By India Howell, Founder & Executive Director
It’s hard to believe that 15 years have passed until I realize that the boys I used to bend over to hug are now so tall I have to stand on tip toes to reach them. And the girls who were playing with dolls on the veranda are now poised, beautiful young women attending college. It all went by in a flash!
It is humbling to remember Peter and myself 15 years ago and all that we did not know about raising children or transforming a community of 10,000. Luckily, we had no idea all that our future work would require of us or we may have been too scared to even start.
When we opened our doors all those years ago we believed that all we needed to do was provide a safe and loving home for children who had been orphaned. We believed that the government would provide our children with a good education and that quality health care would be readily available. We naively thought that relieving the community of the burden of raising orphaned children would be all they needed to push forward toward brighter futures. How wrong we were! And yet despite the unexpected, I would not change a thing that has led us to where we are today.
I will never forget the first time one of my kids came home from school crying because he had been beaten by a teacher. Or the first time my child was sick and I discovered that there was no accessible qualified doctor to treat them. My alarm was matched only by my outrage that something like this could happen to the children I had vowed to love and protect, and in realizing that it was clearly happening to every mother in the community we had joined.
Events such as these ignited Peter and I to think, dream, and act towards a new kind of future for our children and our community. It became clear that the challenges we all faced stemmed from the same problem: generational poverty. And once we identified the root cause, we knew that it would take all of us working together to confront the failures of our schools and the limited access to health care and economic opportunity.
15 years later we are well on the way to achieving the goals we set all those years ago thanks to careful and studied steps forward that have allowed us to build successful and sustainable community programs that will stand the test of time. With a top performing primary school, a secondary school on the rise, access to health care for all, and a growing number of adults earning incomes, we have impacted a whole community and have developed a culture of hope rather than despair.
It has been a wild and glorious ride made possible by all of those who believed in our intangible ideas and stepped up to help as volunteers, donors, and supporters. Thank you for being the engine of change that is proving our holistic approach can be the answer for thousands.