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I am the proud mom of three great kids and I enjoy sharing life with my husband, Dan.
Since Hope for the Nations began in 1994, I have had a front seat from which to watch the organization grow and expand. I had the privilege to serve on the Board of Directors from 2009 to 2013, focusing my efforts on establishing standards for care for our work with children in over 20 countries.
When my youngest child started school in 2008, I returned to school to do my MA in International Studies at Simon Fraser University. My work there opened the door for me to pursue my doctorate at the University of Oxford in the Department of International Development (Queen Elizabeth House).
It has been a great privilege and challenge pursuing research on children and youth in Rwanda.
Over the years, many people have opened doors for me so that I can enjoy the rich life that I have today. Participating in the leadership of Hope for the Nations gives me the opportunity to open doors for other kids all over the world who have enormous potential but need someone like me and you to give them an open door to walk through.
Who has opened doors for you? Who will you open a door for?
Opening the Door (Post fromMarch 2011)
As I write this, I find myself in Pattaya, Thailand, with my 12-year-old son and my father. Pretty cool.
This trip is my first chance to introduce my son to a world that I lived in when I was his age, and it is also his opportunity to see and feel a world that I loved, and that transformed and expanded my understanding of the world we live in.
It was while living in SE Asia as a child that I came to believe in the ability of children to create their own sense of order amidst a life of chaos. I was deeply impressed by the resiliency of children, and I continue to be amazed at their ability to hang on to hope.
I did not grow up with money or influence, but countless people walked with me, encouraged me and opened doors for me because they believed in me and loved me.
The children that HFTN works with have had one door opened for them and they now have safety, a home and education. I invite you to open another door - give them the opportunity for further education.
Funds from this scholarship will send a girl to post-secondary.
Over the past few weeks, a dire emergency has unfolded on the Horn of Africa.
Facing the worst drought in over 60 years, the people of Somalia are experiencing massive crop and livestock failures, rapidly diminishing access to drinking water and the chaos associated with internal displacement and civil strife. The United Nations has declared a famine in Somalia, a term reserved for only the most desperate food shortages.
Refugee camps on the borders of Somalia are filling up at rates unseen in decades. The people arriving are emaciated, having trekked for weeks through the sweltering heat of the African desert.
The United Nations has estimated that 10 million people now face the prospect of starvation, with reports of tens of thousands already dead.
The last famine in Somalia in 1991-1993 resulted in a 500,000 deaths. We now face a disaster potentially worse in scale than the earthquake Haiti, or even the 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami.Emergency Food Convoy into Somalia
The Global Enrichment Foundation, The African Future and Hope for the Nations are working on a rapid response to this situation.
Trucks full of emergency food aid will leave from Nairobi, Kenya for Dhoobley, Somalia on July 30, 2011 with a goal of feeding 50,000 people. The food baskets will reach Somalis who are walking to the refugee camps in Kenya, giving them sustenance to complete the journey. This will be one of the first major food deliveries into the area since the declaration of the famine.
The cost of the convoy is $300,000 USD.
Click here to Donate Now
Tax receipts are available for all donations in the United States and Canada.
The Canadian government will match all giving to this project, but they will channel their matching funds through CIDA.
Visiting the soldiers' 'village'
Although I am a director for HFTN, I did not know what to expect when we heard that we were going to a “soldier village” near Poipet, Cambodia. My 12-year old son and I imagined a military training camp, but even my MA in International Development didn't prepare me for what we visited.
To get there, we did some serious 4x4’ing – in the wet season it would have been nearly impossible terrain, but it was the dry season, so the earth was cracked and dusty with deep ruts. There was no road. Scrub bush and cacti dotted the landscape, but there were few trees; most were cut down during the war, or removed to de-mine the area (though there are still land-mines).
When we arrived at the 'village', there was only one hut in sight. The other huts were hidden away in the scrub bush at the base of a nearby hill. Mango trees and camo-nets camouflaged military tanks that sat ready to lumber into active duty.
The land is desolate. There is no water save the new pump that HFTN just installed. The soldiers want to work, but they make a mere $20/month – an amount so small they can barely feed their families. Although it is a blessing to have peace in the land, it does not come with a paycheck, so soldiers struggle with having nothing to invest.
Over the coming months, 10,000 more people - military families – will move into this area. As we scanned the landscape, our hearts were heavy. How would the children live? How could they learn? What would they possibly eat and drink?The soldiers have invited HFTN to help their families and we are eager to do that. Since our visit in March, HFTN has installed one more well so they can now plant gardens. We would also like to provide a Mat School for the children, a safe-house, and finances to start simple micro-enterprises, which they are eager to do.
We invite you to learn more and join us by making this vision a reality ~ Together we can start the process of change and thereby transform the lives of Cambodian children.
Our sponsor kids
One of the highlights of my trip with Aidan was to finally meet 2 of the kids that our family supports through the child sponsorship program.
At home every night - for 8 years now - I pray with my own girls for these girls, that they will be safe and grow up to be strong and healthy! It is amazing to me how our commitment to support these girls has changed us. What a privilege it is to be a part of these girl' lives!
Mercy Centre's new home
I have just visited Fred & Diane who began the Mercy Centre in Pattaya, Thailand. We were so encouraged to see the love that they and their staff have for the children.
They hope to move into their new home in May. It will be a great change for them as it is a little out of the city, very green and walking distance to the most beautiful public school I have seen on my trip so far! The kids will have lots of space to run and play in the fresh air.
Fred & Diane are enjoying their Thai retirement as much-loved 'grandparents' to dozens. I didn't see any golf clubs lying around, but I think they are pretty happy with their work caring for the children, helping out in the nearby slums and building the local church! Should keep them occupied for a while :)
The beautiful game - and even more beautiful kids!
Written by Dan Pontalti (Champion for Hope Gateway School)
In a very urban part of East Vancouver, BC, I teach Adult Education with about 50 other teachers at Main Street Education Centre (MSEC). As a staff, we have supported Hope Gateway School in the Sinai slum of Nairobi for the past 5 years.
In February, one of our teachers, Lisa, visited Kenya and Tanzania. While summitting Mt. Kilimanjaro was a major highlight of her trip, spending a few days visiting the children and teachers at Hope Gateway School was an amazing experience for her.
Before Lisa left Canada, we 'passed the hat' around MSEC; part of the money raised went to buying 4 decent soccer balls and a pump (and a big 'thank you' to North America Sports for helping us out with great prices and free shirts!).
Lisa reports that the kids were happy with the school supplies, but the soccer balls were the real hit! Here is Lisa's account of how the kids responded:
The kids did not need any instruction when we handed them the soccer balls. They immediately broke out a game without prompting, running excitedly after the ball. I noticed fairly quickly that the girls were interested in playing but were not quite as aggressive or fast as some of the boys, so I suggested we bring out a second soccer ball for the girls and have two games going on at the same time. That seemed to work better and allowed more kids to engage in the "beautiful game."
Thank you to all of you who helped make this joyful moment happen. If you or your staff would like to help support this amazing school, you can learn more here.
Armed Conflict and Education - UNESCO
From the 2011 UNESCO Report, "The Hidden Crisis: Armed Conflict and Education":
As this new edition of the Education For All (EFA) Global Monitoring Report makes clear, conflict continues to blight the lives of millions of the world’s most vulnerable people. Warfare is also destroying opportunities for education on a scale that is insufficiently recognized. The facts are telling. Over 40% of out-of-school children live in conflict-affected countries. These same countries have some of the largest gender inequalities and lowest literacy levels in the world. I hope that, by turning the spotlight on what has until now been a ‘hidden crisis’ in education, the Report will help galvanize national and international action in four key areas...Read more here.
Lisa is on her way to Kenya!!
No, those are not pancakes, they are 4 soccer balls that Lisa had to cram into her luggage, along with a bunch of stationary and some money that MSEC staff gave to Lisa to bring... Lisa is going to be in Nairobi for 3 or 4 days, (before doing a little climb up Kilamanjaro). We look forward to hearing her stories, and we look forward to more connection with the students/teachers at the school in Sinai!!
UNICEF 'Children and Aids'
UNICEF, NEW YORK, USA, 30 November 2010
Halfway through a 10-year campaign to reverse the spread of AIDS, UNICEF and its partners are making significant progress in preventing mothers from passing the disease onto their children. Read more here: 'Children and AIDS' Fifth Stocktaking Report
Donna B. teaching child care workers
(by Donna Bromley)
I just returned from Kenya after spending 2 weeks in Bungoma and Nairobi training our house-parents, school teachers, principals, social workers and HFTN overseers in an “attachment based” developmental approach to parenting “transplanted” children.
It was encouraging to see that this approach resonated deeply with the natural intuitions of the care-givers. They were up to the challenge of changing their cultural paradigm and they began seeing fruit from this new approach almost immediately.
One precious “deputy principal” of a residential girl’s school began implementing change after the first day of teaching. She is responsible for the discipline of the girls and “canings” were a regular part of the regimen. Having been challenged to look at the “roots” of behavior (to understand where it is coming from rather than just focusing on the behaviour itself), she invited a conversation with some of the girls who were being called in for discipline that day. They were so shocked with her new approach that they all apologized for their behaviour and have been at her side, looking for excuses to be with her ever since. Her comment at the end of the week was, “I have been brought back to the place of being human, the way God intends; to love and care without expecting it back, for the sake of children who haven’t known what it means to be loved.”
Stories are still coming in daily of testimonies of changed lives and the impact on the children. The participants are busy spreading the word throughout their villages and communities and have a heart to transform their nation.
Tomorrow is our second curry lunch cooked with LOVE by the Pontalti fam. (Yep, the kids helped too)
Last time we were fund raising to buy 3 PCs and now they are hooked up and running for the school! Congratulations you guys! I offered to buy the battery pack power supply for them, but they said "thanks, we'd like to buy it ourselves." Fantastic, and evidence that their businesses (bakery and Mopesa cell $ transfer biz) are doing well.
I'd like to throw out 2 challenges to all of you now. First, the school will add on a grade in January and will need to pay a new teacher. Would any of you be willing to up (or start) your monthly contribution by $5-10?
Second, because the school is growing, they need to build 2 more rooms. The curry lunch and any other one-off donations will go towards that. Laz estimates that it will cost $2000 but we're looking into the options.
Last but not least, be sure you subscribe (Become a Friend) to our Main Street Champion page as well as the Sinai school page so that you get updates fresh from Kenya right when they happen.