Illocos Norte, Philippines - 11/11/2016
In the US we’re fortunate to have billions of gallons of clean water delivered daily to our homes, then piped away when we’re done. In most undeveloped countries, this is not the case. Through our ongoing work with orphanages on the island of Luzon, we found Shekinah Home, a rural orphanage outside of the town of Dingras, located at the northern edge of the island. The children at this home drink unfiltered water from a small creek nearby.
Drinking straight ground water or city water there is a very, very bad idea for visitors. It is wise for visitors or tourists even to avoid brushing their teeth with it. Filtered water is a high priority for locals too. Unfortunately, not everyone has access to or can afford safe water there.
The risks associated with drinking unclean water in the Philippines are not pretty; they include Amoebiasis, Cholera, and Typhoid Fever, just to name a few.
Amoebiasis is caused by a parasite and is found in water with fecal contamination. It causes weight loss, watery and sometimes bloody stool and abdominal pain. Cholera infects the digestive system and causes vomiting, watery stools and severe dehydration, among other symptoms. Cholera can be fatal given its incubation period of only two hours to five days. In fact, there are up to 120,000 cholera-related deaths every year according to the World Health Organization. Also caused by bacteria, typhoid fever is characterized by symptoms such as consistently high fever, weakness, diarrhea, and anorexia. Without prompt treatment, typhoid fever can affect many organs in the body, leading to serious complications or death.
To address the need of the children at Shekinah Home and many impoverished families in that area, we set out to help a good-hearted, local, young women establish Compassion Springs Water Station. This water filtration site will supply the orphanage (which is just across a rice field from the water station) with free, safe water on a daily basis; it will also set up programs for struggling families so they will be able to afford to have a consistent supply of purified water.
Clean water is the most basic form of humanitarian aid, of which the importance of is not always realized. We know that the disease preventative value of having clean water is a vital part of our mission there, and is key in maintaining good quality of life for the disadvantaged children and families we work with.
Next time you turn on the tap for a drink or for cooking or even giving your baby a bath, please remember to say a little prayer of thanks for our safe water. Keep in mind those who struggle to find clean water for themselves and their families on a daily basis. With your help, we will be providing gallons of clean, safe drinking water to hundreds of families, even if they don’t have the means to be able to afford it. Safe water shouldn’t be a luxury, and now it will become a reality for many.
Update at Destiny's Promise
Manila, Philippines - 11/05/2016
This past June, we purchased a new motorcycle for Destiny’s Promise Home for Children. Now, after it has been broken in and with more donated funds in hand, we were able to complete the mission by having the sidecar installed!
Sherry, the caregivers and especially the children are excited and extremely thankful for this! Destiny’s Promise will now be far more efficient in continuing their mission in nurturing, providing for, and finding loving homes for these children. We are very impressed with the work being done here and we look forward to seeing many more of their children united with permanent, loving families!
Reign's Treatment for Dengue Fever
Illocos Sur, Philippines - 09/16/2016
Eleven-year-old Reign Vivit is recovering from her second bout of Dengue Fever in the past year. Dengue Fever can be deadly if it isn’t treated with medication. Reign had to be admitted to the hospital last week for treatment. Hospitals in the Philippines don’t allow the patient to leave until they have paid their bill. This can be very challenging for families from rural areas or with low incomes to come up with hundreds of dollars at once. Reign’s parents, Rommel & Ellen, are some of our contacts in the north that are dedicated to working full time with youth groups and young Sunday school children. We were able to help Reign’s parents and cover her treatment and now she is back home recovering well.
Thank you for your continued support helping children like Reign and her family stay healthy and productive.
Definition of Dengue Fever:Dengue fever is a mosquito-borne tropical disease caused by the dengue virus. Symptoms typically begin three to fourteen days after infection. This may include a high fever, headache, vomiting, muscle and joint pains, and a characteristic skin rash. Recovery generally takes less than two to seven days. In a small proportion of cases, the disease develops into the life-threatening dengue hemorrhagic fever, resulting in bleeding, low levels of blood platelets and blood plasma leakage, or into dengue shock syndrome, where dangerously low blood pressure occurs.
Dengue is spread by several species of mosquito of the Aedes type, principally A. aegypti. The virus has five different types; infection with one type usually gives lifelong immunity to that type, but only short-term immunity to the others. Subsequent infection with a different type increases the risk of severe complications. A number of tests are available to confirm the diagnosis including detecting antibodies to the virus or its RNA.
Prevention is by reducing mosquito habitat and limiting exposure to bites. This may be done by getting rid of or covering standing water and wearing clothing that covers much of the body. Treatment of acute dengue is supportive and includes giving fluid either by mouth or intravenously for mild or moderate disease. For more severe cases blood transfusion may be required. About half a million people require admission to hospital a year. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen should not be used.
Dengue has become a global problem since the Second World War and is common in more than 110 countries. Each year between 50 and 528 million people are infected and approximately 10,000 to 20,000 die. The earliest descriptions of an outbreak date from 1779. Its viral cause and spread were understood by the early 20th century. Apart from eliminating the mosquitoes, work is ongoing for medication targeted directly at the virus.
Reach Out and Care Wheels
Kosovo - 2016
Mobility is something most of us take for granted. Even if our mobility is limited by the necessity of crutches or a wheelchair, we are still able to get around and not be limited by most places we can go and things we can do. This is due to infrastructure, medical advances and, when it comes down to it, opportunities that come standard in the United States.
Unfortunately, mobility in other countries, especially developing countries, isn’t always so easy to come by. There are 10 to 20 million children in most countries that require a wheelchair. These are children with moderate to severe physical and/or mental disabilities. These are children born into families with limited resources, born into countries not equipped to accommodate these kinds of special needs and born into a time when opportunity is abundant, but can also be difficult or impossible to obtain.
This is where ROC Wheels comes in. ROC, or Reach Out & Care, based in Bozeman, MT, has dedicated its talents and resources to providing as many children with the equipment they need to be able to thrive for the first time in their lives. These children are specially fitted with a chair that meets their specific needs. Each chair is designed to grow with the child and the best part for those living in developing countries is, they are very simple to maintain and, if the need should arise, repair.
ROC Wheels unique chairs are designed to be fully functional in a non-wheelchair accessible environment. These chairs can be easily self-propelled or pushed by someone. The design is similar to a jogging stroller, easy to maneuver and durable. These chairs are giving families the freedom of mobility for the first time in the child’s life and giving the child hope for their future.
This is why Bird of Pray Foundation is working with ROC Wheels and Direct Connect Humanitarian Aid to bring 60 specially equipped chairs to Kosovo this summer. The ultimate goal is to make HandiKos self-sufficient in building and distributing these chairs in their own area instead of relying on the United States to send them. This will accomplish two goals; Kosovo will be more independent when it comes to fulfilling their medical needs and ROC Wheels, DCHA and BoP Foundation will be able to distribute their time and resources to other countries in desperate need.
Seeing the hope spring up in a child’s eyes when they are given the opportunity to thrive and seeing the gratitude on the faces of the families and caregivers when they are given mobility for the first time is priceless. There are many ways to help with the efforts in providing mobility to these children and adults, from financial gifts, volunteering, assembling chairs and/or taking trips to distribute them. If you are interesting in participating in any of these, please contact us.
Belarus Children Shelters
Minsk, Belarus - 2016
We are currently working with two children’s shelters in Belarus. Belarus is one of the poorest European countries, having an average monthly salary of $200 USD with the cost of living being almost as expensive as any western country.
Professional workers, like doctors or teachers, typically earn the same or less than general shop assistants or laborers. One of our contacts there, a shuttle/taxi driver, gave up his practice as an attorney years ago because of this. Prices for goods such as milk and bread and some other “essential products” are regulated by the state, so they remain cheap and public transportation in Belarus is also very cheap, however, most other things are disproportionately expensive compared to salaries.
While it is popular in the United States to grow organic food in your own garden, it is a necessity for many in Belarus. People work hard because they know that they will not be able to afford to buy groceries in winter. Rather than going on holiday or relaxing on the weekends, many go out of town to work in a family garden.
With poverty like this coupled with a popular atheistic worldview, many people are in a depressed state of mind, some of whom find themselves addicted to drugs or alcohol and likewise neglect or abuse their families, which, eventually, results in a temporary or permanent loss of custody of their children. If they can’t be rehabilitated within a certain amout of time this loss is permanent. Almost every single case at these children’s shelters is because of neglect due to an alcoholic parent.
Despite all of the negative things going on there we were very encouraged to find some of the most kind-hearted, hospitable and selfless people we’ve ever encountered. We were told more than once that people there will literally eat only bread or starve for a week so they can “cook up a storm” for their dear guests. After having been there and being fed and taken care of the way we were by so many people, I believe it.
These shelters do an excellent job by giving children love and stability in their uncertain lives. With little help from the state they rely on caring individuals and organizations to maintain the level of care they currently provide. We are pleased to support these kids and to assist in the good works being done there.
We also met with a few local organizations to talk about preventing child labor/sex trafficking, checked up on a refugee family from the Ukraine that our partner organization, Direct Connect, helped in the past, visited with a lady who helps struggling families get back on their feet, assisted a drug and alcohol work therapy shelter and had the opportunity to work with Olga, a wonderful lady who is involved with the shelters we’re involved with plus fosters older orphans who never got adopted. She provides flats (apartments) for them and creates structure to help them be successful in society and by just doing everything a loving parent would do. We also purchased some school supplies for a wonderful lady called “Momma Nina”. She lives in a rural farmhouse and cares for many foster kids and continues to be a mom to them long after they move out.
Manila, Philippines - 2016
Destiny’s Promise Home for Children Foundation started as a vision in the hearts of Manny and Sherry Asprec. Manny, a Filipino, and Sherry, a Michigan native, moved to the Philippines 7 years ago from Nepal with the purpose of starting a self-sufficient orphanage just outside of Manila. Their hearts were burdened with the needs they saw in Manila of the many neglected and abused children, many of whom are living or working on the streets. Their vision was to help keep children from this situation by caring for them at the orphanage until they could be united with a permanent, loving, Christian family.
While in Manila, working with another orphanage, we navigated our way through a maze of squatter villages and shanties on some very busy, interesting roads that brought us to Taytay, where the orphanage is located. We brought some supplies, played with the children, and sat down with Sherry to discuss what we could do to assist them in becoming more efficient.
As we were talking, one of the staff members popped in and asked him what he thought the biggest need was right now and he replied, “Well, we’ve been needing a tricycle for a long time.” The only vehicle Destiny’s Promise had was a large passenger van which is very impractical for running one or two children around for appointments. This is not only in regards to fuel, but because navigating a large vehicle there takes plenty of skill. They have, I believe, among the worst traffic and road infrastructure in the world. There are hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of vehicles. From large buses to motorbikes, they share the narrow roads every day. The orphanage’s only driver asked for a tricycle. A Filipino tricycle is a motorbike with a sidecar attached. These can transport up to 6 people in a much more cost effective way than a large van. With a tricycle, the other staff members can take kids to school or appointments, saving time and expense.
So we started out on our mission to find a good deal on a motorcycle. Then, we needed to find a place that fabricates sidecars and welds them onto motorcycles. Our local friends were invaluable in this endeavor because they knew where to find the good deals and how to negotiate a good price. After visiting with a Kawasaki manufacturer in Alabang, and talking to a couple of dealers, we settled on a new, 175cc Kawasaki Barako for 82,500 pesos ($1,789.20 USD). The manufacturer highly recommended putting 3k miles on it before installing a sidecar. As an unfortunate result, the sidecar installation will have to wait until later this year.
Sherry and her caregivers are very grateful for the support from Montana and will now be more efficient in continuing their mission in nurturing, providing for, and finding loving homes for these children. We’re excited to give them more assistance in the future. Helping this orphanage by simply playing and reading with the children, in addition to snuggling the babies, was definitely time, energy, and resources well spent.
Luzon, Philippines - 2016
Rehoboth Children’s Home is an orphanage in the mountains east of Manila. What we discovered there surprised all of us. This orphanage, directed by a couple from Bozeman, MT, is absolutely beautiful. They have a baby home, school, play ground, two houses for older children, a full garden, farm animals, and a community medical clinic with a birth center. This unique orphanage can house up to 48 children. Due to some much needed renovations going on, only one of the older kid homes is operational, so they can only accommodate about 25 kids as of right now.
The home is dedicated to growing their own organic food. This is for a few reasons. 1. Growing their own food year round really helps keep the food budget low. 2. They can ensure their kids get lots of organic, fresh food. 3. The older kids can help with the growing and, in the process, can learn valuable skills in farming and hard work.
In addition to helping raise money for the roofing project, we took one of the directors to a grocery store and filled a couple of carts with diapers, formula, soap, and fluoride free toothpaste for the kids. While at the store, we had the opportunity to meet with some reps for the toothpaste and are currently in negotiations to get wholesale and bulk pricing for Rehoboth and couple of the other orphanages in the Philippines.
We really enjoyed being able to assist the staff and interact with the children at Rehoboth. If you’re interested in learning more about this home or adoption opportunities, please contact Craig and Jan Drunkenmiller at the Sacred Portions office in Bozeman, MT.
“Helping the Helpers”, that’s our approach here at the Bird of Pray Foundation. Finding helpers like those at Sacred Portions and the Rehoboth Children’s home in the mountains outside of Manila, Philippines is exactly what our organization is all about.
Rehoboth children’s home is just that, a loving home, and they have a long track record of doing far more than just providing shelter for abandoned children. These children are well cared for, played with, educated, and loved. The older children are involved with youth programs, summer programs and school. There is a medical clinic on site and they have an adorable and functional baby home.
This orphanage can care for up to 50 children at a time. They have a wonderful baby home set up for infants and toddlers age 0-3 years, plus they are able to accommodate 24 older children. Being a placement agency as well as Hague accredited, they are able to find forever families for the children they care for.
BOPF has chosen to assist Sacred Portions and Rehoboth with some urgent and pressing needs. Three of their buildings are in desperate need of new roofs.
The rainy season in their area begins in mid June and having new roofs on the houses would make a huge difference. Not only will it ensure the children stay dry through the rainy season, it will also prevent further damage to the interior of the buildings. Due to age, rust, rot, and termites, these roofs are in a desperate state. Also, because of the roof issues, the home is only able to operate at about half of its capacity. Children are being turned away because the home is unable to house them in their current situation. The estimated cost to repair the three roofs is $30,000 US dollars. As of right now only a fraction of these funds have been raised.
The other pressing need is a new van. Filipino roads are not regularly maintained or kept up and this takes a huge toll on vehicles there. Their van is a vital part of keeping the home operable, as it is their one form of transportation for the children in the home. The staff takes the children to their many appointments necessary for adoption. Their current van was purchased new in 2003 and even though it has been well maintained, its days are numbered. The average cost for a new Toyota, 15 passenger van in Manila is $35,000 US dollars.
A team from Bird of Pray Foundation, including myself, will be at Rehoboth in June of 2016. We are very excited to see the progress on the buildings, work with the staff and interact with the children. Our team will be bringing some necessities to them when they go. We are currently waiting for a list of needed supplies. If you are interested in helping with either of these projects or would like to sign up for Sacred Portions newsletter, please e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call Jeff at (406) 839-2999.
Manila, Philippines - 2016
Janna Reboton is a little 6-year-old girl who has very little muscle development in her body. Her mother, Nenita Reboton, holds her throughout most of the day, never getting very far from home. We had the pleasure of meeting both of them, by chance, on a walk near where we were staying.
Wayne Hanson, founder of ROC Wheels (Reach Out & Care) in Bozeman, Montana, is supplying us with one of their rugged and versatile wheelchairs designed specifically for disabled children in developing countries. In September we will be delivering this chair, diagnosing Janna, and providing some treatment.
Meeting Janna and her mom was an unexpected, God-opened door and we feel very privileged to be able to help her and her family. This chair will provide mobility to her family for the first time in years. As Janna grows, having the ability to attend medical appointments and giving her mom the chance to do things for them will be an appreciated relief for their whole family.
When your dad brings wheelchairs to kids around the world, you get to try them out first. Amaris approves!! :) Today we picked up the wheelchair for Janna Reboton, the little 6 year old girl in the Philippines. Wayne Hanson from RocWheels in Bozeman MT poses with my 2 year old daughter, Amaris. In just a couple weeks, Janna will get to be mobile for the first time in her life!