the community as everyone who meets her comes to love and respect her.

Thanks to her, activities are administered and completed in a timely fashion. Her help not only makes it safer for our mission teams, but also enables us to connect with residents because of the trust she has built in the community.

Forever Changed InternationalRecently, Joanna Artig, a resident of Circles Pines, Minnesota, came with a group from St. Joseph’s church in Lino Lakes to Dorie’s Promise. She told us that Dona had not only helped make her group’s visit smooth, but that Dona had an impact on the entire team.

“Just hearing her story and learning that she helps everyone before she helps herself, made me understand how deserving she is of everything positive in life,” Joanna says. “Her story brought our whole group to tears. She helped us all learn to be humble and gracious.”

Beth Bach, a member of Willow Creek Community Church in suburban Chicago, says her 16-member team was impressed with how they never felt unsafe or threatened in any way while at the ghetto.

“Dona has a heart of gold,” Bach says. “It’s obvious that she has been given a gift to shepherd others.”

Through Dona’s involvement, mission team members feel safer, get to meet and know a member of the ghetto community, and enjoy the gift of getting to know Dona’s life story.  She has been not only a great asset to Dorie’s Promise, but has also become a true friend along the way. 

This is the story of Dorie’s Promise: believers from across the world coming together to bring their unique gifts and talents to better the lives of others in the name of the Lord.

Artistic Expressions

Wednesday, May 30th, 2012

By Pablo Villigran-

The preschoolers at Dorie’s Promise are more talented artistically today, thanks to the help of five students from Universidad del ISTMO in Guatemala City.

The students came each Thursday for over two months, concluding their volunteer service in late April.

Working primarily with three and four-year-olds, they handled such activities as making necklaces with straws, drawing with tempura, finger painting, painting such materials as macaroni and learning how to use scissors.

One of the male volunteers spent time at the boys table, adding some valuable interaction with male figures to their lives.

Teacher Claudia Roncal says incorporating a taste for art is best done at an early age, when kids find it easier to assimilate those lessons.

“The college students led small activities that allowed the children their first contact with expressions of art,” she says. “Implementing this kind of activity will contribute to children’s emotional, motor and artistic development.”

In addition, the volunteers worked with 14-year-old Mirna to help reinforce her math lessons.

After concluding their classroom sessions, the students sometimes helped in the kitchen, mostly cleaning and washing dishes.

Not only did their service mean a lot to the children, Claudia says the kids made a great impact on their tutors.

“They were sensitized to the emotional needs of the children,” she says. “When one of our children left Dorie’s Promise, they understood better that we do all we can while the kids are here to prepare them for their new family.”

And, by spending time in the classroom, the university students got a better understanding of how hard the departure of a child is on everyone else, she says.

This isn’t the first university group to visit Dorie’s Promise. Director Alejandra Diaz says no matter where these students help, there is always much work to be done, so having extra hands is a blessing.

Like everyone who comes here, she says the students noticed that the minute they walked through the doors they could feel something different.

“There is a certain kind of peace or energy that you cannot explain,” Alejandra says. “For me, this is God’s presence. He is blessing everything we do and every one. It doesn’t matter where they are or what they are doing.

“Even if they aren’t with the kids they can feel that. I believe that by being here and knowing that they are helping us that this brings a blessing to their lives.”

Although it was Claudia’s first experience working with college students, she hopes to see more of this kind of interaction in the future. She says the preschoolers enjoyed the activities and miss their volunteer instructors.

“When well organized and structured, I think volunteer work in the preschool program can contribute greatly to children’s development,” Claudia says.

Volunteers Mean We Don’t Do It Alone

Friday, April 20th, 2012

By Alejandra Diaz-
Last week I wrote about the largest mission team to ever visit Dorie’s Promise. While it is exciting to see this increase, we are blessed by local volunteers like Omar David.
Omar David is a native of Guatemala who later moved to Costa Rica after his father died. His mother remarried an Italian American who worked for the Foreign Service.
Finally, the family relocated to Maryland, where Omar went to junior and senior high school. After earning degrees in business administration and economics at the University of Maryland, he returned to Guatemala in 1984.
“I try to help in any way I can,” said Omar, who visits every Thursday to deliver food and other supplies. “It feels almost selfish to me because I get much more out of the love the kids give me than I could ever give to them.”
He first heard about the orphanage from our medical director, Dr. Francisco Castro, whom he met on the tennis court. Several months later, Omar’s niece contacted him, asking where she could come and help. Dr. Castro offered her the chance to work at the orphanage.
A year later, Dr. Castro visited Omar’s sporting goods distributorship to make a purchase.
When Omar asked if there was anything he could do to help Dorie’s Promise, Dr. Castro replied that he was short on vaccines for the children and caretakers.
“From that moment on, I started calling associates and friends,” Omar recalls. “I was amazed at how many of them wanted to help, but just did not know how they could do so.”
Although his primary personal objective is raising funds for vaccines, medical supplies and other needed medications, Omar took his involvement a step further.
Last October, he started coming on Thursday with donations, including a Thanksgiving dinner in November. Instead of turkey Omar and his son brought ham and all the trimmings, plus cake and pie.
Each week Omar delivers donations from friends and fellow church members— everything from toys and clothing to milk and food. His friend, Luis Ayala, offers produce each week from his farm, such as plantains, bananas, lemons and tomatoes.
Omar is working to arrange a trip for the children to the tennis club where he is a member for an exhibition game featuring players sponsored by a sporting goods manufacturer. Plans include a tennis clinic for the kids.
“In addition, my congregation has been looking for outreach programs,” said Omar, who belongs to an Episcopal church. “I hope to get them involved in either raising more funds for medicines, or helping with the outreach program the orphanage has with the dump.”
Omar isn’t alone. We have students and others who provide everything from companionship to dental services. All are serving God as they help us fulfill our mission to act as His hands, feet and arms to Guatemala’s needy children.

Student Filmmaker Volunteers Time & Talents

Wednesday, November 30th, 2011

By Desi Stephens-

One reason Dorie’s Promise is able to continue providing services to the children of Guatemala is the efforts of numerous mission groups and volunteers who selflessly give of their time and talents.

Those volunteers include Pablo Villagran, a student in telecommunications at Universidad Rafael Landivar, who handles media production for us.

With an eye on one day becoming a filmmaker, he loves capturing the kids on video when they don’t know he’s shooting. Pablo says that leaves them feeling free to play and have fun.

“When I was a kid, I used to watch any kind of movies,” says Pablo, age 20. “My dad bought a camera when I was 14 and I loved it. I felt that shooting and taking pictures was my talent. After that, I learned how to edit them.”

Pablo is not a newcomer to Dorie’s Promise. He first came here at 14 because founder Heather Radu was his neighbor and he became good friends with her son.

After working here during school vacations helping the kids, last July he started shooting video for our “Reach Out Missions” program. Currently he produces sponsorship updates.

“I always wanted to work in a place where I cannot just receive payment and not give anything to help,” he says. “Here at the home I have the opportunity to give love and attention to those kids who need it. And at the same time I’m able to develop my talent.”

It is a joy to work with Pablo, who has been a huge benefit to our office team. His talents in media production make it easier to connect with our supporters in the States. Pablo comes from a busy family. His father is a businessman and his mother works as a housekeeper. He has one brother, who is a chef; and one sister, who just graduated from high school.

Not only has he been able to support FCI with his media knowledge, Pablo loves our children. In doing sponsorship updates, he gets to see firsthand how they are benefiting from being at Dorie’s Promise.

He also gets to watch them grow. And, because he has such a good heart, the kids love him and have reacted positively towards him. We love having the “camera guy” around.

As for Pablo, he especially loves being around the home because of the “special kids” who need extra attention.

“I love to be with them,” he says. “They teach me that I have every reason to be happy and that it doesn’t matter what kind of situation I’m facing. If they are happy with their inability, then why should I worry about life?”