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WWO SEES SIGNIFICANT RESULTS IN ITS VIETNAM PROGRAM
3/20/2014

Worldwide Orphans (WWO) is thrilled to announce that its “Rainbow Project” in Vietnam is significantly reducing risk factors associated with child abandonment among families in need. WWO’s monitoring and evaluation team recently reported that over a six-month period 23% - 54% of at-risk youth showed significant improvement in six keys domains of well-being that are linked to parental stress and child abandonment.

In partnership with the government and community based-organizations in Ho Chi Minh City, the Rainbow Project provides nutritional counseling, referrals for medical care, assistance with school registration, psychosocial support, guided play activities and life skills training to over 1,000 orphans, at-risk children and their families.

Rainbow Project case managers recently surveyed 289 children upon entering the program using the Child Status Index (CSI). The CSI measures child wellbeing in six key domains: food and nutrition, health, psychosocial, shelter and care, protection, and education and skills. After six months, many children significantly improved in every domain of adjustment while very few children (less than 4% in any given indicator) got worse.  Across the six domains, the following indicators showed improvement:

*51% of children improved their food security  

*36% of children improved their health status   

*44% of children improved their emotional health

*31% of children improved their ability to access health care

*53% of children improved their social behavior

*31% of children improved their living/shelter conditions                                        

*29% of children improved the level of care, and support from an adult at home    

*23% of children decreased incidents of abuse and exploitation      

*22% of children improved their access to legal protection

*13% of children improved their education performance

By supporting the wellbeing of children, WWO’s Rainbow Project helps families struggling to raise their children—a vital step toward preventing the relinquishment of children to orphanages. “These significant findings highlight the strength of WWO’s approach to children’s programming in Vietnam,” shares Dr. Anthony Salandy, WWO Director of Monitoring, Evaluation, Accountability and Learning Division. “They are especially significant because poor performance in the areas of adjustment in which children showed improvement is linked to parental stress and child abandonment.” Rainbow Project is a vital program that serves WWO’s mission of helping children to become healthy, independent, productive members of their communities.

WHY SHOULD WE INVEST IN EARLY CHILD DEVELOPMENT?
12/23/2013

Emilia Kardzhilova

WWO Program Manager in Bulgaria

On November 15-17, I participated in the Quality of Early Childhood Services International Workshop in Budapest, Hungary organized by the International Step by Step Association (ISSA) under the Romani Early Years Network (REYN). I was lucky to have this opportunity to share knowledge and experience on early childhood services and working with local communities with colleagues from Eastern Europe.

The goal of the workshop was to build a common understanding of what quality in early childhood services truly means, and to foster an open dialogue among participants on this topic. Participants included parents, peers, and colleagues in the field of early childhood services.

The key message of the workshop was that ‘all early childhood services should nurture the potential of each child, to be available to all children, especially the most disadvantaged, and should not be of poor quality!’

We are working with services and their users – our main users are the children and the parents. Thus, one of the most important discussions was the importance of speaking and thinking from the service users’ perspective. Another discussion included how stakeholders can participate in quality improvement, not only in development. How can providers involve others to improve the quality of the services?  And what are the skills we can develop in order to recognize the quality practices in our field as well.

In policy debates, but also on the work floor, we often hear that children are so important and that they are the future of our society. At the same time, we also know that they are a lot more than just the future, that indeed, they are human beings – they are here and now, with their own temperament and competences, their own stories, experiences and life events.

Child centeredness is a concept that has been promoting the uniqueness of each child. Logically speaking, we are uniquely different. We have to meet each individual child’s needs which are unique ones. Quality practice means the practices that support child’s development. The image of the child is a construct. It is an individual construct that each of us has based on our culture that may lead to prejudices. The child is seen differently in different periods of our century, and the image has changed.

Many researchers, including brain researchers, emphasize the importance of prenatal and post birth development. We need to adapt a child-centred individualized approach following the principles of quality. We can do this by creating an environment – a spirit of respecting every child.

The discussions that were impressive came around the topic of ‘Parents’ and their responsibility to children, how to approach them and how to be their partner. Sometimes parents/caregivers do not know how to approach children. The greatest parental concern is how to control their children instead of how to support them. It is not all about safety and the discipline. Learning and development process is based on interactions and the quality of those interactions is crucial. 

Interactions are a central topic, from object interaction to human being interaction, learning experience marks every day of a child’s life. Positive interactions helps the child believe, while still growing, that there is someone supporting him/her, someone to believe in him/her. Every single interaction has its own clear position and role in the child’s life. We need to know how to cooperate with other adults around the child, so that they could learn through positive interactions.

The workshop further focused on how early childhood services could provide a coherent framework for quality practices that support healthy development, involvement and well-being, while also being supportive to the parents. Children have a great potential that we, the parents, the caregivers and the service provider, have to nurture.

The conclusion came with no doubts that we have to provide this type of care to children because it is in our power!

The second day of the workshop was devoted to the ISSA’s Principle of Quality Pedagogy. The ISSA’s Principles of Quality of Services were transferred from centre-based services to community and home-based services. The strengths and the needs to be changed for improving the quality of services were also underlined.

The final session of the workshop highlighted solutions and participants had the chance to work together to exploring various ways to implement knowledge into practice and draft their own action plans.

It was a wonderful experience of learning, sharing and cooperation for all at REYN. On our journey home we eagerly began planning how to put the insights into practice. It was great to listen and share stories and experiences from across the world. This is a great platform for good practice to be developed to improve outcomes for Roma families and children. Sharing our experiences with both challenges and successes helped us to find solutions.  Today we all feel that are in the same boat... and that we could all arrive at a successful destination even though we know there will be storms and difficulties.

 

THE OX IS SLOW BUT THE EARTH IS PATIENT
10/10/2013

The Storm family’s first visit to a WWO In-Country Program in Ayiti (Haiti): 29 Sept – 3 Oct 2013

By Martin Storm, WWO Board Co-Chair 

SEPTEMBER 29, 2013 – DAY 1

Our life is a miracle in its conception and birth, but an accident in its circumstance!

An average person born in Australia can expect high-class health care and education, abundant and nutritious food and clean water, affordable housing, quality public transport, excellent employment opportunities, family security, limited conflict, access to key infrastructure, participation in the arts and sports & recreation, and a stable, democratic political system. The sun seems to shine there even when it’s cloudy...

But Ayiti is different. We drive by vast tent cities, crumbling post-earthquake buildings, rubble and filth where millions of people still live permanently, all cloaked in depressing grey... I see scrawny scavenging dogs, malnourished children whose lifeless stare doesn’t see me, and overly skinny teenagers roaming the streets looking for something, anything. I see that a family lives underneath a jacked-up broken down truck, perilously unperturbed. We stop by a Catholic Cathedral, collapsed except for its haunting exoskeleton. In its fractured shadow single mothers’ gather with their babies, a hollow-man shuffles, and a lone butterfly wings away. When we drive on I’m feeling anxious, absurdly anticipating a horde of revolutionaries careening past in jeeps and unloading their Kalashnikovs’ wantonly into the sky. I find myself thanking a god I don’t believe in for what I don’t see – the disease, the abuse and the slavery.

It’s hotter than the sun in Ayiti, and colder than the moon...

SEPTEMBER 29, 2013 – DAY 2

Our first day of WWO education began with a gentle walk in the mountains an hour above Port au Prince to visit WWO’s programs at the local Kenscoff Community Centre. Children between 0-5 years drew pictures and made footprints, and then enjoyed a reading of Babar in the Toy Library. There was interest and spirit and these very young children engaged to the extent that each was able. I couldn’t help notice how quiet many children were and I found myself thankful for the occasional outcry. We met some of the WWO youth volunteers acting as surrogate parents for a few hours every day, and we wouldn’t have known the difference given the affection and caring shown. The Storm family appeared cautious. We acted as interested observers but clearly unsure of how far to reach out in this first encounter.

In the afternoon, and armed with a bagful of jumping ropes, Frisbees and Aussie-Rules footballs, we walked even higher into Kenscoff to meet about one hundred 6-16 yo children for outdoor recreation. Coming from a number of local orphanages and schools all of these boys and girls came from extremely desperate backgrounds. After a group warm-up of songs and stretching the fun began. In a moment, the children exploded into an energetic, picturesque disorder. They were laughing, smiling and playing. They were kicking and catching the footballs as if they had played with them their whole lives. They jumped rope and put on a puppet show. And thankfully the Storm family was fully involved. My 25-yo son Jacob was run ragged by an 8-yo boy playing football continuously for 20 minutes.

At first glance, Ayiti was repulsive and frightening. But away from the traumas of Port au Prince and in the arms of WWO, this day was a very positive experience. And who are these WWO youth volunteers who lead and love these children?

OCTOBER 1, 2013 – DAY 3

Today the sun is scorching. We drove two hours down the mountain into the peak hour traffic of Port au Prince, and Sunday’s horrors came flashing back. I won’t go on.

We first visited a hospital and a ward of some 10 children with severe disabilities including cerebral palsy. WWO volunteers come here every day to provide care and love for the children and provide relief for the caregivers. They know these children: they hold them, play with them, feed them, sing to them, laugh with them, and love them, all for a few hours each day. As a result, and central to WWO’s objectives for orphans, there is a real growing attachment between the volunteers and those severely disabled children. In their absence this ward will be a very sad and lonely place for a child’s life to end. I was deeply moved by my wife Sandra and 9-yo daughter Juliet whom bonded quickly with a little boy named Damien and held him lovingly for the entire visit.

We visited another paediatrics hospital ER - in this case a series of post-earthquake makeshift timber shacks not yet replaced. Lovingly, real parents tried to comfort their suffering children, stroking their heads or backs, or holding their hands. I walked through trying hard not to feel anything whilst secretly (and ashamedly) plotting my escape. When I did exit I was surprised to find that I wasn’t the first adult out. The ER was harrowing... As we walked back to our transport it began to rain. But none of us seemed to mind; it offered a cleansing of sorts for what we just experienced. Unfortunately, for the children of Ayiti, no such release.

In the afternoon we visited a local feeding centre. Desperate women with their babies relentlessly knocked at the steel convent door, hopeful of food. We shuffled in expecting the worst and found some 50 children. Each one of us found a child to hold and comfort. I still proudly see my 15-yo daughter Skala carrying a beautiful little boy whilst another little girl hung on to her so tightly that she couldn’t leave that crib. I had a chance to speak to a staff member and learn a little more of their challenges. In the proceeding weeks they had a large group of children with cholera, so they were now relieved to have chemically disinfected the ward and to be back to dealing with the malnourished and dehydrated. Not every child will leave this place but most will, which is good for Ayiti.

From initially confronting my own fears to eventually not wanting to leave, today was an emotional rollercoaster for me personally.

OCTOBER 2, 2013 – DAY 4

Our last day began with another lovely group walk to the best local Kenscoff Hotel (between 2-3 stars by western standards) to attend WWO’s Volunteers Appreciation Ceremony. A beautiful 2-hour ceremony of cheers, songs, dances, speeches, and presentations ensued. The Storm family participated heartily now and at every opportunity. In-Country Manager Melissa spoke beautifully as a leader, teacher, mentor and friend to the older and newest volunteers. Dr. Jane Aronson did likewise, as did staff management. These volunteers are central to WWO’s activities, progress and success in the lives of orphan and vulnerable children in Ayiti. They mostly balance WWO work with formal education. Through WWO they are learning valuable skills in arts, sports, and dance, all critical to playing with, teaching and loving children. They are responsible and accountable for the welfare of the child in their care, and they take it very seriously. We have about one hundred Volunteers so far, so we only need five thousand more to make huge progress in Ayiti.

Our last formal visit was to a local Kenscoff orphanage of some 25 children where WWO provides additional care and support. This was a fantastic visit. We played sport, games, laughed, sang and generally partied together. All of this again ably led by WWO volunteers. Each of the Storm family members made a new best friend or two and we all wanted to stay forever, or take the children back to Australia with us. Neither was possible, but it will be an indelible memory burned within our collective family psyche.

OCTOBER 3, 2013 – DAY 5

We have an early exit so we drive down the hill to the Port au Prince airport in the dawn light. I now have time to reflect.

What happened to the world’s pledges of relief money? Did they ever arrive? Mostly not! So progress will have to come in incremental steps.

Ayiti has some ten million people living on a small footprint island, with a primitive economy, an unfunded and ineffective government, without a civil society, almost non-existent public education, a culture of child abandonment, and nearly 1000 orphanages with over 140 of them listed for closure due to inhumane conditions. This country is devastated and in ruin.

Yet in all of that, the human spirit wills itself to shine. I see WWO volunteers, their love and the beautiful work they do. In their eyes, I see WWO children’s smiling faces and new children trying to attach and engage. I now know why we must do more to deepen and broaden our programs in Ayiti. I remind myself, “The ox is slow but the earth is patient.”

 

Giving Hope to Children Affected by HIV/AIDS in Vietnam
11/29/2012

by Thuy Ngo, WWO Vietnam Country Director

In Vietnam, there are more than 60,000 children affected by HIV/AIDS, many of whom have been orphaned because of this disease, which results in a multitude of other risks. Being removed from parental care has put these children at risk for developmental delays and poverty.  

The WWO project “Psychosocial Support Services to Children Affected by HIV/AIDS,” known by stakeholders as the Rainbow Project, has addressed the psychosocial needs of this population of children since 2009.   Thanks to the project’s interventions, more than 1,000 children living in Ho Chi Minh City and in An Giang province have received services that help them and their families enhance self-esteem, develop optimism, and build resilience against the hardships of HIV/AIDS discrimination and everyday challenges.

In the case of T.A., a young boy of 14 years of age, his plight was amplified because both of his parents were infected by HIV/AIDS.  Furthermore, they were responsible for supporting their own parents (the boy’s grandparents), along with his sister, who is a single teenage mother of two children.  After his father’s recent death, T.A.’s mother struggled alone to make ends meet, in spite of her own health condition.  Facing this tribulation, T.A. was forced to drop out of school to help support the whole household. 

The WWO project team learned of T.A.’s challenges and provided timely support to aid him during this stressful and difficult time.  In the past few months, T.A. has received continuous counseling and has been encouraged to join the children’s club activities, which have helped connect him with peers facing similar challenges.  T.A. also received a food package and tuition allowance to help reduce the economic pressure on his mother.   In addition, a benefactor, discovered by the project team, has supported T.A. with a school stipend.  At the same time, T.A. has been attending a computer class specially designed by the WWO team for vulnerable children.  The class not only provides T.A. and his classmates with basic information technology, it helps them foster ideas for future careers. 

It is thanks to the joint effort between the WWO team in Vietnam and other stakeholders that T.A. has returned to school and regained his self-esteem and optimism for the future.  At the end of the first computer module, when each of the students was asked to share their ideas about future employment, T.A. was very clear in his presentation that he would like to become an informatics engineer to help support his family by designing great projects to serve society.   The team felt extremely rewarded with T.A.’s success story, but they know their job is not yet complete as long as there are other children like T.A. that have not yet been helped.    

From the Field: Camp Addis Update
7/27/2012

Report from Camp Addis

by Sofia Arasini, WWO-SeriousFun Day Camp Field Consultant

Camp Ethiopia 2012We’re coming up on the last day of what has been a spectacular week. I was prepared for greatness, and Camp Addis didn’t fail to deliver.The program is really so strong in so many areas. The logistics of the whole operation are seamless, and making sure 70 campers and more than 30 staff get in and out safely each day is no easy task. Food is always on time (and really, really good!) and materials are well kept (the storeroom is dreamy) and arranged by session.

The success of this program is really thanks to Lemlem Tale
(WWO Academy Psychologist and camp co-director) and Selam Wagaw (WWO Youth Club Coordinator and camp co-director) and their commitment and belief in the possibilities of camp. And yes, their enthusiasm and camp spirit has spread to the other members of the leadership team but they are the ones who have really shaped a very strong vision here by putting in a lot of hard work and channeling their creativity.

A little on the Program
In Camp Addis, every activity is very strong in content and facilitation. The activities aren’t just fun, they really do what we always strive for - allowing kids to reflect on teamwork and creative expression. The program director and Selam have placed a lot of emphasis on this, and it shows.

Today was stage time and all the campers were so excited! We had a five minute twist competition, jokes, a play about a royal family and words from the stage night sponsors. Staff was standing behind the audience acting out the steps for the dances and mouthing the words for the plays whilst campers were on stage. So endearing.

A little on the Staff
Notable mention this week goes to the former campers who have successfully made the transition into becoming full time staff members at day camp. Two of the boys are usually there before anyone from the leadership team arrives (7:30 am), they lead everyone in cheers and songs, encourage their campers in everything they do and come to camp every day with a smile. It is HUGE that Camp Addis has so many staff members who have been involved as campers or CITs, and this is testimony to the effect camp has had on their lives.

I am truly very sad to leave Camp Addis in two days. This is a program full of exceptional people (adult and bite size), and I wish I could take them all with me.


 

Graduation in Addis, WWO Style
7/2/2012

Dr. Sophie and graduates 2012

From Eleanor Hartzell, WWO Program Manager
July 1, 2012

Last Friday we had our 5th class of kindergarteners graduate. This year, for the first time ever, 100% of the students moved on to 1st grade. We also had 100% of our 4th graders move on to 5th grade, which is the start of second cycle (like Junior High) here. This is largely due to the huge efforts of our teaching and administrative staff and our special needs program. The graduation was the best I've ever been to and the students had worked very hard on dances, plays, interviews and a fashion show! In total it was four hours long. After the graduation we passed out the first ever WWO Academy (WWOA) yearbook. An exciting day for everyone in the WWOA community.

On Saturday our third group of Youth Club members graduated from their 13 program. Parents, friends and caregivers came to watch the team members put on a show, we passed out certificates and then celebrated with cake.  Some of these same members will go on to be CITs at camp this summer. After the graduation we took the 12 counselors and 4 staff members who have made this program a reality- coming every Saturday since October, out for a thank you lunch. Today everyone is back at work- preparing for leadership team training for camp, which starts next week.

The kids at Des's Village are starting their summer activities today. Some of the older girls are taking English classes in the community, which will be supplemented with tutoring at home. Two volunteers (Georgia and Nuhamin) have been working on a daily activity schedule for the younger kids at Des's Village and a few of the other children have already gone home to visit their families for a few days. We are hoping to confirm internships at a commercial cooking school and mechanics shops for a few of our teens today.

It's rainy and cool and sure doesn't feel like summer here- but all the other signs are there!

Hope you are all well,
Eleanor


 

He's Back - Running for Their Lives!
5/14/2012

Dear Friends,

Last summer, I challenged myself to complete the Philadelphia 24-hour Ultra Marathon (in July, no less) and I challenged you to help me by making a donation to Worldwide Orphans Foundation. I’m passionate about WWO – after all, I’m on the Board, I have chaired the annual benefit gala, and I’m co-chair of the development committee.

But I think that last summer, when I ran 60 miles in 24 hours, a lot of people understood just how passionate I am because they helped me raise more than $53,000 to support my efforts and WWO’s work.

This July 14-15, I’m going to do it all over again because I’m even more convinced that WWO not only saves children’s lives, we transform those lives in ways that are unique. In 2012 alone, our programs will reach more than 35,000 orphans, vulnerable children and those who care for them in Bulgaria, Ethiopia, Haiti, Serbia and Vietnam. Our health and HIV care, camp and camp follow up, primary school, sports and arts, are preparing children to have a future and to meet it with confidence in their own communities.

Every gift helps! For example,

$10 provides a week’s nutrition for a Haitian family

$40 buys an Ethiopian child at the WWO Academy a school uniform

$100 pays a Toy Library librarian for a month in a Bulgarian orphanage

$250 enables a needy child to attend local school in Vietnam for a year

I could go on and on, but I won’t. The bottom line is that I want kids around the world to have the opportunities and advantages my kids and yours take for granted. I believe that we are indeed a global community, and to take that a step further, children are our greatest natural resource – I’m not willing to see one-third of our planet’s 2 billion children lost and I don’t think you are either.

That’s why I’m running again this year and that’s why I’m asking for your support. So please, donate now. Just click here to donate  From the bottom of my heart (and soles) thank you.

Christopher Yanney,

WWO Board Member (and father of four)

 

First Day of Training at St. Damien's in Haiti
5/7/2012

Melissa Willock is WWO's on-the-ground program consultant in Haiti.  Here's her report of the first day of training youth for WWO's Y2C program.

The team did an excellent job of teaching today at St. Damien's hospital!! It was our first day with a group of 15 youth recommended by the hospital to begin to prepare them to work with the abandoned children.

We had quite the adventure trying to arrive as it rained last night and the roads were flooded near the U.S. Embassy. We had to send a team of 3 ahead on motorcycles from near the embassy to arrive on time (Correlus, Djimy, and Iseult). While the rest of us(Rosy, Mykerlange, Yolaine, and myself) waited with the myriad other vehicles to travel the mile and a half.

It was actually a few of the 'rogue' former military that finally got things moving after sitting for almost 2hrs in the horrible water filled traffic jam. Correlus led the team in presenting information, but each one had their part. We will have the next session on 25 May. I think this group, ranging in age from 14-19, will do an excellent job with the children who live at the hospital!!

One of the comments at the end of the day from the youth was that, "we can't just keep this information and work at the hospital. We need to share this good work with so many others in Haiti."

Well done WWO, together we are making a difference...

Visiting Haiti with Dr. Jane Aronson
4/27/2012

A first-hand account by WWO Board member, Andrew Drexel Allen

I’ve been involved with Worldwide Orphans Foundation (WWO) since January 2011 and this was my first trip with the organization. Traveling to Haiti allowed me to see the inner-workings of WWO’s organization and deepen my level of involvement as a Board member. Here are my thoughts and impressions of a journey that showed me why our support of Haiti’s orphans is so vital.

Introduction

Traveling to Haiti was a life changing experience. I ventured with a small group with Dr. Jane Aronson, WWO’s Founder and CEO, and little did I know how impactful it would be. Rarely have I traveled alone. It is such a foreign concept especially at this time in my life. Having three sons and a busy job prohibits me from traveling without family or business associates. I had forgotten the pleasures of an open road filled with new faces, tastes, cultures and experiences. But then how could it not be pleasurable, being in Haiti, being pro-active, feeling enlivened and helpful.

Click here to see Andrew's pictures and read the complete story.

 

 

giggle Announces Best Baby Registry to support WWO
4/6/2012

WWO and giggle (www.giggle.com), announced a new partnership in support of WWO programs and children around the world.   giggle, the one-stop source for today's new parent offers a complete checklist of the best products and resources for a smarter nursery, including its full-service baby registry, giggle’s Best Baby Registry.  Expecting and new parents can turn to giggle for the best of everything to make their transition to parenthood smart, easy, fun – and philanthropic.

To help transform the lives of WWO children, customers can simply register or make a baby registry purchase at giggle (http://www.giggle.com/babyregistry) and a portion of all qualifying registry purchases will automatically be donated to the WWO to fund programs for orphans in developing countries. For more information, go to http://www.giggle.com/wwo.

Dr. Jane Aronson noted that “The partnership between giggle and WWO is the result of our shared dedication to the well-being of children everywhere and of our shared determination to insure that every child has access to good medical care, education, food, and love. Ali Wing and the giggle team are helping us provide all this to children around the world. We have one mission and one vision and together, we can truly transform children’s lives." 

Dr. Jane added that, "I am hopeful this will be the first of many such partnership with our friends from many endeavors.  WWO supporters are a loyal group, and this support is of tremendous significance to us all."

Ali Wing, giggle founder and CEO and author said,

“We are honored to be partnering with Dr. Jane Aronson’s Worldwide Orphans Foundation. She’s the epitome of giggle families. Open to all creeds, combinations and situations, giggle and WWO are committed to making kids’ lives better and families stronger.

Coming from a family of nine, five of whom were adopted from four different cultures, I’ve always understood the importance of sharing what you have. And as the founder of giggle, I’ve known for a long time that if I really wanted to achieve my dreams, I’dbhave to find a way to connect our lucky giggle families to children throughout the world who weren’t born with the same good fortune.”

giggle is a multichannel brand, including an e-commerce site, with 14 stores nationwide, a catalog business, and a baby registry app.  Founded in 2003, giggle carefully edits the selection of furniture, gear, clothing, toys, bedding, baby care, gifts, and more, making sure to keep it simple, stylish and healthy. giggle helps new parents be new parents, and puts the "giggle" into parenthood. For more information and to shop online, visit www.giggle.com or call 800.495.8577.

 

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Rosie Evans: On the Ground in Haiti
2/27/2012

 

WWO consultant and child life specialist Rosie Evans reports on her visit to our site in Haiti where we are establishing our (and Haiti's) first toy library. 

La Rouge – Monday 2/13

 After dipping my paintbrush into a tin of freshly mixed paint, I feel invigorated when the first stroke of red hits the otherwise white shelves.  It is as through the first stroke of change is what sets the wheel in motion.  After careful planning, careful consideration on what you think might happen, you never really know until you make that first move; the commitment to trust change.  The Toy Librarians are invested in this concrete structure and their willingness to work with their hands at this level is a testament to their trust in the long-term goals of the Toy Library.  Typically, in Haiti, you do not step too far outside of the boundaries of your chosen or given profession:  Painters paint, cooks cook, gardeners garden, teachers teach.  So, their willingness to work together while we define this toy library profession is a bit of an inter-cultural exchange.  I am quite sure they have wondered: Who is this person - sent from the WWO Head Office for training- but gets so excited about painting?  Nevertheless, we spend the rest of the morning painting together and listening to all sorts of music.

 In the afternoon, Melissa and I retreat to her “office” or apartment to review goals for the week and the steps needed accomplish them.  In a country where the ‘need’ is so revealing and the ‘potential’ so ripe, we have to be careful that energy and resources are flowing in clear directions to promote change.

 Beljouet - Tuesday 2/14

 After visiting the New York City International Toy Fair and researching several toy companies to support WWO’s toy library project, I was more than pleased to visit with a local toy vendor in Haiti.  Beljouet, located in Port-au-Prince, is a toy store owned and operated by Mr. Jean Ledin.  His toys are made from wood, with bright colors and educational value (shape sorters, counting blocks) – very similar to toys we currently purchase from a vendor in the U.S.  There is also a small selection of puzzles, including a map of Haiti and Haitian children playing.  Mr. Ledin works with an organization that offers job training for adults with disabilities in order to manufacture his toys.  Of further note, Beljouet also writes workbooks for children from 3-5 years with various learning activities in both French and Creole.  These books have been approved by UNICEF and are used in their children’s programming for Haiti.  All of this is music to my toy library ears and the vision of Local Vendor for Haiti begins to emerge in my mind.  There are many benefits to using a local vendor and although the notebooks have a seal of approval from UNICEF, I can’t help but ask the following question as politely as possible,   “The colors of the toys are so beautiful, tell me, what type of paint do you use?”  He can’t remember the word in English, but says “Plomb” in French.  After leaving the store, Melissa and I quickly look it up, only to find that “Plomb” means lead…as in lead paint.  My local vendor dreams begin to fizzle, as I really want to believe that he said “Without plomb.”   Nevertheless, I think if WWO were to invest in a local vendor for toys, it would be worth further clarification with Mr. Ledin and perhaps even a negotiation to use a different type of paint.

***

Saint Damien’s hospital is interested in learning more about theY2C model – not only for camp, but also for 23 children who have been abandoned and are currently residing in a ward until safe placements can be found.  These children stay at the hospital anywhere from a few weeks up to several years.  In the afternoon, Melissa and I meet with Social Workers to discuss the Y2C program and take a tour of the ward for “abandoned children.”  The ward is one large room, with rows of hospital cribs.  Many children in these cribs appeared to have some sort of condition:  hydrocephalous, possible seizure-disorder, or some other genetic condition.  There were also four vibrantly healthy children about two to three years of age, who were pushing a table around the room as though it were a car.  Their play had elements of spontaneity and creativity, but also aggressiveness as they banged the table into the edge of cribs, walls, before one child fell and hurt themselves.  It is difficult to think of the reasons some of these children were abandoned – perhaps their parents did not understand what was happening or perhaps for a family in poverty, a child with special needs is seemingly too much to handle.  We don’t get to be privy to this part of their history, but it is possible now – through a program model, for WWO to be part of their developmental history.  These children and this site certainly fits the criteria for the Y2C – Toy Library Model.  A boy who looks about 4 or 5 is lying in a crib banging his legs back and forth.  I approach with a gentle voice and greet him with one finger stroking the back of his hand.  He stops banging for a moment, as I let him grasp my finger…and I know he is in there

 Exciting Excel Training! - Wednesday 2/15 and Thursday 2/16

 Correlus Francois, WWO’s new program assistant has a background as a teacher and as a director of a primary school.  He was born and raised in Kenscoff and lives just behind the Toy Library.  Correuls is embracing his role as program assistant and eager to work together on Toy Librarian training.  With his salary from WWO, he hopes to go on for further University training in Port-au-Prince and study law or psychology with a focus on human rights.  Today and Thursday, we are working on data entry.  He has a bit of a cold, and I cannot imagine anything worse than doing data entry when you are feeling under the weather.  Nevertheless, he is up for it and so with tea in hand, we begin to work in excel.  I have never really trained someone specifically in a database system before, but use a similar training approach to the toy library training. (Modeling, working together and then having him teach me.)  I realize I am training him specifically to the document we are working in and then teaching him more general excel techniques as things arise.  He picks things up very quickly and we enter the new Y2C youth in the system.  The next step will be for us to discuss the importance of capturing this data as it relates to programming as well as the importance of program monitoring as it relates to Child Protection issues.

 On Thursday afternoon, Correlus and I hold a meeting for the Y2C members to discuss the upcoming Global Arts programming.  Correlus has a commanding “teacher presence” during the meeting as he describes Global Arts and the youth’s commitment to participate in the week’s activities. 

 Jenni – Friday 2/17

 Everyone in Kenscoff, knows Jenni.  She lives just off the main road behind forest green gates.  Stepping onto her property is like stepping into an environmental haven.  Organic strawberries grow out of recycled water bottles, bamboo groves sway in the breeze and various flowers and vegetables bloom.  Jeni works with the local community and teaches environmental classes for children, including the importance of recycling and composting.  We are at Jenni’s to meet a potential drummer for Global Arts.  We stopped by earlier in the week, in order to arrange the meeting for today.  This is how many things happen in Haiti, over a good old-fashioned face-to-face discussion and handshake to seal the deal. 

 Prior to this meeting, Melissa, Correlus, and I held a small certificate ceremony for the Y2C youth.  As many of you know, the youth no longer want to be called volunteers and so it is with great pleasure that I now introduce you to Y2C Members!  They are certainly part of something great!  Several of these members passed a core knowledge exam including a written and practical component, as well as 60 hours of supervised play sessions.  These Y2C members have now graduated to Y2C Supervisors.  They will now mentor new Y2C members and participate in Y2C Trainings.  Correlus handed the certificates out and it is great to feel the structure of programming taking shape!

 Le Weekend

 This weekend I worked on the Saint Damien’s proposal for future programming as well as picking up the Global Arts Team and settling them into Chez Romel and Christian.  We are looking forward to the Global Arts Week!

  

'Spider-Man' Star Andrew Garfield Weaves a Web of Hope for Orphans in Ethiopia
2/1/2012

Dr. Jane Aronson, founder and CEO of Worldwide Orphans Foundation (WWO), and Andrew Garfield, star of the upcoming film ‘The Amazing Spider-Man’, speak in an exclusive interview with Take Part, about WWO's work in transforming the lives of orphaned children.

Andrew traveled to Ethiopia and Haiti with Dr. Aronson to witness her incredible work firsthand. In this video, Andrew and Dr. Aronson talk about their life-changing trip and the exciting work Andrew is doing to help further Dr. Aronson’s mission. See Video.

 

 

 

 

Trusted and Valuable Resource in Haitian Community
1/25/2012

Since Haiti’s devastating earthquake two years ago, WWO has been in the process of adapting our current program models to fit the needs of children who have been affected by the horrific tragedy. Our successful program models of physical and mental health and education support are all desperately needed and relevant in Haiti.  

Melissa Willock, WWO’s Program Coordinator in Haiti, shared the story of WWO’s impact in a Haitian community through her reflections on a recent encounter with a young Haitian mother, who spent her most of her life as a restavek, a child who serves as a domestic servant.see below

SBS' "Waiting for Home" series on inter-country adoption in Australia, featuring Dr. Aronson
1/6/2012

SBS, Australia's Public Radio network, produced "Waiting for Home," a two-part series on inter-county adoption in the country. WWO Founder and CEO Dr. Jane is interviewed extensively in the series.

"New figures from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare show the rates of intercountry adoption in Australia have fallen steadily over the last six-years.

In 2005, more than 430 children were adopted in Australia from overseas. But in the last year that figure has halved. These figures come amid estimates from the United Nations Children's Fund that currently there are more than 163 million orphans in the world. And due to ongoing drought, poverty and disease in developing countries, they say that figure is likely to continue to increase.

Abby Dinham reports in the first of a two-part feature on intercountry adoption."

 

"Waiting for a Home" - Part 1

"Waiting for a Home" - Part 2

 




World AIDS Day (Dec 1) - Statement by Dr. Jane Aronson
12/1/2011

 

"On World AIDS Day, observed December 1, we remember the millions of precious children who have been orphaned by the devastating HIV/AIDS pandemic and who are living with this disease on a daily basis. We also celebrate the significant progress to combat AIDS. Today, lives have been saved and fewer children have become infected with HIV due largely to successful prevention efforts and a dramatic expansion of access to antiretroviral drugs. Yet these gains remain fragile as US and international AIDS programs face major threats to cuts in their programming. Smart investments are still needed to ensure that any progress achieved to date is not reversed.

Worldwide Orphans Foundation (WWO) has been a global leader in the fight against HIV/AIDS. WWO was the first nongovernmental organization to offer antiretrovial drugs specifically for orphans in Ethiopia and Vietnam. And we continue to provide comprehensive HIV/AIDS treatment and care to orphans and vulnerable children in impoverished communities, as well as adult family members living with HIV/AIDS.

We need to fight hard to prevent, test and treat HIV/AIDS. Bold action is required to beat this pandemic. We can and must do more."

Dr.Jane Aronson
WWO Founder and CEO

WWO is conducting a search for a new Director of Development. Learn more.
11/15/2011

Worldwide Orphans Foundation has the unique mission of serving orphaned and vulnerable children in their own communities so that they can become independent, powerful, contributing members of society.  WWO has grown an average of 30 percent per year in the last three years and now we are searching for the right person to continue this growth.  

The Director of Development and Communications reports to the Chief Executive Officer and is part of the Senior Staff leadership team. He/She has primary responsibility for fundraising, development and marketing. Specific responsibilities are to:

•    Develop, plan and execute the organization’s fundraising and communications strategy;
•    Ensure that revenue streams are diverse and meet short and long-term goals;
•    Develop and execute strategies for sustaining and increasing funding;
•    Initiate and oversee special fundraising projects and events;
•    Direct overall efforts of the development department, including consultants and volunteers;
•    Works closely with the Board development committee to develop fundraising strategies and solicit major donors others (including analyzing and strengthening the database, and identification and cultivation of potential major donors);
•    Develop and oversee targeted direct mail campaigns;
•    Increase foundation and corporate giving by identifying and soliciting new grant opportunities;
•    Manage all special events, including annual gala.

LOCATION

Maplewood NJ is 30 minutes from NYC. The Director will be expected to meet with Board members and major donors, attend functions and other meetings in NYC throughout the year.

The Director will work closely with the Board Development and Communications committee to widely propagate the organization's branding and positioning and to ensure that the organization's unique mission is communicated and understood.

The Director will execute and implement a comprehensive Financial Resource Development plan, including the development and coordination of the organization's Annual Appeal, Planned Giving and Endowment plans.

The successful candidate will have a minimum of ten years experience in the development field, a demonstrated track record in development and the ability to work in a team environment. Must be an excellent writer. Proficiency in Raisers Edge a plus.

WWO thanks Girl Scouts for their help
11/9/2011

WWO is grateful for all Maplewood Girl Scouts Patrol #20965 who were at the office this week and helped us with some of the Gala materials.  With an amazing energy, the scouts worked non-stop and got the job done with perfection and professionalism. Thank you all! 

   

Watch Dr. Aronson live, Nov 1 at 2:30 PT
11/1/2011

Join the World of Children Award and the U.S. Fund for UNICEF as they speak to several top changemakers working for children globally. This broadcast features interviews with past World of Children Award winners Dr. Jane Aronson, WWO's Founder and CEO and Susie Krabacher as well as our five 2011 World of Children Award winners. They'll also be interviewing Lynn Stratford, Senior Vice President of Program and Strategic Partnerships for the U.S. Fund for UNICEF, bestselling author Frank Lafasto, and our founder, Harry Leibowitz. Wendy Naugle, Executive Editor of GLAMOUR magazine, will be conducting interviews with these changemakers, exploring how ordinary individuals can affect positive social change in big ways.

They will also have several past World of Children Award winners available via chat to discuss their experiences helping children and to offer advice to other individuals and organizations who want to maximize their social impact.

Dr. Aronson and other Global Changemakers for children honored by World of Children
10/31/2011
Please join the World of Children Award for a conversation with some of the world’s leading social changemakers for children featured in the just-published book, The Humanitarian Leader in Each of Us: 7 Choices That Shape a Socially Responsible Life.

Tuesday, November 1
5:30pm – 6:30pm (EST)
Broadcast online live

Moderated by:
Wendy Naugle, Executive Editor of GLAMOUR Magazine
 
In Conversation LIVE with:
·        Dr. Jane Aronson, Worldwide Orphan Foundation
·        Susie Scott Krabacher, Mercy & Sharing
·        Frank LaFasto, Author of The Humanitarian Leader in Each of Us
·        Harry Leibowitz, Co-Founder, the World of Children Award
·        Lynn Stratford, Vice President of Program and Strategic Partnerships, U.S. Fund for UNICEF
·       Dr. Ashok Banskota, Health & Rehabilitation Center for Disabled Children
·       Denisse Pichardo, Caminante Proyecto Educativo
·       Luke Lancaster,Young Pioneers
·       Neha Gupta, Empower Orphans
·       Tatiana Grossman, Spread the Words
 
With Participation By:

Peter Samuelson, Everyone Deserves a Roof
Makenzie Synder, Children to Children
Cheryl Perera, One Child Network
Ryan Hreljac, Ryan’s Well Foundation
Anoop Khurana,  Ruchika Social Service Organization

To receive an email reminder or to
add this event to your calendar, please CLICK HERE and sign up for an email update.
New Partnership to Expand Water Access in Ethiopia
10/13/2011


WWO announced today a new partnership with Washington state-based organization A Child’s Right to improve the health of orphans and vulnerable children by providing clean, safe  drinking  water  to orphanages and impoverished communities in Ethiopia.
 
"WWO is pleased to announce this important partnership with A Child's Right organization to increase access to safe water for children in Ethiopia," said Dr. Jane Aronson, Founder and CEO of Worldwide Orphans Foundation. ACR's mission is to change the lives of vulnerable children in impoverished urban areas by providing clean, safe drinking water to orphanages, schools, children’s hospitals, street shelters and rescue homes.

"This partnership will ensure that thousands of orphans and vulnerable Ethiopian children are guaranteed clean drinking water to improve their health and well-being and enhance their development.”
 
An estimated 250,000 Ethiopian children die every year from preventable water and sanitation-related diseases, UNICEF cites.

Working in partnership with ACR, WWO will offer consultation and support in managing the installation of water  purification  systems  at  10  project sites in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia's capital city.  All local staff will be trained on how to operate and maintain the water purification system.     

(Full Press Release)

Dr. Aronson's Blog: Abandonment of a Baby: Jail and Adoption are not the Answers
10/10/2011

I started my day at 6:30 am on Oct. 9, reviewing a pre-adoption medical abstract from a country abroad for a lovely American family. I am wearing my hat as Dr. Jane, the adoption doctor today... When I saw this little boy's photos in my inbox from the Jones family, I was eager to learn about this child. He was sweet and shiny and alert, just a few months old, and I felt hopeful for a moment. Then I read the social history.

He was found by a local older woman on the grounds of the market place when she heard his hungry cries. Having had babies herself, she knew that distinctive cry and raced in its direction. She found him swaddled tightly in a colorful scarf and he was clean and not ill appearing. She picked him up and felt a crinkly paper note under the scarf, which upon inspection had his date of birth and given name. He was a month of age and she instantly felt compelled to hold him close.

(Read full story)

Dr. Aronson's Blog: The Trouble With International Adoption Is not Trafficking: It's the Global Orphan Crisis
9/20/2011

This blog is in response to a September 18 article in the New York Times, by John Leland, on the trafficking of babies in China.


Over the 22 years that I have been an adoption medicine specialist, there have been many historic moments where the legitimacy of the adoption of children from abroad has been questioned and revealed on TV and in print media. Countries have closed at these moments, leaving children stranded in orphanages, parents without their children and accusations of trafficking. Inter-country adoptions have gone from 23,000 in 2005 to about 11,000 in 2010 with fewer and fewer choices available to families looking to adopt from abroad. (Read more)

Last day to offer WWO Students 'Words of Wisdom'
9/16/2011

Offer words of wisdom, encouragement and support (WoW) on Facebook and Twitter to our schoolchildren in Ethiopia, as they head back-to-school. Encourage your friends to do the same. We've set a goal of 500 words of wisdom! Please send your WoW by Sept 9! We will present the "Words of Wisdom" the next week as students head back to school.

We're providing a great elementary school, a world-class education, and life-long opportunities - you provide the Wow!

  or click here if you don't have Facebook or Twitter accounts.

Learn more about the WoW Campaign!

Dr.Aronson is finalist for "100 Moms Changing the World" in the Inspirational category with Christiane Amapour
9/8/2011

Dr. Jane was named a finalist for Babble.com's "100 Moms Changing the World" in the Inspirational category with Christiane Amapour. Finalists in other categories for "100 Moms Changing the World" include Hilary Clinton, Melinda Gates, Tina Fey, Arianna Huffington, among others.Congratulations, Dr. Jane!

"100 Moms Changing the World"

The List of finalists

Dr. Aronson's Blog: What Do Orphans Think About at the Amusement Park?
9/8/2011

I sat on the couch in my den tonight with my 11-year-old son, Ben (adopted from Vietnam as a baby), helping him tend to the 53 mosquito and flea bites on his legs and back from a summer of fun and escape. We visited friends and family each weekend, capped off by a trip to Niagara Falls and Canada where our dear former neighbors from Maplewood, NJ, rented a cottage in northern Ontario. They enjoyed road trips to the beach, swimming eight hours a day in a friend's pool on the North Fork, sports camp, robotics, mountain biking, camping on an island in Lake George, fishing, freshly baked chocolate croissants, tubing near Shelter Island, card games of any sort you can name, and a 1500 mile drive to Canada and back.

Read full Post

Dr. Jane Aronson Featured in New Book on Humanitarian Leadership
8/22/2011

Dr. Jane Aronson, Founder & CEO of the Worldwide Orphans Foundation, is profiled in a new book that explores an intriguing question: How do seemingly ordinary people become humanitarian leaders who make a positive and often lasting impact on the lives of those in need? To find out, best-selling authors Frank LaFasto, Ph.D., and Carl Larson, Ph.D., studied 31 individuals from a range of nations, cultures, and generations. The authors share their insights, along with the stories of Dr. Aronson and the other leaders, in the book, The Humanitarian Leader in Each of Us: 7 Choices That Shape a Socially Responsible Life.

The Humanitarian Leader in Each of Us explores these life choices, as well as the impact of 31 people on the world’s problems and the relationship between helping and personal happiness.  Finally, the authors offer practical advice for getting started in a helping effort.

In this inspiring book, LaFasto and Larson make a persuasive case that anyone with the motivation, energy, and perseverance can take charge of making a difference in society.   The authors show how each of us can translate our own good intentions into good deeds—and enrich our own lives along the way.

The Humanitarian Leader in Each of Us: 7 Choices That Shape a Socially Responsible Life, (SAGE Publications, August 2011; paperback original).  Click here to read more and buy the book from Amazon.com.

Dr. Aronson's Blog: Partnerships... Smarter, Cheaper, Kinder
8/9/2011

Posted: August 9, 2011

I awakened at about 3 a.m. today, eager to write and get some work done. An email in my ever-growing inbox (I emptied 200 emails just 24 hours ago in an attempt to clean house) arrived telling me about some very nice work that their organization was doing for disabled children in Vietnam. I smiled and wondered who this email was from and answered, "Do I know you?" The person had a sense of humor and reminded me how I knew them and told me that I had responded to her a year ago exactly in the same way. And then I wrote a very long response which I didn't send because I decided that this is indeed a bigger discussion and wanted to share it with a larger audience. (Read more)

 

Dr. Aronson's Blog: Abyssinian Princess
8/8/2011

Abyssinian Princess on Horseback: Inspiration for all Orphans

I awakened early on Saturday, July 30, eager to participate in a special event while visiting a friend on Shelter Island, an island at the eastern end of New York's Long Island. Their sweet and sassy 4-year-old daughter, Aliyah Temanesh, adopted from Ethiopia more than three years ago, was about to compete in her very first horse show. Her 13-year-old brother was already an accomplished equestrian and Ali was following in his footsteps.

I wanted to watch her get ready and to experience how she felt about her day. I've known this little girl long enough (since she arrived in New York at about 6 months of age) to know that she was serious about her riding and determined to excel in anything that she undertakes. (Read more)

Dr. Aronson's Blog: Reunifying Ethiopian HIV Orphans With Extended Family
8/1/2011

Integrating orphans back into their own communities and cultures is a key aspect of the mission of Worldwide Orphans Foundation (WWO). WWO has worked diligently to complete psycho-social assessments on the 39 orphans with HIV/AIDS who reside in Des's Village, an orphanage in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. We learned a lot from the assessments about the past social history of these children and their families in far off towns and cities. For the past two years, WWO has assumed guardianship of these sweet and loving children who have suffered stigma and abandonment due to their HIV positive status. In that time period, visits were arranged with family members for some of the children. We have fostered these relationships and have seen the connection with family grow.

Read full post at Huffington Post

WWO Camp Gives Vietnamese Orphans An Enriching Summer Experience
7/29/2011

For American children, summer is a season of pure excitement and fun activities where they can explore, participate in recreational activities, and go to camp. Nearly 200 orphans and vulnerable children from three orphanages served by Worldwide Orphans Foundation (WWO) and impoverished communities in Vietnam had an opportunity to experience the same summer fun at WWO-sponsored camps in Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi.

The Camp Colors of Love, a weeklong residential camp held in June and July, was organized in partnership with the nongovernmental organization, SeriousFun Children's Network, a worldwide network of camps for seriously-ill children founded by actor Paul Newman. The campers in Vietnam, all living with HIV/AIDS, came from orphanages with programs supported by WWO and various communities in Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi.

WWO Camp

By actively engaging Vietnamese orphans and vulnerable children in arts and crafts, sports, discovery, and teambuilding, the camp aims to make each child feel more secure, self-confident, and trusting – while enjoying camp activities in a nurturing environment.

“Summer camps can offer enormous long-term benefits and positive effects on a child’s social, physical and emotional development,” said Dr. Jane Aronson, Founder and CEO of Worldwide Orphans Foundation (WWO). “WWO’s mission is to transform the lives of orphans and vulnerable children. The WWO camp helps to achieve this by boosting the children’s self-esteem, as well as building critical skills for them to become successful, productive citizens in Vietnam.”  

Like camps in the U.S., the campers -- aged 7 to 16 -- experience the great outdoors by sleeping in tents, singing songs around campfires and boating. Since the campers are HIV-positive, they also learn about how to live positively and stay healthy and manage the disease in their daily lives.

In June, WWO organized two one-week sessions of camp near Hanoi, which was attended by a total of 72 HIV+ children from the Ba Vi orphanage and communities in Hanoi and Hai Phong.  For the month of July, two camp sessions are taking place in Ho Chi Minh City in the Dong Ngai province, for some 120 children living with HIV from Linh Xuan, Vung Tau and Mai Hoa orphanages and communities in Ho Chi Minh City and An Giang province.

In addition to enriching the lives of orphans and vulnerable children, the WWO camp works to build capacity among in-country staff from the orphanages and the community, so that they will be empowered to lead the camp and train others to be camp counselors.

Prior to the start of camp, WWO’s partner Hole in the Wall held a training session for camp staffers, orphanage caretakers and  medical staff where they were trained to learn about the challenges the campers face daily and how to facilitate their development in personal relationships, self-worth, resilience, confidence and hope for the future.

WWO Camp Director Tran Lan Khanh locally recruited activity leaders to ensure local leadership at each camp. Additionally, camp counselors from the camp in south Vietnam helped to train newly-recruited counselors from the northern region of the country. 

Camp staffers will incorporate activities learned from the camp into the programming at orphanages, enabling children living in institutions to be exposed to the arts, sports and recreational activities from the camp.

“We’ve been amazed at the children’s growth and development after they return from camp,” said Thuy Ngo, WWO Vietnam Country Director. “Once the camp counselors come back to the orphanage, they can give the children who could not attend the camp an opportunity to have an adventurous camp experience.”

Camp Colors of Love is in its fourth year in Vietnam. WWO also hosts a summer camp in Ethiopia each year.


New pictures from Blesso's Birthday and WWO Fundraiser
7/8/2011

Thanks to WWO Board member Matt Blesso for an incredible reception hosted by Amy Poehler, of Saturday Night Live and star of Parks and Recreation, raising nearly $15,500 to benefit WWO

The evening also included performances by The Energy, ARKi in collaboration with AbyssiNYa, Chloe Temtchine, MAis Unzinho, RI KI KAI, and NJ Vito Fun who entertained close to 170 guests. See all pictures.

Thank you, Matt Blesso!!

WWO moved to our new Home
6/20/2011

WWO is now at a new address at

515 Valley Street, Suite 201
Maplewood NJ 07040

Phone and fax are the same:
Phone: 973-763-9961 and fax 973-763-8640

Come visit us!

 

WWO Unplugged on Friday, June 17
6/14/2011

WE'RE ON THE MOVE!

WWO is moving to our new home this Friday, June 17th.  We won't have email or telephone service on that day, but when we're all reconnected on Monday, our email and telephone numbers will be the same.  Only the address is changing - and not by much!

Our new address is:

Worldwide Orphans Foundation
515 Valley Street, Suite 201
Maplewood, NJ 07040

Thanks for your patience.

WWO Friend & Benefactor Eddie Phillips Remembered by Dr. Jane
4/11/2011

I have looked for mentoring all my life...I have yearned for it and sought it almost desperately. There were fortunately some giants in my life and I am grateful. I write this note at 5 am in the morning on April 9 to honor the philosophy and importance of mentoring for my personal vision in the developing world because I lost a mentor on April 8. I lost my dear friend, Eddie Phillips who was a mogul in the world of business, but more importantly a mentor to many people in his life.

Where to start? I am lost today and can't sleep because I am sad and overwhelmed with this loss. I am a grown-up admitting that the loss of a mentor at any stage of life is a great loss...the learning never ends.

Eddie had a style that was for me just perfect. He was savvy, seductive, silly and smart. He was warm and had fast humor which I frequently missed, but he was very kind when I was stupid. He was a mature and wise man with a unique family history. Immigrant grandparents who worked punishingly long hours and gained wealth in their community which was immediately turned into world philanthropy which became the Phillips family legacy. I had never met such a man in my life. He came to me through someone in the business world who was indeed eager to do business with him, but never finally did. This person introduced us in 1999,  thinking that Eddie might be interested in Worldwide Orphans, my very fledgling foundation.  Eddie and I met when I had no credibility and no business plan...just full of a lot of hooey or what we now call vision. I was leaving a very long marriage and starting a new life...as a parent.

We really loved one another at first site...me with my Kenzo black suit with a safety pin in the zipper (it broke on the way to meet him) and he in his blue silk suit and Prada shoes; we met at Shutters in Santa Monica, California after a short introduction and some sassy emails that made us both laugh. We dared one another to meet at Shutters and in less than 24 hours I was there having breakfast with him. We spent half that day together just talking and laughing and would have stayed longer if there weren't the usual time constraints for busy people.
We both ended up with wet pants as we sat on the deck at Shutters on soaked lounge chair upholstery. And that was the beginning of frequent emails and many, many cell phone calls...and meetings mostly in New York where we continued to sit for hours at breakfast, lunch, and dinner...walks in the streets of New York...talking about everything. We always spent the essential time speaking about our families...Eddie loved that I was about to become a parent for the first time at 47 when I adopted my  son, Benjamin (now 11 years old). And he was thrilled when I adopted Des when he was 6 years of age and  Ben was 4. I knew all about Eddie's family as well. And I met them over the years. When his twins had their B'Nai Mitzvah my family traveled to Minneapolis for this very special event and had a wonderful weekend learning about his family and enjoying being part of the community that Eddie had built.

He became ill years ago and successfully managed that illness without much self-pity and died with courage and grace. Even while fighting the very pernicious multiple myeloma, he always had time for my musings and missives on email. He believed that I would do what I said I would do. He never questioned that I would make things happen, but he always asked lots of strategic questions that helped me shape my work. He wrote long critiques of my proposals. I am not sure that I loved some of these notes, because I had to then spend days sometimes, thinking about his queries and coming up with answers. While doing that work, I clarified my thinking and fine-tuned my visions. He essentially gave me challenging homework and I did my homework.

He invested in me as a budding CEO and then in WWO. He donated $50,000 in honor of my adoption of Ben...on a napkin at a restaurant he wrote a pledge.  He made additional generous gifts over the years.  And then he brought his family to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia in 2008 and saw WWO Academy as it was just opening. I went to Minneapolis and presented a complex proposal and budget for the school and he wrote a detailed critique shortly after and gave WWO a $875,000 grant over 5 years. He also taught me that with that grant came the responsibility of finding other investors and stakeholders which I did.

As I look back now, he was teaching me all the time...and then I remember a time when he seemed to listen more and more and we spoke less of the foundation and more about ourselves and family. The lessons were done....I had done a crash course and he trusted my judgment and would say that to me.

He came to all the WWO Galas except one because he became ill and had to leave urgently to get medical care in Minnesota. He sat next to me at the head table and his physical presence was powerful for me. He wanted to meet potential donors and speak to them about WWO. He even came to the LA events years ago to meet the newest stakeholders and help consolidate WWO's credibility. He had a mission that we create a core group of investors that would grow over time and increase the financial stability of the organization. That mission was realized last week as Eddie was dying, when WWO held its first Leadership Council dinner in New York. Without Eddie, there would be no WWO Academy.....I asked him about naming the school after him on several occasions...this made him uncomfortable. That was Eddie.

I was in touch with his family and a dear friend this week as he said goodbye and made peace and did the very courageous work of dying. That was a parting lesson for me and all those who knew him. He died well...he had the benefit of great medical care and then when his body could no longer respond to medication, he was smart and let go so that he could die comfortably and gently surrounded by love.
I was not able to sleep much this week...knowing Eddie was slipping away physically. I was trying to figure out how to handle my sadness and feelings of loss. Keeping in touch by email, text, and phone was very helpful, but finally my back went out and my good sleep failed me...and I succumbed. I will go to his funeral and it will be very healing to be there among his devoted family and friends. It will be hard to say goodbye, but it will be sweet to see his children and let them know how much I loved their father.....and why. Sharing the memories will be healing on all sides.
 
Dr. Jane Aronson

 


 

Merck Company Foundation awards $1 million to WWO Academy
4/5/2011


WWO is thrilled to announce that The Merck Company Foundation has made a $1 million grant over a four year period to the WWO Academy in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. 

Dr. Jane Aronson, founder and CEO of WWO, noted that, “This grant will strengthen our efforts to ensure that some of Ethiopia’s most vulnerable children receive a world-class education that will help them reach their highest potential, and eventually lead productive, dignified lives.  We are deeply grateful to Merck for their vision and their trust in us.”

The WWO Academy is a private school created by WWO in 2007 to provide a free primary education to children, some with HIV/AIDS, living in orphanages and vulnerable children from the local community, one of the most impoverished in Addis Ababa.

The Academy is licensed by the Ministry of Education, employs Ethiopian administrators and teachers, and offers a cutting-edge curriculum, rich in global arts.  All students receive two healthy meals a day, as well as access to medical services.

“Education is a key focus of our corporate giving efforts as we know having a strong educational foundation can set the path for a successful future,” said Ellen Lambert, Executive Vice President, The Merck Company Foundation.  “This funding will further ensure the WWO Academy is well-equipped to bring quality education to a group of children who need it the most.”

Art Auction raises funds for WWO
3/29/2011

 
Thanks to WWO Board member Matt Blesso, Loreto Alcoba, and the arts organization SCOPE, for a spectacular reception and art auction, raising nearly $30,000 to benefit WWO. 

Former Sotheby’s auctioneer Christopher Gow led the live auction, which featured a selection of paintings and jewelry by artists Robert Whitman, Hugo Fontela, Arturo Guerrero, Osvaldo Herrera Graham, Tom Beale, Julio Barrionuevo, Pedro Cuni, Robert Irwin, Baju Wijono, John Gundelfinger, Ahmad Souresrafil, Loreto Alcoba, among others.

On the roof of Matt’s Noho penthouse, Brooklyn-based artist Andrew Ohanesian re-constructed his critically acclaimed bar installation, Mandies, an interactive space where guests experienced the shock of stepping into a Brooklyn dive bar and becoming both bartender and guest, at once.

WWO founder Dr. Jane Aronson spoke passionately about WWO’s work with orphans and vulnerable children worldwide, and noted why global arts are critical components of the organization’s programming.

The evening included lively musical performances by Grammy nominee cellist Dave Eggar with his trio DEORO. Other performers include: Inma Heredia, Laura Wolfe, Nilko Andreas and Angelica de la Riva.

“I’m very grateful to all of the artists that donated their time and work for the benefit of WWO. They enabled us to raise a lot of money and the performances allowed everyone to have an amazing time!” said Blesso, a top New York real estate developer. “This was the first art-focused event for WWO and given its great success we’ve decided to make it annual event.”

We also want to thank event sponsors

                
 

Join us in an exclusive Benefit Art Auction
3/21/2011

Artist Loreto Alcoba and Worldwide Orphans Foundation board member Matthew Blesso invite you to an exclusive Benefit Art Auction to be hosted in an award winning penthouse loft. Join us for a spectacular evening with entertainment provided by Grammy-nominated musician Dave Eggar and his group Deoro, as well as Laura Wolfe, Nilko Andreas and Angelica De La Riva. There will also be a short private show by Spanish entertainer, Inma Heredia, who will perform her award-winning solo of "MY AUDITION FOR ALMODOVAR". We will serve sumptuous Spanish tapas and wines and there will be a presentation by WWO founder and one of Glamour Magazine’s 2009 Women of the Year, Dr. Jane Aronson.
 
The live auction features a selection of works donated by established artists from around the globe. Meet and mingle with the artists, get an up-close view of their amazing works, and warm up those vocal cords to bid on that piece you can’t live without!  All proceeds from the event will benefit WWO.

More information 

 

Letter to Bill Clinton - Dr. Aronson calls for Stronger Diplomatic Efforts to Facilitate Ethiopian Adoptions
3/15/2011

Dr. Jane Aronson, Founder and CEO of Worldwide Orphans Foundation, issued an “open letter” to former President Bill Clinton where she pressed for stronger diplomatic efforts to reverse the Ethiopian government’s recent decision to halt international adoption in the country.

Aronson urged President Clinton to step in as a U.S. statesman to help negotiate between the Ethiopian government and American adoption agencies and parents, as he helped to secure the release of young journalists Laura Ling and Euna Lee from North Korea.

A strategic plan for the de-institutionalization of orphaned children and community building is required to ensure the care and well-being of millions of Ethiopian orphans, stressed Aronson. “The Ethiopian government’s concerns must be addressed, but so must the concerns of the waiting parents and most of all, of the children.”  

She said WWO and other nongovernmental organizations were prepared to sit down with Ethiopian government officials and large international NGOs like Unicef to assist the government in providing concurrent planning to strengthen adoption and social welfare infrastructures and to fill in the gap to ensure transparency in the adoption process.

See Full letter to Bill Clinton

See Press Release

Follow Dr. Jane's journals on The Huffington Post
3/9/2011

Blog Entries by Dr. Jane Aronson

Changing my Medical Practice to Make Room for a Vision

Posted March 9, 2011 | 03:35 PM (EST)


After more than 20 years of running a primary care pediatric practice for children adopted from abroad, I've decided to change my practice. I'm not stepping away from being a doctor, a dream of mine since I was 3 years old, but I am removing the daily pediatric care of sick visits and well check-ups, to concentrate solely on adoption related issues for parents and children and my foundation work. I agonized for months over making this decision and will deeply miss not following the kids' development long term as I have for 20 years. This practice change will allow me to focus on the specialty aspects of adoption, and will free up time for me to grow my organization, Worldwide Orphans Foundation (WWO).

The letters notifying parents that I would no longer see their children for sick visits and well child check-ups went out on February 15, 2011. Now there's no turning back on my decision to not be the purveyor of friendly medical advice about runny noses, coughs, fever, broken arms, belly aches, sore throats, rashes and the mysteries of a child just "not himself".

I will now devote my thoughts to attachment, depression, behavioral issues, learning disabilities, attention deficit disorder, post traumatic stress, and other developmental issues that are often the complications of no pre-natal care and institutionalization for children adopted from abroad. I will also help parents figure out what country to adopt from, how to prepare for parenting, and see the newly adopted child for just that one initial visit when they first arrive.

Since opening my solo practice in July 2000 in New York City, which has a large population of adopting parents, the practice thrived and grew. I worked 100 hours per week to keep up with the needs of the practice. I was on call 24/7 and handled phone calls and e-mails from traveling parents from countries all over the world, day and night. I evaluated over 10,000 kids in this practice and enjoyed seeing myself as "the Stork". I helped people decide where to go to adopt and then saw the newly adopted child for their initial visit on arrival to the US. Those who were local and even from surrounding states often continued to see me for yearly check-ups and I have known hundreds of children over 20 years of practice which includes kids I saw from my Long Island adoption practice.

I learned so much about every pediatric specialty. I had to know endocrinology in case a child had precocious puberty, which appears to be more common in adopted children. I had to know cardiology because lots of kids were diagnosed with heart disease in the pre-adoption documents from Russia and there are special needs children from China with real heart lesions needing surgical repair in the U.S. I had to know the possible genetics of children who were missing ears, toes, fingers, and who had dysmorphic facial features. Knowing how alcohol might change the face of a child and being able to talk about the possible effects of alcohol, even when there were no classic facial features, was a daily function of the practice. I stepped up to study every day and learned more medicine and development than I could have ever learned from a textbook. I developed close alliances with specialists at many medical centers to learn their specialty, and I taught them about adoption so that they could help adoptive families with sensitivity and respect.

I learned about the geopolitics of the world and the idiosyncratic cultural differences of sending countries became my continuing medical education. In each country where there was adoption, I scrutinized their medical textbooks and had research articles in other languages translated for me in order to understand the medical context and the child. That was the most exciting part of the field of adoption medicine. There was little to no research on orphans in textbooks, so I learned from parents, adoption agencies, social workers and physicians living in countries around the world. Then, I started to travel abroad to visit orphanages after feeling like a fake just pontificating about orphans from my living room or office. I became obsessed with orphanage life and traveled widely with like-minded professionals . Medical missions to countries like Romania, Bulgaria, El Salvador, China, Russia were a regular part of my personal medical education to further my expertise in orphans.

I spoke at parent adoption meetings and conferences and did clinical research of my patient population. I reported my thoughts and findings to colleagues and we began to formalize adoption medicine as a specialty and organized a yearly medical institute which still exists today. We shared and learned from one another on an adoption listserv, and we created an official section for the American Academy of Pediatrics, "Section on Adoption and Foster Care", to further best practice and education on this specialty.

I then had a vision -- in 1997 to be exact -- to create a foundation that would learn about the medical and psychological issues of orphans and create programs to help children who were institutionalized. That is how Worldwide Orphans Foundation started on Sept. 11, 1997. Now 13 years later, the organization is unrecognizable to even me: a $5 million operating budget; a dozen employees in my hometown, Maplewood, New Jersey; and hundreds of employees who are nationals in five countries.

Since 1997, WWO has implemented innovative programs serving orphans and vulnerable (OVC) children in 14 countries. WWO is on the cutting edge of de-institutionalization and strategically implements programs focused on community building and capacity building in all countries. In just 13 years, we have gone from discovering the complex issues of orphans in orphanages to creating models and interventions to help orphans come out of institutions. We are now side by side with larger child advocacy organizations around the world having learned how destructive and dangerous institutional living is for young children, determined to change how orphans are viewed. We are declaring that children living in orphanages is a holocaust and a tragedy of monumental proportion; the secret destruction of millions of young lives because of extreme poverty, AIDS, malaria, tuberculosis, overpopulation, war and conflict, natural disasters, and the subsequent disintegration of family life must end.

I am leaving primary care pediatric medicine to pursue a larger calling: to help a lost generation of children living without families in desperate settings. It will be my last best job and, one child at a time, I will work to understand the cultural differences from country to country, and I will identify the best models to move children out of orphanages and back into their communities and hopefully into permanent families. I will work with thousands of other dreamers, like myself, all over the world to find solutions to this formidable, but necessary task.

So I will still be a doctor, but I have carved out the time now to be a strategic planner, a CEO, a fundraiser, a policy person -- and a visionary. I'm excited about this new journey.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/dr-jane-aronson/changing-my-medical-pract_b_833240.html

 

FOX-5 shout out to WWO
3/7/2011

Thanks to Greg Kelly, anchor of "Good Day New York" FOX-5, for giving a shout out to WWO during Friday's morning broadcast, and for encouraging listeners to learn more about our work.

http://www.myfoxny.com/dpp/good_day_ny/worldwide-orphans-foundation20110304


WWO Ethiopia Granted Permanent Guardianship of Des's Village
2/28/2011

The Ethiopian government just granted WWO permanent guardianship of Des's Village for Children, an orphanage of 39 HIV-positive children. WWO assumed temporary guardianship of the children in April 2009 after the director of their orphanage died.  WWO had provided medical care and education for the children for many years.
The children from Des’ Village range in age from 3 to 18 years old, and reside in a newly-rented facility with devoted caretakers. Des’ Village was named after Desalegn Aronson, son of Dr. Jane Aronson, who was adopted at age 6 from Ethiopia.


The orphans receive quality health care from WWO and attend the WWO Academy, a private school for orphans and vulnerable community children with and without HIV/AIDS. During the summer months, the children experience Camp Addis where they engage in recreational activities, global arts programs and sports, including playing in a soccer league. 
“WWO believes that assuming permanent guardianship of the children will give them stability, while enabling them to receive the very best care and direct assistance to ensure every child, despite their HIV-positive status, has the opportunity to reach their full potential,” said WWO CEO Dr. Aronson, a leading pediatrician specializing in orphans and vulnerable children.
 
“I’d like to commend WWO Ethiopia Country Director Dr. Sophie Mengistu and her deputy Mimi Asfaw for managing the complex medical and psycho-social issues that these children increasingly face.”

Spread the word about WWO
2/14/2011

Share the love and spread the word about WWO.

All you have to do is….
Ask your friends to “Like” WWO’s Facebook page!

Guess who has a crush on Dr. Aronson?
2/14/2011

Guess who has a crush on WWO Founder and CEO Dr. Jane Aronson? Read the New York Times article to find out....


http://www.nytimes.com/2011/02/13/fashion/13Celeb.html?_r=2&src=twrhp

CNN's AC 360 Blog Features Dr. Aronson's Journals
2/14/2011

Dr. Jane's eye-opening journals on the plight of Haiti's orphans and vulnerable children are featured on CNN's AC 360 Blog. Please feel free to share widely and comment directly on the CNN web page:

http://ac360.blogs.cnn.com/2011/02/08/from-www-org-dr-jane-aronson-returns-to-haiti/

 

Heidi Klum, Seal, Anderson Cooper at WWO Gala 2010
11/2/2010

Heidi Klum and Seal co-hosted WWO’s 6th annual benefit gala, held on November 1st in downtown Manhattan.  CNN anchor Anderson Cooper received the WWO Honorary Orphan Ranger award in recognition of his in-depth reporting on Haiti and many issues involving orphans.


In addition to co-hosting with Heidi Klum the gala, which is a major fundraising event for WWO programs, Seal provided entertainment for the event.  

Both Hugh Jackman, who hosted last year’s event, and his wife Deborra-lee Furness, who was the 2009 Honorary Orphan Ranger attended, as celebrities such as Mary-Louise Parker, Kyle MacLaughlan, Rosie O'Donnell, Christine Ebersole, Sarah Ziff, and Andrew Garfield.

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