What a Year! And Counting

Wow, time flies… It’s already November! I can almost smell the turkey, see the Christmas lights and watch the ball drop. But we’re not quite done yet!

We’ve been blessed to be having a pretty busy year here at Beacon of Hope.
Thanks to your contributions, we have had a lot going with our usual initiatives and were able to help some new initiatives come to life as well.

Here’s a brief recap of all the exciting things that have taken place throughout the year…

Our Games for Change program in Colombia was benefited by…

  • Repainting the sports complex and reinforcing the facilities in preparation for the rainy season and the flooding it brings
  • New sports equipment was also donated. The kids couldn’t wait to kick around those new soccer balls!
  • The sports complex’s makeover was celebrated with a re-opening event that featured soccer games and dance representations put together by the local schools. The event drew a large crowd from not only the schools, but the rest of the community as well

DSCN7832  update

Also in Colombia…

  • Over 300 sets of school supplies were provided to young students at a preschool  and primary school that both neighbor the sports complex
  • We hosted a fun-filled day at the pre-school that included story-telling and crafts led by a Pre-K teacher from the States. The children were also given children’s books, crayons, glue and other craft supplies to continue expressing their creativity and stimulating their young minds
  • We’re providing Juan Carlos, whose smile you may remember, with goods essential to his health, hygiene and comfort as he continues pushing to recover from his delicate medical condition

DSC_0576 DSC_0589

Meanwhile, as part of our Climb for the Future program in Haiti…

  • 2 new classrooms were built to house the 6th grade, which in addition to the 2 classrooms we built last year for the 5th grade, makes the school a full primary school with 250 kids!
  • All the schoolchildren were also provided with the books and school supplies needed to kick off the school year on the right foot and be prepared for class
  • A playground was also donated for the kids to enjoy and use to exercise. Want to make sure there are healthy bodies to accompany those bright minds

buildig 6 classroom 4

Our Happy Homes program in Nicaragua was expanded by… 

  • Having 10 latrines donated, rounding out the tail end of the initiative of having one outhouse for each of the program’s 25 homes. All new homes will include outhouses from the start
  • We are in the midst of providing showers to all 25 homes to further promote good hygiene in a dignified way. All new homes donated through this program will also include showers

DSCN7337DSCN7332

Our NEW educational initiative in Nicaragua is…

  • A scholarship program available to students from the Happy Homes program. It provides full access to higher education by covering education-related expenses, including a stipend to help with other expenses, and incorporating a variety of empowerment workshops
    • 2 of the students are in university studying engineering and nursing
    • 3 of the students are enrolled in vocational training seeking computing certifications
  • In addition to the scholarships, all school-going children from the 25 families received school supplies and all families participated in education-focused workshops

Thank you so much for your continued support that has made all of this possible. Please continue to support and join us on this beautiful journey. Stay tuned for what the rest of the year and next year have in store!

thank you

The Best Christmas Gift

Having barely survived the end of the fall semester, my last semester of grad school, I was just happy to get what rest I could and live to work another day. It was just a few days before Christmas, but it might as well have been the middle of June as far I was concerned. I was as far from the Christmas spirit as I had ever been.

On the evening of December 19th, while leaning my head against the airplane window, the reality of what the next few days had in store started to sink in. I realized how lucky I was to be a part of what we were doing. We were on our way to Nicaragua to inaugurate the four homes we were providing to four families through our Happy Homes Project… And just in time for Christmas!

A new home and a new beginning

A new home and a new beginning

The next few days we spent with these four families in Villa Betania were simply AMAZING. The families were extremely thankful to be receiving these homes and goods, particularly for the sake of their children. I was equally thankful. Thankful for the donations that made this possible and for being able to see this through, but also just to be able to be with these great people and share with them. I felt more at home there than I do in my own apartment!

Here are not only families coming together to survive and strive for better days, but an entire community standing and striving together. Everybody plays his or her part in contributing to the greater good of the family, of the community. From the middle schooler who works an afterschool and weekend job to help his mom pay for her cancer treatment, to the community leaders who work tirelessly with us so that these families can receive these homes.

This is what Christmas is about. This is what life is about! We often get so caught up in our own lives and problems that we forget to look around, reach out to others, and keep in mind what really matters.

Little brother was quick to make use of his new bed

Little brother was quick to make use of his new bed

These families do not have much as far as material possessions go, but they live in abundance. Abundance of a sense of community, of camaraderie, of determination, of optimism, of joy, of compassion, of love. They shared these abundances with me and that seemed to dwarf everything we had been able to provide them with.

I left not wanting to leave, but I knew my family would be less-than-thrilled by my empty seat at the table on Christmas. I came back, but came back revitalized and with a renewed focus on the things that really matter. These families had more of an impact on me than they will ever know. This year I ended up having one of the best Christmases I’ve ever had, and in large part I owe that to these four families and Villa Betania.

In short, the best Christmas gift I got this year… I got through giving.