Galina’s Story

“450,000 women have disappeared from my country [Moldova], and I or any other girl from Stella’s House could have been one of them.”  — Galina

As “Human Trafficking Awareness Month” comes to an end, we’d like to share a story of a life that was changed through the work of 100X and our partners–a story that we hope will remind you of the importance of this issue long after the month of January is over.

Galina is a real world example of what 100X is all about. Labeled an orphan with no hope of a future, Galina is now working to protect orphans and show them their true value. This is her story…

Hi, my name is Galina. My parents divorced when I was four years old and they split up the kids. I guess I wasn’t chosen by either parent. I was left with my grandmother. They never came to visit. They never called. They were just gone. I waited for a while but then I stopped waiting.

I never saw them again.

My grandmother was very ill and was not able to take care of me, so she put me in the orphanage. There, I was pretty much just a number. The teachers did not care about us, and everyone had to fight for their own life. Everything was old. The snow would leak inside the house. Even though we had electricity, we were afraid to use it because of the leaks. Our windows wouldn’t close properly, so we would put material over them to try to keep the cold air out. We had one fireplace for heat and we would make fires once or twice a week. We had no hot water or indoor bathrooms. We were forced to go outside and take a shower once a week.

There were twelve girls in my room, half of the beds on one side of the room and the other half on the other side. We didn’t have warm blankets, so we would sleep two girls in one bed to keep warm. We never had warm clothes or clothes to go to school in.

The worst part was we had to go to public school with the kids from the village who had families to take care of them. For us that was the hardest part. Everybody would make fun of us because they knew that nobody was there to stand up for us. Even the teachers thought of us that way. It didn’t matter how hard we put ourselves out there and studied, they didn’t give us good grades. For them, we were just orphans. They told us – “oh you will never be able to do anything because you are an orphan.” “You will end up washing doors for the rest of your life.” “There is no place for you in this world.” There was almost no point to live. It was hard not to lose hope.

The government cannot afford to run the orphanages in the summer, so they close them down and put the kids with extended family members. The kids that don’t have any family to take them are rented out to work for anyone who wants them. They are paid 80 cents a day. I started working during the summers when I was four years old. I had to weed gardens, feed chickens, and do any other jobs they would give me. No one ever came to check on us to make sure we were ok.

My life changed on December 25, 2003. On Christmas night, Philip Cameron and his family visited our orphanage, and they were the happiest people I had ever seen. We all asked each other, “do they know we’re orphans?” Philip and his family kept coming back, and they spent time telling us we were special and that God loved us. They spent time with us when no one else did. They gave us our first Christmas gifts, and celebrated our birthdays for the first time. They also created Stella’s House, a place for us to go when we had to leave the orphanage after we turned sixteen. More important than any of this, they gave us hope. Today, I’m a different person—God has healed me completely. Today, I’m able to help change the lives of others.

My story could have ended very differently. 450,000 women have disappeared from my country, and I or any other girl from Stella’s House could have been one of them. People around the world that cared enough to do something literally saved my life. God said in Matthew 25:40, “whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.”

At the age of 16, girls in Moldova “age out” of state run orphanages. They are given $30 and a bus ticket and sent back to their hometown. A lot of people who work in the orphanages sell information to human traffickers and tell them when an attractive girl is about to be released. On the day they leave, traffickers are there waiting for them. Most of the girls who are trafficked wind up as prostitutes, and often die from HIV/AIDS, drug overdoses, or they are murdered.

It is without question that many of the 450,000 women that Galina mentioned are victims of human trafficking. According to the U.S. State Department, “Moldova is a source and, to a lesser extent, a transit and destination country for women and girls subjected to sex trafficking…Moldovan women are subjected to forced prostitution in Turkey, Russia, Cyprus, Bulgaria, the UAE, Kosovo, Israel, Indonesia, Malaysia, Lebanon, Italy, Greece, Ukraine, Czech Republic, and Romania.”  With no where to go after they age out, orphaned children are highly vulnerable. Traffickers prey on this vulnerability, and children quickly disappear into this dark criminal enterprise where their value is measured solely on their contribution to the $32 billion market.

Will you give a gift today that will help us reach more girls like Galina?

*100X is a major supporter of Stella’s Voice, a nonprofit organization, and is working in partnership with them to protect orphans from human trafficking in Moldova.

We asked, they answered. Q&A with child sponsors. Part II.

In our last blog, we introduced you to two veteran child sponsors who have walked alongside 100X for many years.  Here, we would like you to meet some of our newest sponsors, and see how they are already making a great impact!

Jamie and his family began sponsoring Kizito and William six months ago, after he and his son volunteered at Mtendere in July.

What inspired you to become a sponsor? Meeting and spending time with the children at Mtendere, and seeing how successful Mtendere has been in changing children’s lives.

What does child sponsorship mean to you? Saving a child that would otherwise be in jeopardy, educating a human being, and inspiring them to reach for greatness.

What is your favorite thing about being a child sponsor? Knowing that a child is being saved from an otherwise destitute existence with little hope.

How have you involved your family in this experience? My son and I travelled to Mtendere this summer to spend a week working at the orphanage; although she did not visit with us this summer, my wife is the one that insisted that we sponsor two children. Now, our other children want to visit and work at Mtendere.

If you could share one thing with someone considering sponsoring a child, what would it be? If not for sponsors, these children don’t stand a chance; for $40 a month, you can educate, house and feed an orphan.

Teri began sponsoring Petro three months ago after traveling to Malawi with Karen (previous post) through Kusewera.

What inspired you to become a sponsor? Smiles. Each and every child in the village has a story that our hearts cannot comprehend…and each child’s smile resonates nothing but love and appreciation for the good they are now able to see, feel, and share. It is beautiful.

How do you see child sponsorship benefiting your sponsored child? The money will ensure Petro has school supplies, clothing, sufficient bedding, and toiletries. The love being given him through personal notes, concern for his well-being, and having another “safe” adult who he is able to trust is the best benefit of all and one that he will hopefully cherish as he grows.

What does child sponsorship mean to you? Being a sponsor means that I have the ability to directly and positively impact another human being without disrupting their culture and way of life. It is a simple way to say thank you for the genuine love felt in each little hand that held mine, the personal drawing one of the children took time to create, and the unbelievable beauty of their voices in song that will live with me forever .

If you could share one thing with someone considering sponsoring a child, what would it be? $40 per month ~ I make coffee at home and bring my lunch to work. I smile when I write the check to 100X, because I have seen with my own two eyes what a difference they are making in the lives of these children.

What is your favorite thing about being a child sponsor? The worst day I had last month ended with an envelope from 100X, filled with school papers from Petro. It became my best day.

Will you join us? For more information, please visit our child sponsorship page, or email Dana at DBlanchard@100XDevelopment.com.

We asked, they answered. Q&A with child sponsors. Part I.

We asked, they answered. Here is your opportunity to hear from some of our veteran child sponsors. We could not do this work without them!

Julie and Darrel have been sponsors through 100X for eight years. Their sponsored child, Ronald, is “one of the family.”

What inspired you to become a sponsor? We wanted to do more with our money to help others.

What does child sponsorship mean to you? We have developed a strong bond with Ronald that makes him feel like one of our own.

What is your favorite thing about being a child sponsor? It’s like having another member of the family.

How have you involved your family in this experience? My children and Ronald regularly exchange notes and pictures.

If you could share one thing with someone considering sponsoring a child, what would it be? The feeling you get when your sponsor child appreciates your involvement and communicates that to you. It feels good seeing them so appreciative.

Karen fell in love with the children at Mtendere Village after a trip to Malawi in 2008.  She has sponsored Stanley since 2009.

What inspired you to become a sponsor? I wanted to contribute financially to a child that I connected with at Mtendere. A year after I met Stanley, he became available for sponsorship and I grabbed the opportunity, since I knew I was meant to be his sponsor.

What does child sponsorship mean to you? Child Sponsorship means that I have made a choice to have a child at Mtendere who depends on me, who knows I care, and knows that I love them. For me, it’s an extension of what God has done for me…to be able to give back, and share that with a child who needs it. I’m particularly close with Stanley, the child I sponsor, and have been blessed to visit him often, be in touch often and also encourage him in school, life, etc. It’s been more than I could have imagined and I love that my “son” is growing every day into a man that God wants him to be.

If you could share one thing with someone considering sponsoring a child, what would it be? The financial commitment is so little compared to the huge difference that you will make in the child’s life. Knowing that you are helping with their daily needs is important, but having the connection to a real child, who really needs your assistance and really appreciates you is rewarding. I love knowing exactly who and where my monthly donation goes.

What is your favorite thing about being a child sponsor? I’ve probably said it several times over by now and there are too many favorites to pick just one…. I love connecting with a specific child, knowing their needs are being met…and I love getting to know them and them getting to know me.

Want to join the club? Visit our child sponsorship page, or email Dana at DBlanchard@100XDevelopment.com.

 

Guest Blog: Lessons

We were not the only teachers. The children taught us things that no professor could ever teach in a classroom–lessons that we will forever hold in our hearts.

As future teachers, helping children learn and succeed is one of our many passions. Arriving at the orphanage in Mtendere Village we were unsure of just how this passion would be sparked, but it quickly lit on fire and burned the whole time we were there. Some of us had spent minimal time working with children, especially directly in a classroom. This experience level quickly changed as we were divided up into different classrooms our second day at Mtendere. There were some students teaching the housemothers of the village, others in preschool age classrooms, and then others in primary or secondary aged classrooms. Every classrooms proposed challenges and situations to apply different teaching methods we had been taught all the way back at Ball State University.

Some students even had the experience of working one on one with the children at Mtendere, in an hour and half tutoring session everyday. These tutoring sessions allowed us to work on a more personal level with the children and help them individually in the area of reading. The sessions consisted of learning the level of reading our student could achieve, and work on areas such as comprehension that proved to be more difficult. The sessions not only consisted of helping the children with reading, but it also proposed opportunities to get to know and create relationships with our students.

Our time in Mtendere was spent mostly with the children; we acted as teachers to them whether it was in the classroom or playing games. We were not the only teachers. The children taught us things that no professor could ever teach in a classroom–lessons that we will forever hold in our hearts.

Bethany Thompson is an Elementary Education student at Ball State University.

Guest Blog: We Stand for Children

Teacher Training

We all realized that we could learn from each other, and we were all there for the very same reason: we all stand for children.

During our time in Malawi, we were given the amazing opportunity to teach fellow teachers in a professional development day our group organized. We extended the invitation to join us on this day to teachers all over the area around Mtendere Children’s Village. The day of the event, 32 teachers joined us, anxious to learn from us. They were so anxious and eager to learn, in fact, that some walked from up to eight miles away just to be there.

Being a group of students much younger and less experienced than most of our participants was a challenge we had to confront, as some teachers there had over 30 years of experience. However, once the day began, we all realized that we could learn from each other, and we were all there for the very same reason: we all stand for children. Our group of Ball State students and the Malawian teachers, despite our age differences and varying experiences, were united on this day, and we collaborated to learn how to better serve the children of the world.

Prior to coming to Malawi, while we were planning for the professional development day, we were told that the teachers were interested in learning about teaching theories. With that, we decided to teach Lev Vygotsky’s theory of the Zone of Proximal Development, scaffolding, and differentiation of instruction. The day was broken up into two parts: the first being a direct instruction part and the second being a collaborative group-work portion. During the direct instruction, three girls from our group basically gave the information in front of everyone, while the teachers were given papers with which to take notes. For the group-work portion of the day, we all broke into small groups with two girls from our group, and around four or five Malawian teachers. Here, we further discussed the topics at hand, and collaborated to come up with ways the theories could be put into action in our classrooms.

It proved a struggle for many of the teacher’s to envision these theories in their classrooms because in their classrooms, they may have up to 200 students for just one teacher. Despite the differences in classroom environments and cultures, the Malawian teachers were incredibly open to new ideas, and were eager to share their own knowledge with all of us. In the end, we asked everyone, Malawian teachers and Ball State students alike, to share a bit about what they liked or learned during our time together. It became clear that we all learned a great deal from one another, and would definitely be taking new insights back with us into our classrooms and lives.

Lauren Rayborn is an Elementary Education student at Ball State University.