Love Without Boundaries has brought hope to thousands of vulnerable children over the years, but many more need our help. Join with us to make a very real and tangible difference in their lives.
The most prevalent birth defects in children around the world are congenital heart issues. This year we piloted an international cardiac initiative, which brought US and Chinese heart surgeons together to provide operations for children in Anhui, China. We also held a successful joint cardiac project in Poipet, Cambodia with team members from China, Cambodia, and the US. In all, 583 children from four rural villages and the city slum were evaluated by heart doctors and echocardiogram specialists.
Preserving and enhancing parent-child bonds is a critical part of reducing the number of children who end up in orphanage care. LWB's work in this area began over ten years ago with the establishment of our Unity Initiative to provide surgery for rural families in China. This year our work expanded in Uganda, where it's estimated that over 80% of children living in orphanage care have known relatives. In partnership with the Tender Hearts Baby Home, through counseling, supervised visits, and income-generating support, we helped transition twenty-two children from the baby home back to their birth families. A further eight children were reunified in Cambodia. In China, our Unity Initiative provided life-saving surgeries to 28 impoverished children.
Cleft lip and palate are two of the most common congenital anomalies for children around the world, and in 2018 LWB returned to China for a highly successful cleft surgery exchange. In partnership with the Gansu Provincial Hospital in Lanzhou, surgeons from the US and China performed cleft operations for 60 rural and orphaned children. In addition, specialized training was provided on both nursing and anesthesia best practices.
It's estimated that almost 80% of children living in the rural regions of Cambodia have little access to medical care, which is why Cambodia's child mortality rate remains one of the highest in southeast Asia. As our work in the western region expanded, we saw an enormous need for both urgent and routine pediatric healthcare for the children in our programs. LWB now has a full-time medic on staff in the villages, with an on-site clinic. US physicians traveled to Cambodia this year to provide additional training, and our medic provided community classes to local villagers on topics such as wound care and broken bones. This essential project saw 574 pediatric visits in 2018.
We believe every child deserves to grow up in a family; so one of our primary goals when we began work in Uganda was to implement foster care. We began our projects with abandoned children in Uganda with the Mukono Baby Room, to provide life-saving care to babies left in often critical condition. Once those children are nursed to health, however, transitioning them to loving families in the local community is best for their continued development. While our newest foster care program only began in mid-2018, we are thrilled that six children have already been placed into foster homes. With additional education and community events to encourage local families to consider fostering, we know the number of available foster homes for children will continue to rise in the coming year.
Over the last 15 years, LWB has helped many teens who grew up in Chinese orphanage care but were never matched with permanent families. These young adults usually end up on their own sometime between the ages of 18 and 24, and we are committed to helping them best prepare for that day. As part of our work to help these older teens, LWB was honored to once again host a summer Life Skills Camp specifically designed for those who grew up in orphanage care. Campers attended class sessions on topics such as alcohol and drug use, self-esteem, sex education, money management, and online safety. We had many more orphanages wishing to send their teens than spots available, and so this is a project we hope to grow in the future.
This past year was filled with accomplishments for the children in our programs, as we’ve further embraced our model to support not only orphaned children but those in struggling families as well. In March, I visited a cardiac hospital we partner with in China. Tiny Jerome, an orphaned baby with Down Syndrome, had recently undergone surgery with LWB. When I held him, the fragility of his life was so evident as I could see every rib along the large incision down his chest. I was giving thanks to those who’d made his life-saving surgery possible when I walked into the room of a little girl named Mindy, whose rural family had applied for our help as well. She’d received heart surgery the day before, and her young, single father was holding her in his arms. He’d already lost his wife, and he’d desperately requested help for his daughter because he didn’t want to lose her as well. It was extremely humbling to see the worry and love on this father’s face as he cradled his little girl. The grandmother was also there, and she came and embraced me tightly with tears in her eyes. These are such emotional moments, when pure love for a child is so palpable. It’s the type of love every child on earth so deeply deserves. These are also moments, however, that show the cruelness of poverty when it comes to children’s lives.
Extreme poverty cuts off medical care, nutrition, and access to education...and even leads families to relinquish children to orphanages when they see no other solutions. Over the last 15 years, because of your support, our efforts for children have grown from caring solely for the orphaned to understanding we must care for the vulnerable. To help children from hard places, we’ve opened village schools, created foster care, and implemented multiple programs to restore their health. We’ve built authentic relationships on the ground to not only help children without families but to do everything we can to keep kids safely in the ones they have. It’s a universal truth that more than anything else, kids want to feel loved, and you are making that possible. As you read this report and look at the faces of some of the children you've helped this past year, may you feel the genuine hope you're bringing. Your investment into LWB's work is unlocking the unlimited potential inside every child, and I can't thank you enough for partnering with us.
Chief Executive Officer
In early 2018, LWB was contacted by an orphanage about a newborn baby they’d received in critical condition. Mya was severely dehydrated and struggling to breathe. We immediately rushed her to a top children’s hospital, where she was diagnosed with a potentially fatal condition known as Esophageal Atresia. EA is a life-threatening surgical emergency. Somehow Mya had survived for over a week, despite being found outside in the cold. Following her surgery and hospitalization, Mya came to live in our Heartbridge Healing Home, where she’s now the picture of health. As you watch her short video, we want you to know that her transformation was only possible because of our wonderful supporters, and we give thanks that her precious life was saved.
1,390 pediatric medical procedures provided
1,000 mosquito nets distributed to prevent malaria and dengue fever
583 heart screens during our first Cambodian cardiac initiative
113 cleft surgeries completed
50 abandoned children received care in our 3 healing homes
32 pediatric heart surgeries arranged
6 countries where LWB assisted with medical care: Cambodia, China, Ethiopia, India, Myanmar, and Uganda
Megan grew up in the rural countryside of Cambodia, in a region where over 95% of children never finish high school. Due to immense poverty, her three older brothers all dropped out of school after 6th grade to search for work. Megan dreamed of a different future, however, which arose from a family tragedy. Years earlier, her older sister became extremely ill and sadly passed away. Megan believed her sister would not have died if she had received quality medical care; so she set a goal to not only get her high school diploma but to someday become a nurse. It was extremely difficult for Megan to finish high school, as her father became sick after her sister’s death and never fully recovered. She faced continual pressure to stop attending school and find a job, but she held fast to her dream to someday work in the medical field. Last year Megan became the first in her family to graduate from high school. She then spent months studying for the national entrance exam to Cambodia’s medical colleges. Megan scored so well that she was offered a spot in the highly competitive pharmacy program. She’s now a first-year student of health sciences on a full LWB scholarship. Megan is a wonderful example to a whole new generation of little girls in her village that with hard work and determination, they too can achieve their dreams.
705 children enrolled in LWB education programs
40 full college scholarships offered to Cambodian youth
35 orphaned teens attended our Life Skills Camp
100% of children living at a local dump site now enrolled in school
1st children's library opened in Rangsei Village
Evan is a sweet little boy who has faced a lot of upheaval and uncertainty in his short life, including time in a Ugandan orphanage. Craving love and personalized attention, Evan began to struggle and his emotional health deteriorated. In the summer of 2018, we placed Evan with a caring foster family in the local community. Although initially withdrawn, Evan has bloomed with a stable family of his very own. He loves having an older brother to play with, and he’s become deeply bonded to his foster mom. He proudly calls himself “Mummy’s baby,” and she is happy to give him the faithful attention and understanding he needs after suffering so much prior neglect. Upon entering foster care, there was concern raised regarding Evan’s academic abilities at school. He was quite behind his classmates and seemed intimidated by his teachers. With support and encouragement from his foster family, however, he has greatly improved in class work and in how he relates to other children. We know the secure attachment he is finally forming through foster care will impact his life long-term.
208 children placed with foster parents
26 adoptions from foster care
21 children served through Safe Haven for those trafficked or abused
12 program locations (9 in China, 2 in Cambodia, 1 in Uganda)
100% of kids referred to LWB, living on the streets, are now in family care
Eight-year-old Noah attends our Believe in Me Sokhem Village School in rural Cambodia. When LWB began working in this remote area, we learned of a multitude of challenges faced by the children here, including extreme poverty and chronic hunger. When Noah first enrolled in our program, his weight didn’t register on the World Health Organization’s growth charts. He also showed clear signs of Kwashiorkor, a severe protein malnutrition that leads to stunting. Many children with this condition even have their dark hair turn brittle and blonde. An essential part of our nutrition program in this village is providing children who often go hungry with both breakfast and lunch at the Sokhem Village school. We employ local widows to prepare the hot meals each day. After receiving support through LWB’s school nutrition program, Noah has gained 8.4 pounds, and we look forward to his continued progress.
92,000 nutritious meals served to hungry children
10,000 warm bottles of formula for orphaned babies
109 cans of medical formula provided to failure-to-thrive infants
43 cases of cleft bottles delivered to hospitals, orphanages, and rural families
While LWB is not an adoption agency, we passionately believe that every orphaned child deserves a permanent family of his or her own. In addition to encouraging every orphanage we assist to file paperwork on the kids in their care, we provided 8 adoption grants in 2018 and continued our Adopt Special Needs website. We’re always overjoyed to see children in our programs find permanent homes, such as little Camilla, a preemie who received help through our healing homes program. After being nursed to full health, she was adopted by a local Chinese family and will now grow up in the country of her birth. We were also happy to see the first domestic adoption from our Cambodia foster care program in 2018 as well.
McKade is 15 years old and a freshman in high school. He was so excited to become a big brother when his family began to grow through adoption. As his new brothers and sister from China were born with medical needs, he watched as they spent many days in the hospital. He quickly realized how much they enjoyed spending time in the playrooms and how those special rooms made hard days possible. McKade wanted to see similar playrooms set up in Chinese hospitals since most children spend all day in their beds there; so he got approval to raise funds as part of his Eagle Scout project. Using our online fundraising platform, he’s now very close to meeting his goal of $10,000. He can't wait to see children in China enjoy new hospital playrooms as much as his siblings do at home. We’re so proud of this remarkable teen whose hard work will soon brighten the lives of children facing illness.
All of LWB’s programs around the globe are managed by local citizens with a passion for helping children. We believe that building real and authentic community relationships is the most impactful way to change lives long-term.
I grew up in a small town in Fujian Province, in southern China. I went to Beijing for university in 1990. After graduating, I became a teacher but then started to work as a facilitator for adoption groups from 1997. For the next 10 years, I helped over 1000 families with their adoptions. In 2007, I joined LWB first as the manager for their nutrition program, and then expanded my work to both foster care and medical as well. From my work with LWB, I deeply understand our belief that “Every child counts.” In these years, LWB helped thousands of children in different programs. I have seen malnourished children become chubby and strong with the good formula and rice cereal we provide. I have seen so many sick children find healing. In our foster program, I have seen children become happy and loving with the great care of their foster families. All these works changed the lives of these children. I believe, though they might be too young to understand or remember anything that LWB has done for them, they will benefit from this love for their whole lives. I am always very proud to be part of LWB and to be part of the lives of so many children. This is an experience I will remember forever.
Amanda Spangler, our Cambodia Foster Care Manager, is one of LWB’s incredible volunteers who work each day to help the children in our programs receive the care they deserve. Amanda and her husband are part of the military community and have four children, including three from the countries where LWB works (Uganda, Cambodia, and China). Their daughter Jia received life-saving treatment through LWB’s medical program, and through that connection Amanda learned about our ongoing projects to help vulnerable children. When we asked Amanda why volunteering is important to her life, she said, “I really believe in giving back, and I really believe in LWB. I've been around enough charities to know LWB is the real deal, and volunteering with LWB has only shown me that even more. The people at LWB really care about every child and being able to be a part of that is amazing. We knew we were done adopting, but I don't think I'll ever be done being an advocate for children without family. Volunteering with foster care is the perfect spot for me because I really believe in family care. I've seen firsthand with my own children how institutionalization has affected them, and the more children we can get out of institutions and into families...whether that be through adoption, foster care, or family reunification...the better. I am proud to be a part of those efforts.”
155 volunteers from 9 countries: Australia, Cambodia, Canada, China, Ireland, Singapore, Spain, UK, and the US (with 38 states represented)
Average length of volunteer service: 5.34 years
883 total years of service for current volunteers
LWB's projects have the primary purpose of impacting the lives of children, but the ripple effects into the local communities are broad as well. In this 90 second video, we invite you to meet 7-year-old Carolyn and see how your support has changed not only her life but her family’s as well.
As we reflect on the many joys and accomplishments of 2018, we give thanks to our wonderful donors and supporters who have made it possible to bring loving care and healing to some of the most vulnerable children from around the world. At the same time, we recognize that our work is far from finished, as the needs remain great. We look forward to 2019 and the many opportunities to improve the lives of precious children who often face a very uncertain future. In doing so, we promise you, our partners in serving orphaned and impoverished children, to remain true to our mission and work to fulfill our purpose in this world.
Specifically, we PROMISE you that we will:
Maintain the highest ethical standards in all of our program areas around the world, always seeking to better serve the children while protecting them from further exploitation and harm.
Continue to improve our processes, procedures, and policies to maintain highly effective practices that best meet the needs of those in our care.
Finally, we promise to always uphold the highest standards of financial accountability, ensuring that our donors and their wishes are honored.