God's grace has powerfully led our organization, revealing his heart for specific communities, blessing relationships, and directing us to partners around the world who share our vision, our heart, and our values. We understand that this is his ministry, not ours. We do our best to watch for what God is doing through Arms of Love and to follow obediently!
Of course we do not know what the future holds or what Arms of Love will look like in another fifteen years, but we promise to seek after the Lord's plans and purposes. Today, we work in Nicaragua and the Philippines, and we intend to continue doing so with passion and excellence for many years.
"We hope you'll join Arms of Love International in the battle for the forgotten children of the world.
The time to answer the call is now!"
-The Arms of Love team
Nicaragua is the largest country in Central America, with a name that translates literally as “surrounded by water.” It is a beautiful country, with gorgeous beaches, gracious people, and the largest fresh water lake in the region. Popular television series like Survivor and House Hunters have filmed in Nicaragua...but not seen on those shows is the vulnerability of Nicaragua, a country devastated by natural disasters, civil wars, and political corruption.
Nicaragua is the second poorest country in the Western Hemisphere (CIA). Over half of the population lives in extreme poverty, without access to clean water, electricity, education, and medical care. 50 percent of Nicaraguan workers are unemployed or underemployed (CDCA). The children are the most affected by the poverty, putting them at risk to human trafficking and abuse.
An estimated 40 million children under 15 years old experience violence, abuse, and neglect worldwide, with Latin America and the Caribbean having the highest rates of violence against women and children (UN).
On average, Nicaraguans complete less than five years of schooling (USAID). While education is required by law within the country, only 28% of first graders will ever go on to complete the 6th grade (USDOS).
Our Nicaraguan Neighborhood
The stories written below paint a picture of the difficult realities of families living in our surrounding neighborhoods in Nicaragua. Thankfully, Arms of Love has been able to open our doors and respond to over 30 different family's greatest needs.
A loss of income due to the death of a father leaves a family with one meal of rice and beans each day.
1/3 children in Nicaragua experience some degree of malnutrition.
(Center for Development in Central America)
No electricity. No running water. No steady employment. Two young parents fight to care for their son who is sick, pale, and underweight.
A father who has emigrated to Costa Rica to find work, and a mother who is too sick to provide for the family. The daughter must work at 10 years of age to help.
800,000 Nicaraguans earn less than $1 a day.
A child who cannot attend school regular because he lacks the necessary clothing and footwear required.
OUR RESPONSE TO COMMUNITY NEED
To further our impact and address needs identified in the surrounding neighborhoods, Arms of Love launched the Community Development Program in 2013. Children suffering from extreme poverty, malnutrition, and learning difficulties, were identified by the neighborhood school to participate in our Nicaraguan program. Thanks to donor contributions, children are provided a healthy meal three times per week. In addition, the children are offered classes in health and hygiene, English, computation, music, spiritual growth, as well as tutoring support.
Watching these children grow in health and confidence warms the heart, but another encouraging aspect is parent involvement. Parents contribute to the Community Development Program in a variety of ways, including with food preparation, cleaning, supervising the children as they wash their hands and brush their teeth, as well as helping with homework.
Fernando and Michele's
Fernando and Michele have devoted parents who work very hard to provide for them, as well as their baby brother Anthony. The father, Dinoisio, uses the family horse and cart to earn income in trash disposal, as well as to haul firewood, to clean land, to cut coffee, and various other activities.
He works hard, but the economic returns are minimal. The mother, Maria Auxiliadora, has busy days washing cloths, chopping wood, preparing food in a stone fire pit, and caring for the kids. The family's home was built with pieces of plastic, sheet metal, sticks, tires, and then secured with rope, wire and some nails. They had one bed for the whole family. In the rainy season the home remains very damp. They had no sanitary latrine or running water. When the kids first came to Arms of Love they had parasites, lice, various illnesses, and many signs of malnutrition.
Their education lacked and they had no school supplies. Despite all this, Fernando carried a spirit of joy, and Michele freely shared her beautiful smile. The love of their parents shone through their children in the midst of difficult circumstances. We saw potential.
27 children from our community were identified by the local schools as urgently needing assistance, and in March 2013 our Community Development Program began for these kids, including Fernando and Michele.
Beyond nutritious meals 3 times per week, supplemental education is provided for kids and parents, including tutoring, music classes, English classes, computation, hygiene training, mental health teachings,and spiritual discipleship. Of course the kids are also provided a safe place to play on Arms of Love property...and they love to play!
Fernando and Michele are healthy, more confident, and doing better in school. Their mother now demonstrates increased leadership, servitude (volunteering her time with our program), responsibility at school, and involvement in church. She is constantly sharing her gratitude.
Arms of Love has been able to provide beds and mattresses for their kids, school supplies, medicine, food packages, Christmas gifts, supplemental work for the father, and clothing and footwear for the family. Additionally, thanks to a church partnership and collaboration with our Community Development Program, the family was recently able to have a new cinder block home built, further stabilizing their health and hope.
The mother says she has no words to describe the love Arms of Love has provided to their children and for our desire to see them succeed, and perhaps most importantly, that they feel like part of our family.
Thank you for being part of the family too, and for partnering with Arms of Love to change lives!
Click Here to learn more about supporting our Community Development Program in Nicaragua.
The Philippines is a nation of 7,107 islands, and Bohol is the tenth largest. Travelers from all over the world come to see the breath taking scenery of the Chocolate Hills, the white sand beaches of Panglao Islands, and the world's smallest monkey, the tarsier. Filipinos are known for their amazing hospitality and joy. What vacationers do not know is that Bohol has many people living in severe poverty, and is consistently ranked in the bottom cluster of provinces (UNICEF).
The majority of individuals in the Philippines live on less than $2 per day (USAID). Government corruption, the Asian financial crisis, and natural disasters (including the devastating El Niño storm in the late 90's and Typhoon Haiyan in 2013) have created widespread poverty. The impact on living standards in the Philippines has been profound, with 20 percent of children under age 5 being underweight due to limited access to nutritious food (CI).
The Philippines is ranked 4th among the nations with the greatest number of prostituted children (UNICEF). In addition, the Philippines is a source, transit, and destination country for the trafficking of children. Many women who travel to surrounding countries for work face violent physical and sexual abuse (AED).
With over 50 percent of the population living below the poverty line, many people "volunteer" in hopes of filing positions as they arise, or travel to surrounding countries for work. The Labor Migration in the Philippines estimates that 1 million Filipino migrate abroad each year for work, and that 10 million currently live and work abroad. It is estimated that over 2.2 million children ages 15-17 were in the labor force as of 2009, with many occupations being extremely dangerous.
Our Filipino Neighborhood
The stories written below paint a picture of the difficult realities of families living in our surrounding neighborhoods in the Philippines. Thankfully, Arms of Love has been able to reach out and respond to many family's greatest needs.
A family's home was destroyed in the 2013 earthquake. They lack the money to rebuild, are afraid of being inside buildings, and remain living in a tent.
Of the people effected by the earthquake, 56.9% of families have makeshift homes, with unsanitary and unhygienic toilets, which can lead to various diseases.
A mother is desperate to feed her children after losing her job, and is now selling bread. She makes $1 a day.
A rice field is destroyed, and with it a family income and source of food.
41.7% of households live below the poverty threshold.
After a mother lost her home, her 20 year-old daughter accepted employment in Saudi Arabia in order to send money home.
OUR RESPONSE TO COMMUNITY NEED
In response to the mass devastation and need created by the 7.2 earthquake, Arms of Love has partnered alongside the neighborhood “barangay” government and churches to help provide supplemental care to families in the area.
Each month, Arms of Love provides funding for nutritious meals and supplemental programs in three locations.
A fourth location is slated to open later this year. The children living in Arms of Love often visit the Community Development Program and help serve food, sing praise and worship songs, and participate in games with the other children.
Click here to learn about supporting our Community Development Program in the Philippines.
"The poor give us much more than we give them. They’re such strong people, living day to day with no food. And they never curse, never complain. We don’t have to give them pity or sympathy. We have so much to learn from them."