At the conclusion of this special anniversary year, we wish to express our heartfelt appreciation to each of our supporters who have helped make a difference in the lives of children in need over the last 20 years! We hope you will enjoy the below photos of just a few of the children helped this past year, and we look forward to working together to help many more deserving children in the future.
Number 10: Charity
Millions of children around the world live without access to electricity, plunging their world into darkness when the sun goes down. In addition to not being able to do homework at night, there are also significant safety issues involved. Many families use kerosene lanterns or candles as a light source, which can sadly lead to fires and burns. It can also be quite dangerous for children to walk outside after nightfall. For the last five years, LWB has been distributing safe and durable solar lanterns to children in remote locations. We love this photo of beautiful Charity, taken last month in northwest Uganda. In this rural region, most homes have dried grass roofs, which are quick to burn if an open flame gets near. In 2023, LWB provided over 4,200 Solarpuff lanterns, for children living in Uganda, Guatemala, and Ukraine. For kids like Charity, having their own sustainable light is a real gift of security and comfort.
Number 9: Vicente and River
Vicente and River are both part of our early childhood program in Sokhem Village, Cambodia. When we first got involved in this rural village, malnutrition and infant mortality were high, while primary school enrollment was low due to the high risk of child trafficking. LWB’s primary school, built right in the heart of the village, now has over 180 students enrolled. Our early childhood program ensures that even the youngest babies and toddlers in the village receive the nutrition and interventions they need to thrive. This year, thanks to our supporters, we had a special shipment of new toys delivered to our preschool to inspire creativity and imaginary play. The kids in our program loved all the new dolls, building blocks, and art supplies in their classrooms, but dressing up as doctors, princesses, and super heroes is definitely their favorite!
Number 8: Minnie
We first met Minnie when she was 8 years old. This beautiful little girl had continually struggled with illness due to multiple heart defects, which sadly led to severe pulmonary hypertension. Her failing health caused her to fall behind in school, and she no longer had the strength to play with friends. We sent Minnie to India in 2021, where the surgeons first closed an opening between the arteries in her heart. She returned to Uganda to grow stronger for the second operation now needed. This sweet photo was taken in January of this year when she had returned to the hospital in India to close a second large hole in her heart. Unfortunately, the doctors determined her pulmonary pressures were still too high for her to safely undergo surgery. Minnie is currently on medication to treat this condition, and we hope her pressures come down soon so she can have the operation she needs to save her life. Minnie dreams of one day becoming a nurse or a teacher, and we’re committed to standing with her to see her heart finally healed.
Number 7: Annalise
We love this photo of Annalise in Cambodia, a third grade student at our Believe in Me Rangsei School. Annalise lives at a local landfill, helping her family earn money by collecting bottles and cans. Annalise is part of our comprehensive efforts to change the lives of the children at the landfill site, receiving not only a quality education but also hot meals and medical care as well. Though the journey to our school can be long, especially during rainy season, she enthusiastically comes to class each day. Annalise is one of the top students in her grade, and she is especially gifted in math. Her teacher says she loves asking questions and is a kind and friendly little girl with lots of friends. We can’t wait to see all the great things ahead for this remarkable little girl in the future! !
Number 6: Aalam
There is an old saying that the eyes have one language everywhere; so it’s clear why we chose this beautiful photo of 5-year-old Aalam to be in our Top 10. Aalam is part of our Believe in Me Anand Center in India, which is located at a city landfill site. Children who attend this program receive essential education and nutritional support. In fact, Aalam gained 8 kg this past quarter! He tells us that he’s happiest when he gets recognition from his teacher and saddest if he ever has to miss school. Aalam has recently discovered his artistic side at the center, spending a lot of time drawing trees and fish-filled ponds, but outdoor time is still his favorite… especially if he gets to play soccer or fly kites!
Number 5: Oliver
Oliver was born in 2016 with Down syndrome and a failing heart. His lips were a deep blue, and he often had severe breathing distress. Sadly, when his devoted parents searched for help, every hospital they visited turned Oliver down due to poverty. Our director in China happened upon Oliver’s mom crying in a hospital hallway one day, after yet another rejection. We knew we needed to do everything possible to keep this beautiful family together. Through our Unity Initiative, we sent Oliver to the Children’s Hospital of Fudan University in Shanghai, where he underwent a very complex heart repair when he was 18 months old. Because we love checking in with the children healed in our medical program, earlier this year we went to visit Oliver at home. Now 7 years old, this joy-filled little boy is the absolute light of his family. His adoring mom happily told us that Oliver is full of energy, now attending preschool and speaking in short sentences. The entire family expressed their gratitude once more to the LWB community for believing in Oliver and supporting his life-saving surgery.
Number 4: Anna and Maria
This past October, an ambitious shoe distribution project unfolded in Jumaytepeque, a quaint farming town in the Santa Rosa region of Guatemala. This community holds a unique significance as it is home to the Xinca, a Mayan indigenous people with a rich history dating back for centuries. Despite facing the challenges of linguistic erosion, the Xinca are determined to preserve their communal system and other cultural traditions. This special shoe project benefited more than 600 children, including Anna and Maria shown in this wonderful photo. Each child who came to see our team received custom-fit shoes, which were sourced locally. Their joy in receiving such a personal and individualized gift was truly heartwarming to see.
Number 3: Sebastian
Okay, how cute is Sebastian? Every time we see this photo, we have to laugh. We know it’s hard to believe, but this roly-poly little boy entered our healing homes program two years ago as a premature infant. His orphanage called us for help after he developed pneumonia and was diagnosed with a congenital heart defect. Sebastian improved quickly once in our healing home, putting on more than a pound his very first month. By month two, Sebastian developed chubby cheeks and started flashing his signature smile. Thankfully, the hole in Sebastian’s heart closed on its own, and then he really began to thrive. Now 2 years old, Sebastian is a happy guy who loves his nanny and is quick to laugh. He babbles and gives kisses, and he only cries if he’s hungry. Sebastian is working on his standing skills and is even attempting a few steps while holding onto things. This once little preemie now weighs in at a robust 33 pounds!
Number 2: Shirley and Patrick
Shirley and Patrick are part of our Cambodia foster care program, coming to LWB after being surrendered to the government by their parents. These adorable twins are two peas in a pod, keeping their foster mom on her toes as they continually concoct new adventures. Shirley is a real comedian, usually making silly faces when she has her picture taken. Patrick thinks Shirley is hilarious unless she tries to kiss him on the cheek! We love this photo of the two of them together, as it shows so clearly the special bond they share. We are now in touch with Patrick and Shirley’s birth mother, and our hope is that reunification will someday be possible. Until that time, these lively twins will continue to find support and love with their caring (and unflappable) foster family.
Number 1: Destiny
Destiny is part of our Uganda Foster Care program, and almost every photo taken of her this year was Top 10 worthy because her happy personality always shines through. We adore this photo of her from this past February, especially since Destiny came into our full-time care as a malnourished and anemic 6-month-old. With lots of love and support by her foster family, including several older sisters who truly dote on her, she has grown into a healthy and confident little girl. Destiny will reunify with birth relatives this coming year, which is always a primary goal of our foster care program. Her foster family will miss her immensely, but they have been counseled about the importance of safe reunification and permanency from the very first training they received to be LWB foster parents. They are prepared to do whatever is best for this wonderful little girl.