Daily Point of Light # 2721 Jul 9, 2004

According to UNICEF and U.S. AID statistics, there are approximately 100 million orphans worldwide. ORPHANetwork is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that was established in 2000 with a mission to help orphaned children in third world countries fully realize their potential. They work with established, indigenous partners to build and strengthen the capacity of orphanages in third world countries. These homes provide shelter, food, medical care, clothing, education, vocational training and a loving community for hundreds of children. In addition, ORPHANetwork is committed to creating real and lasting change in the communities surrounding the orphanages they serve through community development and self-sufficiency programs.

As a result of their donors’ generous giving, ORPHANetwork financially supports Casa Bernabe orphanage in Vera Cruz, Nicaragua where they are building a holistic model of ministry that cares for orphaned children from infancy through early adulthood. They go beyond meeting the children’s basic physical needs to also give them the education, loving support and tools they need to successfully leave the orphanage, enter the workplace and change their local community and country. The organization also helps fund VERBO School onsite at Casa Bernabe, which currently educates more than 300 orphans and impoverished children from the local community. VERBO is the only high school for hundreds of miles outside the capital city of Managua. They also sponsor orphanage graduates who attend University of Managua.

Their community development and self-sufficiency projects include a bakery in Vera Cruz that employs older women in the community and provides bread for several of the nearby orphanages. In addition, their organic model-farming project at Casa Bernabe provides the orphans with agricultural skills and job training, as well as much-needed fruits and vegetables for the orphanage.

In addition, ORPHANetwork is involved in relief work in Nuevo Vida, the largest Hurricane Mitch disaster relief site in Nicaragua. They are currently working to re-open the children’s feeding center onsite and providing vocational training for women in the community with cooking, typing and sewing classes. With an unemployment rate of more than 60 percent, many Nicaraguan families simply cannot afford to raise their children and are forced to give them up to orphanages where they can receive care. By providing parents with steady jobs that provide stable income, ORPHANetwork is helping to break the cycle of “social orphaning” that threatens Nicaragua’s future.

Last year through their Christmas Wish Program, 12 participating churches in the state of Virginia helped ORPHANetwork raise $42,000. This enabled them to take more than 2,000 orphans and impoverished children in the Ukraine and Nicaragua to their local marketplace for the shopping trip of a lifetime. With the funds raised, they were able to purchase clothes, shoes, a backpack, school supplies and a toy of their choice. ORPHANetwork volunteers make approximately 10 annual trips to Nicaragua and Ukraine where they care for children, take them for medical appointments, distribute critically needed supplies and help build and renovate buildings on site.