Caroline Mrowiec, Orphan Voice’s Hope Therapy Center
It has been a while since I last posted, but this time I have an excuse. I have been conscientiously social-distancing myself in the wake of COVID-19. There, my second sentence in and I already mentioned the coronavirus; it was the elephant in the room. (A room with 10 people or less in it, that goes without saying.) This pandemic has made me feel connected to the US, even though I am on the other side of the world. For the same unifying reason, we have the same icebreaker for every conversation, are giving the same dirty look if someone coughs, and are exhausting the supply of products that make us feel more secure in these uncertain times (face masks in Vietnam, toilet paper in the US). We taught the kids at Orphan Voice’s group home a dance for learning hand washing.
To Vietnam’s credit, the measures taken have been effective in preventing any major outbreaks here, even though cases pop up around the country from time-to-time. Our therapy center has been allowed to remain open, but the schools here have been shut down for two months, face masks are mandatory in public places, and tourism has all but ground to a halt. All travelers on tourist and business visas are being denied entry into Vietnam currently, so if I leave the country, I will not be allowed back in at this time. My visa expires next week, but I am being allowed to extend my visa for three months without leaving the country, and hopefully I will be able to remain in Vietnam this way. This conveniently segues me into my next topic, overstaying my time here in Vietnam.
Can you believe I have already been in Vietnam for two years?? Of course you can believe it, I just felt like it was the obligatory comment to make when acknowledging my fulfilled commitment of two years of service with Orphan Voice. I had planned on moving home in February, at the end of my two-year commitment here, but last fall, I realized that there was a good chance we would not find a replacement therapist to take over for me in time, before my planned departure. I do not think I am necessary for God to continue His work here with this ministry, but last September, I became convicted that He was prompting me to turn my deadline of leaving Vietnam over to Him. I tried to ignore this conviction, asked God to give me a sign if He meant it, and got online to book a flight home for February. But wouldn’t you know, the ticket price on the date I picked to fly home was double the price of any other date in February.
The incident helped me decide to do what I already knew I should, so I am still in Vietnam for the present. I know I am free to leave when I choose, but I know sometimes the best decisions are not about choosing the easiest option- something I am always hoping my patients understand about therapy. I try to push my patients each session to do tasks that challenge their abilities, in order for them to gain skills to reach their goals. I try to motivate my patients as best as I can, but even the smallest child has free will. Exercising this free will means that sometimes progress in therapy is slowed down or even impeded, when the child is unwilling to attempt challenging tasks or follow the rules. The thing is, the challenges and rules are there for the good of that child, and they know I am there to help them succeed in each task. For me, I don’t want to slow down my own progress by refusing the challenges that God has selected for my growth.
“So what am I gonna do? I’ll tell your what I’m gonna do. I’m gonna do a little bit of this, a little bit of that. I’m gonna… stay up all day. I’m gonna sleep up all night. I’m gonna give it a hoooo! Heyyyy! Hoooo! And I’m going to stop worrying about calories. -Michael Scott” -Caroline Mrowiec.* Like my visa situation, I am taking things a few months at a time. At Orphan Voice, we are exploring other options for what coverage of my position might look like. I may move home this August, depending on what I believe God is calling me to do. I have more than enough funds to keep going here, without any additional fundraising needed.
Now that my old deadline has come and gone, I am so thankful it is not time yet for me to say goodbye to my life here in Danang. For one thing, I have a consistent routine here, and I have gotten to be so precise in how late I run for work, that I always spot the same man each morning, in the five seconds it takes him to walk by my apartment building as I am leaving. I noticed him from the first, because he is always wearing a neck pillow around his neck. Of course, I never have time to say hello, because of the nature of the situation, but I am sure he will miss the controlled chaos of watching me drive off each day, when it is finally time for me to move home.
*Only TRUE Office fans will get this reference.
Trafficking prevention seminars protecting Nepalese children
“Updates from the Outback” with Tim Daniell, OV International Programs Director
One of the most amazing experiences of my life was trekking through the Himalayas of Nepal, to the base camp of the world’s highest mountain, Everest. Breathtaking!
I never dreamt at that time that I would be back with Orphan Voice just nine months later doing something else I love, helping to build strong families and see vulnerable children protected and thriving.
During this visit to Nepal in May 2019, I was able to help facilitate a training with our project partner to prepare for a new project Orphan Voice will begin to support to build strong families for orphaned and vulnerable children. One of my other priorities was to see firsthand a project Orphan Voice is already supporting, which is building greater awareness with vulnerable children to prevent trafficking and abuse.
Tragically and ironically, in a land of such exquisite beauty, child abuse and trafficking are destroying many precious young lives. A UNICEF report from 2017 states that around 12,000 female children and women are trafficked out of Nepal every year! Possibly many more go undetected, and some never return. That is a tragedy hard for many of us to comprehend.
Orphan Voice’s mission is to “be conduits whereby God’s love holistically transforms families and communities in conformity with His justice.” That is what we are in Nepal to do. We want to see the exploitation of children and women come to an end and His justice prevail. In a country like Nepal where many children are not aware of their rights and the dangers they face, or where to go to get help and speak out, Orphan Voice aims to give them a voice and build greater awareness.
In April 2019, Orphan Voice began an exciting new project and partnership with a wonderful local Christian organization, to broadcast child safety awareness campaigns on national television across Nepal. We are also supporting awareness raising trainings at schools, churches and clubs. In total, we are aiming to reach 120,000 children and youth with this vital message in just one year.
In May, I was able to attend one of these awareness trainings that Orphan Voice is supporting and was so impressed. Children learned about “Good Touch and Bad Touch” from a big fluffy dog mascot named Khush. They also learned about their rights to safety and memorized the national help-line number to call if they feel unsafe and need assistance. The children watched an excellent child-trafficking video locally produced by our project partner with support from Orphan Voice. And to top it all off, the children had a lot of fun singing action songs about God’s amazing love for them and received nutritional snacks before they returned home. I felt so blessed that Orphan Voice can be a part of this ongoing initiative and grateful to our project partner and many faithful donor partners who help to make this all possible.
After attending the awareness raising event, 17 year old Devina had memorized the help-line number and shared with me some of what she had learned. She said, “Today, I learned that if anybody touches our body and it makes us feel uncomfortable or unsafe, that is not right and is a crime. It is important for us to be safe and if we don’t feel safe, we need to tell someone who we trust and get help. I need to share this message about child safety with my friends and in my community.”
The statistics relating to child trafficking in Nepal and around the world are heart-breaking. However, I am encouraged to see what Orphan Voice and our project partner in Nepal is doing to help prevent the abuse and trafficking of children like Devina.
Through your prayers and support, you are helping us reach our goal of sharing this important child safety and anti-trafficking message with 120,000 Nepali children this year, and hopefully many more in the years to come. On behalf of Devina and thousands of children like her, thank you for making Nepal a safer place for them to live.
Caroline Mrowiec, Orphan Voice’s Hope Therapy Center
This is my little buddy, Tan. He has been coming to the center for almost a year now. Tan has ADHD (attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder) and behavioral issues. If only we could find a way to harness his activeness, we could solve the energy crisis. The first time I met Tan and his mother, Tan was running wild through the house and his mother cried and begged us to accept Tan to the therapy center. Tan’s father passed away a few years ago, and I believe some of Tan’s issues stem from this. One session, his mom told us that during the previous night, Tan had woken her up and asked her, “Did my father really die? Please don’t leave me.”
Tan used to have good and bad days, emphasis on the bad. Now it is the opposite. A recent achievement for Tan is that he has consistently been brushing his teeth in the morning instead of having a temper tantrum like he used to. He also used to use any place in his home as a toilet, but we have finally transitioned him out of this free-spirited lifestyle.
Tan has been enjoying the new toys at the center which my Aunt Kimi donated.
My aunt and cousin came to visit me in April and they spent a day of their vacation helping me at the center, as well as giving us some new toys and equipment for the kids.
One game they brought- Hungry Hippos- has topped the center’s popular toy chart and is the number one requested item at the center. It is especially a favorite with our children with behavioral issues, and more than one game I have played with them has ended in a fist fight. I am trying to tone down my competitiveness though and I keep telling myself that the only real loser is a bad sport. Keep in mind that I did grow up with a brother (who shall remain nameless), who used to flip the game board at strategic moments when a loss was inevitable for him.
Speaking of Miles, he has developed a communication app for me to use with my nonverbal clients. I bullied him into doing this for his senior project at college. It has been a lot of hard work (for Miles) but with no regrets (I don’t have any). In the US, children who cannot verbally communicate often use some sort of augmentative communication device. This can be in various forms, depending on the child’s abilities, but often times, it is an ipad with a downloaded communication app, allowing the child to select pictures, phrases, or words to let others know what they are thinking.
Many of our families have a smartphone, which means they could download an app to use with their child at home. However, I was unable to find a communication app in Vietnamese, so that is where Miles stepped in (rather willingly, as if he had an option to do otherwise).
We have been trialing the app with an 8-year-old boy at the center named Phu.
Look at this angel face- you would never know that he is capable of doing anything wrong, but he does dabble a bit in bad behaviors. Phu understands Vietnamese, but he is unable to speak because of his physical disabilities. He can yell though, and he used to yell until he got what he wanted. The volume of his yelling was only rivaled by its frequency. We have been able to phase out this behavior for the most part though, by replacing it with sign language and the communication app. There has also been a downturn in his behaviors of spitting and hitting others.
Tai, pictured below, also looks angelic but in his case, looks are not deceiving; he is a super sweet 18-year-old boy with cerebral palsy.
When I first met him, Tai showed me how he can use an ipad with his foot and pick up items with his toes. We have been working on the skills needed to pull his pants up and down. He can now manage his clothing during toileting, and does not need his mom to help him go to the bathroom anymore.
Thank you for your continued prayers and support! Go Cubs!
Message by Cindy Brewer
Seth’s Wall: Transforming Children’s Lives
As Josh and Brandi Reyes planned their family, having a special needs child wasn’t “on their radar.” Yet, God in His wisdom knew the blessing that Seth, their Down’s Syndrome son, would be.
Through Seth, Josh and Brandi learned the ways to minister to their son and, then, other special needs children too.
That revelation led Josh to Vietnam to build a climbing wall (Seth’s Wall) at Orphan Voice’s Hope Therapy Center. He wanted others to gain the “climbing wall benefits” that Seth had gained. Through climbing, Seth’s muscles, character, perseverance and passion had all grown!
Today, Caroline Mrowiec, MOT, and her two staff and three helpers, assist 66 children who regularly attend Orphan Voice’s therapy centers. In some cases, grandmoms bring their loved ones on old motorbikes. In other cases, Orphan Voice’s van transports both.
There are over 600 special needs children who haven’t yet had a chance for therapy or to experience that love. They are unreached!
Will you invest $50, $25, $10 or another amount of your choosing to ensure that the Love of Christ reaches them in practical, therapeutic ways? To do so, donate online HERE to invest today. Thank you!
“The Phu Ninh Therapy Center lay therapists ask great questions about how to provide effective therapy to cerebral palsy children when we train together. They obviously love the parents and children.”
~ Ann Maree Chapman, Visiting Professional, MOT
Promise House Children
Once Defenseless – Now Secure
Children can’t develop talents if they’re physically or emotionally abused or hungry. Sadly, some of these precious ones suffered in those ways. More than one experienced sexual abuse or failed attempts at it; one had to beg for food; another, as a form of discipline, had his wrists tied behind his back and was hoisted in the air by a rope looped under his armpits. These children were defenseless.
It changed as Orphan Voice partners intervened. They loved them enough to make them safe and secure. Yes, an orphanage isn’t God’s Plan A, but for these children, it’s needed. Orphan Voice partners have provided the love, care, prayers, and funding to give them a normal life – a life where they can play, develop their talents and thrive.
Promise House is not fully funded. In fact, our largest Promise House supporter (an institution) is withdrawing from orphanage support in all countries in which they operate. That affects our children, of course. A church, Sunday school or individual can “adopt” the Promise House children, send volunteers and dirty their hands in practical ways. Email email@example.com if your church or group would like to do so.
For the rest of us, can you invest $50, $25, $10 or another amount of your choosing into these children’s lives? Please donate online HERE.
Giving Children A Future And A Hope
Imagine loving your son but knowing that he won’t learn to read. Would you fear for his future?
Gia was born deaf. There are no signing teachers in his village. His parents wept – and prayed.
Their prayers and the generous hearts of Orphan Voice partners collided! They learned of New Beginnings School for the Deaf and enrolled Gia. Then they met Mai and Hanh, New Beginning’s teachers.
Mai and Hanh teach reading and math, yes, but they also guide their students spiritually.
Can you help us equip these children educationally and spiritually? Please invest your gift of $50, $25, $10 or another amount of your choosing to give them a future and a hope. Donate HERE. Thank you!
Orphan Voice Partners Transform Ho’s Life Through Cleft Lip Surgery
Being single with a child on the way is hard. It’s harder when you’re a single mom and you have no job. All this describes Hieu’s life as her son, Ho, entered the world.
Praise God, Ho was born generally healthy, and, as a 1 year old, is active, friendly and loves to “talk.” That “talk,” however, has always been garbled because of his cleft lip and cleft palate.
Soon after Ho’s birth, Hieu was able to get a waitress job at a roadside noodle shop, which eased the financial pressure she felt. Her 3,000,000 VND ($130 USD) monthly salary was enough to feed her son and mother, but just. It certainly wasn’t enough to get the corrective surgery that Ho needed. Travel expenses, food, and medical costs would eat up 6-7 month’s salary, and Hieu just couldn’t do it. Tears of helplessness flowed.
That’s when Orphan Voice partners stepped up. On January 2, Hieu and Ho traveled in an Orphan Voice van to Hue General Hospital for the coveted surgery. After a week in the hospital taking antibiotics to clear an infection, Ho’s lip was repaired. He’s still in the healing process, but see the difference for yourself!
That’s what Orphan Voice partners do! They bless, they encourage, they lift the lowly, they fix things!
How Special Needs Ministry Has Eternal Results
When An was born and grew, Tuyet marveled. She yearned to know her beautiful granddaughter – to understand her personality, what foods she liked, what she liked to do. She was full of dreams for that baby girl.
But a severe and prolonged fever when An was 6 months old changed those dreams. The fever brought with it epilepsy, cerebral palsy and mental and physical disabilities. Today, An can’t hold up her head without help.
Since An’s parents both work, daily care for An, and her little sister, Nhi, falls to elderly Tuyet. Her love is great for her granddaughters, but the burden, and her advancing years, are also great.
Today, thanks to Orphan Voice partners and Hope Therapy Center staff, Tuyet is blessed with 5-6 hours of weekly respite care. Therapists provide life-changing therapy which is improving the quality of An’s life. Additionally, Hope Therapy Center provides home equipment to make An and Tuyet’s lives more manageable and comfortable. Australian therapists just fitted An with her own wheelchair!
There are many more children who need our help. Social workers tell us that 600 special needs children live in one district alone! Currently, Orphan Voice is serving 54 of these children. So we need your help to reach the rest.
Overcoming Deafness in Rural Vietnam
New Beginnings School for the Deaf Opens Doors For The Future
In rural Quang Nam Province, deaf children don’t go to school because public schools don’t provide signing teachers. And because of poverty, parents of the deaf cannot send their children to larger cities where deaf services are available. Therefore, deaf children grow up without learning to sign, are unable to communicate with others, and are without math and other academic skills. They are often abused, even sexually abused.
When Orphan Voice partners opened New Beginning Scool for the Deaf, deaf students clamored to come.
One student, when teased by his father that he wouldn’t take him to school the next day, left his home on foot at 4:00 the next morning to be sure that he didn’t miss school. Another student, when unsure that her father would allow her to attend, cut enough grass for the family cow to last several days, so that he wouldn’t have a reason to keep her at home. Indeed, one need only walk into the New Beginning’s classroom to see the students’ joy and eagerness.
And they’re fun to watch. Click HERE to see these students and their teacher in action!
A World Class Athlete Comes To New Beginnings
A Paraplegic Climber of Africa’s Mt. Kilimanjaro Conducts Special Olympics
Darol Kubacz is a decorated Army veteran who suffered a spinal cord injury while serving his country. Although a paraplegic as a result, he is active in ministry and a world-class athlete- one who has climbed Mount Kilimanjaro. Darol and his wife, Cheryl, love the deaf children at New Beginnings School for the Deaf.
A few months ago, Darol led a team comprised of men and women from several States to Phu Ninh. The team held a special olympics for the children of Phu Ninh Therapy Center, Hope Therapy Center and New Beginnings School for the Deaf. The children loved it!
Click HERE to hear Darol and Cheryl’s message for you!
A Friendship Team For Adoptive Families And Their Children
When Cindy and I moved to Vietnam 11 years ago, it was in our heart to someday welcome a Friendship Team made up of adoptive families and their children who we knew from our days at A Helping Hand Adoption Agency. I even told Cindy at that time: “we’ll go, make preparations and be ready for them when they come.”
We’ve talked about this trip several times with you. This is our last email about it. We think it’s time. We need to finalize plans!
What: The “A Helping Hand Friendship Team”
When: June 6 – June 17, 2019
Where: Danang City, Vietnam
Who to contact for more information: Don Secrest (firstname.lastname@example.org)
When to Decide By: January 30 (we need commitments by that date)
If you’re one of the “AHH girls or boys,” God most likely took your parents to an orphanage to get you. If you’re an “AHH parent,” God most likely took you to an orphanage where you first laid eyes on one of the greatest loves of your life. That orphanage was a poor place, maybe a dirty place, maybe a smelly place, perhaps a place that you felt was lacking in love. But on that day, it was a place where God resided and where He met you. His goodness and His Presence were there with you that day in a special way.
Now, after the passage of many years, how about both parent(s) and child, or either alone, traveling to Vietnam to minister to orphans and vulnerable children – to minister to “the least of these” together? How about meeting that same faithful and good God in an orphanage for a second time?
Many have expressed interest in this unique trip. It’s time to decide so that we can determine the team and make preparations. Therefore, We need to hear from you by January 30.
This will be the most blessed and amazing trip of your life. God is in it and where He is, there is joy! Email Don today!
Total Cost Estimate for 12 days in country
Current Flight Estimate: $1,650.00 (this will vary as the date approaches)
Visa and Visa Picture: $62
Travel Insurance cost: $43.00 (required)
Food and Water: $150.00
Hotel: $182.00 (two persons in a room)
Total Estimated Cost: $2,149.00 as of January 9, 2019
*The transportation cost is calculated by taking the total van rental and dividing it among the team members. This estimate is based on 12 team members.
Please be aware that personal purchases are not included in the Total Cost Estimate. Any souvenirs, extra toiletries or other personal purchases are not accounted for.
Orphan Voice has talked with a travel agency called Mission Nation Travel. We recommend that agency if you are looking for an agency to handle all your travel arrangements. In your email, ask Don for their contact information. Orphan Voice does not require you to work with Mission Nation Travel, as we know that some of you are internet savvy and can book your own flights and take care of your own visa. In the event that you book your own flight, we will simply give you the date that you need to be in Danang. Remember though, that there is blessing in traveling together!
How Orphan Voice Partners Saved A Four Year Old Boy
Eight year old Tro’s life began well, but by the age of four his dad and then his caregiver grandparents were dead. At that time, a drug addict entered his life. This abuser forced Tro to beg in order to feed his habit. If Tro didn’t beg enough cash, the man beat or starved him. His mother couldn’t protect her son from her “boyfriend.” To protect himself, four year old Tro often slept on concrete in the market.
Fast forward four years. Tro eats rice, fish and vegetables until full – three times daily. He sleeps in a bed with a blanket – under roof. Caregivers hug instead of beat him. He’s no longer alone.
How did his life change so?
The Burdens You Lift
The Blessing You Are!
Bao, born with CP, lost his mom four months ago to cancer. And Bao’s dad – well, after his wife’s death, he withdrew from the family. Of necessity, Bao’s elderly grandmother now cares for him alone.
When village elders saw the family’s struggle, they recommended that Bao go to Orphan Voice’s Phu Ninh Therapy Center. Desperate for help, Grandma took Bao, and after evaluation, he was accepted into the therapy program.
Will Bao gain motor functions through therapy in the coming months? Yes. We know that based on 7 years of Center operation. Will he make huge developmental gains? Maybe not. Bao’s CP is severe.
But gains he will surely make! He will also gain self-esteem and self-respect. Grandma’s life is already easier and happier. With the respite help she receives when Bao is in therapy, she has more energy and is better able to give him her best – to provide the needed love and care at home.
Orphan Voice partners – you’re champs! The therapists’ hands laid on Bao are really your hands. You give that exhausted grandmother badly needed respite time, so that she, in turn, has the strength to provide home care. It’s all because of you!
Grandma sure thanks you!
Phu Ninh Therapy Center exists only because of the generosity of you, our partners. Would you sow into Bao’s life and others like him? Can you invest $50, $100, $250, $500 or another amount today? Thank you. They need you! Please sow as generously as you can HERE . Or mail your investment to Orphan Voice, P.O. Box 910410, Lexington, Kentucky 40591.
Building Strong Families
No Orphanage In Their Future!
Cuc’s husband is disabled. A year ago, she needed to provide for her two, school-age daughters with the $1.75 per day that she worked long hours to earn (See August’s Ministry Update). It seemed that there was always “more month than money.” At her most difficult time, she considered placing her beloved daughters in an orphanage, so that they could have better food and go to school.
But God intervened in her life and she didn’t lose her daughters. Instead, God used Orphan Voice’s Building Strong Families program to transform Cuc’s life. Building Strong Families paid for her husband’s medical care. Building Strong Families staff provided mentoring on marriage and child discipline. Then, experts worked with Cuc to create a business plan to expand her small business.
Cuc helped create the plan and then she “worked the plan.” As a result, her business grew dramatically! Her daily income rose from $1.75 to $7.25 per day! The thought of placing her daughters in an orphanage vanished!
Because of God working through you and the local Vietnamese church to encourage and help Cuc, her family is stable!
Thirteen families have completed the Building Strong Families program. With each family, the local church has shared Jesus’ love!
Three of the families dropped out of Building Strong Families, but check out (below) the success of the other ten families!
We are expanding our Building Strong Families program to four other Southeast Asian nations where we will work with local church partners. Working with the local church, our goal is to invest in 100 at-risk families in Nepal, Thailand, India and Laos. The 18 month program for each family will cost $1500. Help us meet our investment goal! To do so, donate HERE. Or mail your investment to Orphan Voice, P.O. Box 910410, Lexington, Kentucky 40591. Thank you!
Love Expressed From the Driver’s Seat
For years, Sy drove an 18-wheeler from Danang to Saigon carrying freight. From Danang to Saigon is 700 miles – and it took Sy 20-22 hours of driving on Vietnam’s congested National Road to get there!
Little wonder that Sy wanted a driving job to enable him to be with his family more. He also wanted to use his driving skills for something more meaningful. While he didn’t know it, Orphan Voice was also looking for a driver! Several weeks ago Sy came on staff!
Sy now spends his days transporting special needs children from their homes to Hope Therapy Center and then back home. For some of the children, he carries them from their house to the van, from the van to the Center and back to the van again when their therapy session is over.
As you can see, he loves his job !
They Came, They Saw, They Loved
The “Encouragers” Friendship Team Leaves A Lasting Mark
They came from all over the United States. Darol, Cheryl, Ben, Brenda, Gerry, Kim, Patrick, Ignace and Troy came to bless. They came to love. Enjoy seeing the team have fun with New Beginnings School for the Deaf and Phu Ninh Therapy Center children!
The life of rural Vietnam’s, special needs children can be hard. Nowhere is this better seen than in the lives of rural-born deaf children. In Huy’s village, there resided no one who could teach him or his parents to sign. Huy’s mom and dad couldn’t send him to “the big city” where deaf services were available. As a result, from age one, when Huy’s diagnosis was confirmed by a second doctor, until he was 11 years old, Huy never attended school, didn’t learn to read, and never learned even basic math. He didn’t communicate with anyone outside his immediate family – and even with his mom and dad, he didn’t communicate well.
When Huy’s dad learned of New Beginnings School for the Deaf recently, he immediately came to the school and asked Teacher Mai if Huy could attend. In fact, he pleaded with her. So even though New Beginnings’s school year has already begun, Huy was admitted.
Huy’s just getting started and must catch up. Please pray for him (and a second new child) as they begin to learn Vietnamese sign language, reading, math and character development. Thank you!
New Beginnings now teaches 12 children each day. The school depends on your prayers and your investment, to pay the bills. Can you invest $50, $100 or $250 in one of these 12 deaf children today? Please do so and Donate Here.
Or mail your support to Orphan Voice, P.O. Box 910410, Lexington, Kentucky 40591. Thank you!