Archive for February, 2018

Snatched from the Clutches of Death

Tuesday, February 27th, 2018

Orphans in Desperate Need – You can help!

— Editor’s Note —

The mission of ICC was conceived in the aftermath of a terrible earthquake that decimated Guatemala City leaving hundreds of children orphaned.

Now, 40 years after ICC’s humble beginning, your ongoing support helps to provide a refuge and nurturing home environment for children who’s lives have been devastated by natural disasters, social problems and civil unrest.

ICC continues to play a critical role in the lives of children who have lost everything and been rescued from the very clutches of death. Your continued help ensures these children receive the care they need!

Please read on to find out more —

One of the orphaned children resuced in the DR Congo

“I was hungry, and you gave me something to eat. I was thirsty, and you gave me something to drink.
I was a stranger, and you invited me in. I needed clothes, and you clothed me. I was sick, and you looked after me…
Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for Me.”

Matthew 25:34-36,40.

Refugee camps are supposed to be safe havens — free from surrounding conflicts. At least that’s what they are supposed to be. But in the D.R. Congo it sometimes happens that refugee camps become caught up in the strife and bloodshed.

Recently three camps in northeastern D.R. Congo came under attack from rebel fighters. In the aftermath, when UN military peace-keeping forces arrived to see what had transpired, they found a sickening sight — over nine hundred children were left behind to fend for themselves. The children recounted having only limited food in the camps. At times, they had to survive on wild fruit and edible leaves.

“Thanks to the support you’ve given in the past and the confidence that you will stand by the ‘least of these’, Desire set about clothing, feeding, soothing, and welcoming them into the ICC family.”

You may recall that in September, our Patmos Children’s Village received seven children because of a mudslide that barreled through a village leaving many children orphaned. Now, just 43 days after these children arrived, another 17 were brought to us. An additional seven arrived the following day bringing the total number of new children to 31 — all within two months.

Patmos director, Désiré, tried to reason with the officials. He pleaded that he didn’t have the resources to provide for these children, many of whom were nearly dead.

But the Ministry of Social Affairs, even though working with the UN troops and seven other organizations in the region, had no other alternatives left. Patmos was their last chance. Désiré agreed to try to save the lives of these little children.

These children were a pitiful sight when they arrived! Photos that Désiré sent tell the story of the children’s meager existence all too well — distended bellies, skeletons covered by skin without tissue to hide the bones, colorless hair (or not having hair at all), splotchy skin, and sad eyes.

The children suffered from some form or combination of health issues: malnutrition and/or kwashiorkor, malaria, typhoid fever, intestinal worms, diarrhea.

Much like Matthew’s description in the Bible of those in need, these children were naked, hungry, sick, a stranger. However, thanks to the support you’ve given in the past and the confidence that you will stand by the “least of these,” Désiré set about clothing, feeding, soothing and welcoming them into the ICC family.

Nine of the children needed immediate medical care in the clinic. As of the writing of this update, four remain in serious condition, one of whom you can see in the picture at the beginning of this article.

After assessing the condition of the children, Désiré believed that 80% of them would have died within a week if they had not come to The Patmos Children’s Village.

In the days following, he received reports about children who died in the care of other orphan facilities. We pray to God that none of the children brought to us will die! God is faithful, and Désiré and his team are skilled at providing the care the children need.

Please pray that God will work through them to restore the health of these children and make a way for them to be fully integrated into the ICC family in the D.R. Congo. But, where to from here — and how can you help?

The Bible makes it clear that caring for orphan children is not an option if you want to demonstrate “true religion” before God (See James 1:27).
The ministry of ICC exists to help rescue and restore the lives of children like this. It will take sustained effort. We will need to work together.

The Plan

In consultation with Désiré, we have established a plan going forward. Within the next three months, 13 of the older children at The Patmos Children’s Village will leave the project to become independent. This will bring some relief to the budget.

However, the net gain from having 31 new children means they need more of the following: care givers, furniture and equipment, food, educational supplies, and ongoing medical care.

For five months, it will cost an additional $9,300 per month to provide for the new children. After the 13 older children leave  The Patmos Children’s Village, that amount will decrease to $4,800.

It will take some time before sponsors can be assigned to these new children. In the meantime, the Patmos Children’s Village needs extra financial support. For the sake of all the children in other children’s villages like Guatemala, the Dominican Republic and India, the extra financial support needs to be on top of support given to those projects as well.

The world is hurtling into chaos. Many of the innocent victims are children. But, the Bible makes it plain that there are no “throw away children.” And how we respond says much about us and what we value.

Your extra gift today of $50 or $150 or even $350 will go a long way to helping these new children in Congo. Thank you for answering the call to feed, cloth and welcome orphan children who need you so very much right now!

Please pray for the ICC Congo situation and especially for the children who are still fighting for their lives. Who knows, someday we might see some of them become teachers, pastors, mechanics and nurses! God definitely has a plan for each one of these kids, or He wouldn’t have brought them specifically to Patmos Children’s Village.

Faithfully Serving the Children

Tuesday, February 6th, 2018
A photo of Samalin and Mario Lora of the ICC Las Palmas Children's Village.

Samalin & Mario

For most of the past 35 years, Mario and Samilin Lora have faithfully served the children of Las Palmas in the Dominican Republic. In 1983 Samilin came to Las Palmas when her parents joined the staff. She was only 17 at the time.

With a chuckle, Samilin vividly remembers the first children who arrived on campus. Everyone was thrilled. These children came from the nearby village and looked so pitiful — with distended bellies and full of parasites. This was the start of the program, or so everyone thought at the time!

The children were cleaned up, given fresh clothes and some nourishing food. Everyone was happy — until the next day when family members of these children came to the campus all concerned about their well-being.

Yes, the children were in poor shape. They appeared to be orphans living on the streets. But they had distant relatives and neighbors who heard that the Americans had taken their children to use their organs and eyeballs.

Sheepishly, the staff watched as these children left with community members. However, these “first children” left behind a good lesson and principle that sticks with our project administrators to this day — be sure to follow ICC protocols so they are legally taken into care.

Despite this early setback, it wasn’t long after this experience that Las Palmas did start receiving children who legitimately needed the help for which ICC is known.

Eventually, Samilin met and married Mario Lora. Together they spent some time in Puerto Rico and also working at the Adventist University in the Dominican Republic.

A photo of Mario & Samalin with children of the Las Palmas Children’s Village

Mario & Samalin with children of the Las Palmas Children’s Village

Then in 1991, Samilin’s mother called her and Mario to come and join the staff of Las Palmas. Samilin became the children’s services director and Mario became the chaplain and accountant.

Samilin recalls how difficult it was for her at first to take on the challenges of overseeing the parents. Since she is somewhat small, the parents joked that they would “put this little auntie in a sack” so they would not have to obey her.

This was a trial by fire for Samilin, and one that she won through God’s help and her determination. She recalls that once the parents understood ICC’s model and implemented it consistently, things went much better.

Samilin grew in experience and capacity as the children’s services director and also obtained her master’s degree in Educational Administration. Then, in 1998 when her mother retired, ICC asked Samilin to take on the responsibilities as project administer — a position she continues to hold today.

When asked what her biggest challenge is now as the project administrator, Samilin says that it’s finding good house parents. It’s a challenge to find parents with a passion for taking care of the children and not just to have money.

According to Rick Fleck, ICC president, Samilin has turned this into a strength. They have a proven record of success in finding, training and keeping good house parents. They use an effective interviewing and screening process, and this has helped a lot.

Over the past few years a new generation of children have come to Las Palmas. Many of the older children have completed their education and have moved on to live independently. There has be in influx of younger children.

Logo representing the 40th Anniversary of International Children's CareMario and Samilin understand very well how important it is to teach the new children core values that will serve them well in this life and prepare them for eternal life.

Each of the past three years, the Las Palmas staff have focused on teaching the kids values. The staff are united in this. According to Samilin, “the most important thing is to have the children saved in Jesus. That is my passion. We’re working on the area of values with that end in mind.”

This year’s motto is “United with our Eyes on Eternal Values.” The entire staff are united in keeping their eyes on eternal values they can teach the children.

There was a time several years ago when there were not many children being referred to Las Palmas. That has changed. We have received so many requests that there is not capacity to accept them all. Sadly, some children are being turned away.

Samilin recently hired a couple to serve as house parents in a home that was re-opened. Their home is now nearly filled with children. Samilin will soon try to open another home because there are so many requests for assistance. The government is cooperating well and are bringing children at an early age. This is when ICC’s model of care can have the greatest positive impact.

One of the factors causing an increase in the number of at-risk children is the increase in the number of men killing women in the Dominican Republic the last couple of years. Government authorities are worried about this trend which may be caused by the increase in the cost of living, high unemployment and drug use.

In a country like the Dominican Republic, it is unusual for a woman to oversee an organization, especially if her husband is also working at the same place. However, Mario and Samilin have found a comfortable working relationship for each has a unique role.

Also, Mario is the head of their home while Samilin serves as the administrator of the project. They have learned to separate the roles within their work and personal lives and respect each other within those roles.

Mario and Samilin are well-aware of the critical part that ICC Donors play in the sustaining this ministry on behalf of children at Las Palmas. “Tell the donors,” says Samilin, “if it weren’t for those donors, this [program for children] would not exist. Only in heaven will you be rewarded.”

The children of ICC have been blessed by the tireless, sacrificial and dedicated service this faithful couple has given to them through the years. We value them as cherished members of the ICC family.