Every Child Counts

Letter from the CEO

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.

Amy Eldridge

Chief Executive Officer

Stories of Impact

Healing Success

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.

Key figures:

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

Education Success

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.

Key figures:

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

Foster Care Success

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.

Key figures:

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

Nutrition Success

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.

Key figures:

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

Adoption

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.

Local Hero

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.

Start your own Fundraiser

Meet Cindy one of our directors in China

Volunteer Spotlight

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.”

Key figures:

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

Building Community

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.

Looking Forward

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.

Please join us today in our commitment to a better future for the children in our care. Together, we can turn HOPE into REALITY, and that’s a promise worth keeping!

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