on the needles

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

New Photo of Nyslin

Nyslin in 2008

Nyslin's new photo 2009

Here's Nyslin's new yearly photo! I just love her sunshiney face. She's such a sweet little girl. I smile every time I think about her. I can see that she has grown up a little in this photo but she will always be a tiny little thing. She looks so pretty in pink.

I'm hoping that the timing of this photo means that she went to the CI office to get her funds for her Income Generating Project and they took her yearly photo at the same time. I'm hoping at least! I can't wait to see those chickens. Did she get the supplies? Was she surprised? Was her family happy? Or maybe she received the little package I sent her with the earrings. I don't know - but I have a feeling more photos can't be far behind!

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Monday, June 29, 2009

Make a Change

Heather, from the sponsor group I belong to, has created a website for our fund raising activities called Make a Change. The website is in rough form right now but will be added to over the coming days. You can find links to all of our current fund raising projects as well as updates (when they come in!) that will follow the progress of the projects we have funded.

Right now we are funding our 11th project - split into two parts! These are for two children that will soon be graduating from the Children International program. We are hoping to give the children Angelito and Jhonalyn a graduation gift that will cover some of their special needs.

Heather also has a large project running on Aura's House for her sponsor child Diego in Columbia. He has some special medical needs and has lost both of his parents to disease. He is currently being raised by his grandmother. Heather is trying to raise funds for Diego's medical care and also to provide household and educational needs. She also hopes to set up Diego's grandmother in an Income Generating Project. Heather is offering a Zune as a raffle prize to people who donate to the project - so go check it out!

One of the other sponsors from our group, Su also has a project up for her child Gema in Guatemala. Su is raising funds to give Gema some much needed household furniture.

Last but not least - my dear Ana and Zoila still have their projects going at Aura's House. Ana's project is over halfway at $1599/$2770 needed. Don't forget the Hexagon Blanket I'm offering to one lucky donor when the project is funded. Ana's family desperately needs the second income which her father Luis could earn by being able to uses his skills as an electrician. Ana's project will buy Luis the tools he needs to have a home workshop. He is unable to work outside the home due to his disability.

Zoila's project has hit the halfway mark as well - $425/$824. Hooray!! The Honduras is undergoing some political upheaval right now that makes it even more urgent to help Zoila's family have their own business raising chickens. The more self sufficient Zoila's family can be, the less they will be effected by the governmental turmoil.

So there you have it. We're working everyday to Make a Change!

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Chance to Support Knitters in the Third World

I ran across this Kiva loan that should appeal to all the knitters out there:


It's for a group in Bolivia that produces hand and machine knitwear. They still need quite a bit of money to fund their loan.

I love funding craft groups in Bolivia. It's been my experience that they pay the money back very quickly. So if you've been thinking about joining Kiva now would be a great time!

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Saturday, June 27, 2009

Javiera: My 2nd Chilean Sponsor Child

When Steve goes to Chile he will also hopefully be meeting my other sponsor child Javiera. I haven't mentioned Javiera on the blog much because, frankly I don't know that much about her.

What I do know doesn't seem very positive.

This is Javiera's home. She does have a bed, running water, a portable gas stove for cooking and toilet facilities.

Javiera's family situation is hard to figure out. She shares her home with her mother Valeska (I'm not sure which one she is - I assume the one in white), her Aunt and Grandmother. Javiera is six years old and has a brother Osvaldo, who is one year younger than her. Again, I'm not sure which one he is - I assume the one in the striped sweater? The other two children are Javiera's cousins that also live in the home. Javiera's father has abandoned the family.

I was very dismayed when I got these pictures. Javiera shares the general problems of poverty that my other sponsor children have as well as the lack of any adult males in the picture (again a common denominator in many of my sponsor children's lives). But in many respects Javiera seems to be by far the worst off of all of my children. Her home seems more unkempt than any of the others and Javiera herself seems neglected.

In this picture it looks like Javiera has not had a bath in some time and her hair looks like it hasn't been brushed. Her clothes don't seem very clean and the other children seem to be in the same state.

I was very depressed by seeing these photos. I've had these photos for over six months and haven't shared them before now because I don't really know what to say about how I feel. I don't wish to judge anyone with how they cope with such a situation of poverty. I don't know how my sponsor children and their families cope at all! But in every other situation I at least think that I see love, hope and a close family that is doing their best to survive. With Javiera I just don't know what I see.

The field worker form CI who took the pictures and talked to the family shares my frustration and also seems a bit baffled as to what to do. The family showed no interest in starting an IGP. Javiera's mother Valeska is a street vendor (as are the Aunt and Grandmother). The family has $200 a month currently - although it was closer to $100 until just recently. Maybe one of them has a new job? I don't know... The field worker in fact went back to the home on a second occasion to try to talk the family into an IGP but still with no luck. Children International is certainly trying to do it's best for this family. But the situation remains very frustrating. I'm pretty much at a loss as to how to help other than with sponsorship and special needs gifts for Javiera's birthday. Anyone have any suggestions?

Javiera's most recent photo is slightly more encouraging. But then again they obviously knew that she would be having her picture taken that day... I've never seen Javiera smile. I sometimes wonder if I ever will. I should be getting a more recent photo any time now as this one is almost a year old.

This case is a hard nut to crack. The letters I get from the family are very short and pretty much the same every time. "Javiera is fine, thanks for your help." The only other info I have learned about her is that she is very active, and mischievous and fights with her cousins. :) Hopefully when she gets old enough and she can write her own letters I can help her more and give her some encouragement. Thankfully she is in school as of the last report...

As for now I can only speculate about Javiera and hope...

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Friday, June 26, 2009

Carla's Birthday Gifts

How cute is Carla? The high ponytails are so sweet. :) Her birthday was in March and I recently received these photos from CI.

Carla's birthday gifts.

Carla seems like she is a girly-girl. The kind that would be a Hello Kitty fan. So I kind of chuckled when I saw the pattern on the package. It looks like Hello Kitty to me - or at least the Chilean version! I think the package contains her new sheets for her bed.

This is the first year that I sent a special needs gift for Carla's birthday. I think last year I had just barely started to sponsor her and had not yet caught on to the idea of sending a special needs gift for birthdays. I was still thinking I would be sending packages and small gifts of money. Since then I have figured out that a special needs gift works out so much better all around. The larger chunk of money all at once helps the family out more and goes farther and I get photos. Win-win!

Carla's new coat!

Carla was especially happy to get a new winter coat. It must be windy and cold in Chile because all the kids always seem to be bundled up. Maybe it's the elevation...

Carla and her mama Margarita writing a letter to me. Margarita has beautiful handwriting.

I think that the special needs gift and the fact that I remembered Carla's birthday have helped to convince Carla that I am really going to be there for her. That I'm not going to just disappear. She seems to have opened up more and started becoming more interested in me as a person. In her last letter she drew a picture of my daughter. It was cute to see what she thinks my daughter must look like because she hasn't seen photos yet. In Carla's mind my daughter is something of a fairy Princess. It must seem that way to her when she thinks about this other little girl that lives so far away.

I hope that Steve's visit will help reinforce to Carla that her sponsor is thinking about her! I'm so jealous that he gets to meet her. I hope I will also someday.

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Thursday, June 25, 2009

Carla's Family and Housing Photos

Next week super sponsor Steve is flying to Chile to meet and spend some time with several of his sponsor children. As he did when he recently went to Guatemala, Steve has volunteered to meet with and take photos of other children sponsored by people in our group. In fact, he will be meeting with 11 children on his second day! I hope Steve has lots of room on his memory card - 11 kids sounds like tons of photos!

Hopefully Steve will be meeting with two of my children - one of which is Carla.

My sponsor child in Chile, Carla.

Carla lives with her family in/near Valparaiso, Chile. I have been sponsoring her for a little over a year.

Carla outside her home with her mother Margarita and brother Hans (13).

Carla is fortunate that her home has running water and a toilet. These are luxuries that many of my sponsor children do without. They also have beds and cook on a portable gas stove - again, things many of my sponsor children do not have.

Carla's home.

Carla's father Carlos is a street vendor like so many of the parents. Margarita stays home with the children. The family has requested an IGP to set up a small store in their home where they could sell household items and hygiene products like soap, shampoo, toothpaste etc. I think it's a good idea since it would bring a second income for the family while allowing Carla's mother to still stay at home with the children. They need the start up money to buy stock as well as supplies to repair that part of their home to make it suitable for a store. I'm waiting for an update on the IGP and hope to get it started within the next six months.

Carla and family outside her home.

Carla's family has always been at the top of my group of sponsor children in terms of the money they have to live on. They currently have $226 a month - somewhat less than they have had in the past. However, I don't think the impact of poverty can be judged solely by the dollar amount associated with a family - there are so many other factors. For instance - it may be easier for Joey's family to live in a rural farming area for only $21 a month and much harder for Carla's family to live in a town/city on considerably more money.

Luckily Carla's brother Hans has a sponsor. And having only two children in the family helps to keep the financial stress down somewhat.

It took quite awhile for me to feel like I had developed a connection with Carla. I'm sure that part of the reason is Carla's age - she just barely turned six years old. So her mother has been in charge of writing letters for her. It's hard to get a six year old child to express their thoughts for a letter to someone they have never met. I'm also Carla's first sponsor so I'm sure that she has been trying to figure out how this whole relationship works. :) Carla's letters were very short and general for a long time. I kept at it though and recently I have been getting more of a picture of Carla's character and her likes and dislikes.

She recently requested that I send her some photos of me and my family which I did. Hopefully she has received the package - or at least will very soon. I was happy that she was expressing curiosity about me and wanting to get to know me better. She also seems to like to hear about my daughter. I think Carla is curious to hear about the life of a little girl in another country and culture.

So - all in all things have been going well with building my relationship with Carla. Some of my children became very attached to me right away (Ana, Harry and Maica come to mind.) Some of the children have very sunny, open personalities (Nyslin and Jhonny) and we became friends very quickly. Others (Hermelinda and Zoila) are more shy and reserved and more slowly come to believe that I am a friend who will be there for them. It's a different journey with each child and I enjoy the process with all of them.

I think that when Steve meets Carla he will meet a very cute little girl with gorgeous long hair and a radiant smile. I've never had a problem getting a smile out of Carla! She's very photogenic so, like I said, I hope Steve has lots of memory on that camera of his!!

Carla's most recent photo from CI. She's such a beautiful little girl!

I'm really looking forward to the years to come, watching Carla grow and change and our friendship to grow stronger.

Next time I will show you the photos of Carla getting her birthday gifts!

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Lesly's Birthday Presents and Other Updates*

Whew! Summer has well and truly kicked in around here. Mother Nature finally stopped with the incessant rain she'd been pouring on us for literally a month, and now has decided to try to sweat us all to death instead! It's 90 degrees and humid. Ick.

The school to summer transition has settled down so I can catch up on what's been going on since my last post....

The hideous heat hasn't stopped me from working on a ginormous knitted blanket though. I'm always so out of sync with the knitting seasons... sigh.

Last week I knit two (of four planned) large log cabin blocks and of course promptly changed my mind about how I want the blanket to look. So I've switched over and begun a log-cabin-of-many-colors blanket. This one will be a single, huge log cabin block and will hopefully use up most of my stash of Elann Sonata. That stuff is excellent for blankets.

Speaking of blankets - Mike who won the blanket for Nyslin's project requested that I donate the blanket to a charity. I chose Project Linus. I'm sure that my blog friends already know about Project Linus but I'll include the link anyway. I dropped the blanket off with the local chapter last weekend.

And Steve, who won Jester's project blanket, says he has received the blanket it looks good in his apartment.

So it's been happy blanketyness all round. :)

And in more good news my Income Generating Project for Joey over at Aura's House has been fully funded!! Thank you!! Thank you!! Joey's family of six somehow gets by on only $21 a month. Joey's family has the least income of all my sponsor children. And he is the only one of the children that is sponsored so he is the only one that gets the medical, health and educational benefits of sponsorship. Raising and selling hogs will make a huge impact on their income.

And the good news just keeps on coming because Kanika's project is completed as well. One of the other super sponsors, Dana, had the brilliant idea of holding a raffle. She raised hundreds of dollars for Kanika in the blink of an eye! Way to go Dana! I don't know yet how Children International and Kanika's family will use the money. Hopefully they will be able to at least start re-building their house. We will probably have to raise more money for Kanika in the long run but at least the family can get some significant relief right now.

We also recently received these adorable pictures of Lesly showing us what she bought with her birthday money that we sent. I love how she is nearly swamped by all the groceries in the first photo. It's sort of a Lesly version of "Where's Waldo". :)

Lesly with the spoils of her birthday shopping spree.

We should be getting an update on the progress of Lesly's roof project any time now. I can't wait!!

I just love Lesly's Cheshire Cat smile!

I talked about this in my last post but I've been thinking some more this past week about what my next step will be for my sponsor kids after I get all of their Income Generating Projects in place. So far I have funded (or am funding) projects for:

7.Hermelinda (2)

I have proposals in the works for:
3.Mary Joy
5.Javiera (special needs)
7. And hopefully and additional housing project for Hermelinda.

I'm also teaming up on a project for Alison with my sister who sponsor's Alison's brother Jhonathan.

I can probably get most of these projects launched by the end of this year. That's my goal anyway! After that, I am thinking I will concentrate on making sure that all the children have adequate bathroom facilities. Some of them do already but most of them share a community latrine. It would be much healthier of they each had their own - can you imagine not having a bathroom? I can't.

I have nothing in the works yet for my three newest sponsor children. I have to get to know them and their families better before I can determine what their needs might be. I'm sure I will end up doing an IGP for those three families as well sometime in the future.

And lastly - I finally feel like my eyes have gotten adjusted to the contacts. Now I can "See the world in HD" just like that annoying TV commercial... I've gotten pretty good at putting them in easily. Taking them out is harder but I'm starting to get the hang of it.

There you go. Those are all the updates I can think of/have time for right now. What have all of you been doing??

*If you are looking for creative blog post titles I'm afraid you are in the wrong place. :)

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Friday, June 19, 2009

Kanika's Story

If you read my blog it should be obvious to you that I am very devoted to my sponsor children.

Since September of last year I've been working my way through my list of 18 children, trying to start an Income Generating Business Project for each family so that they can hopefully work towards a better lifestyle for themselves. If the family is unable to sustain a business, then I have tried to help them with any special needs like home repair, buying beds, cooking supplies - anything they might need to live more comfortably.

So far I have helped seven families (one family has had two projects- so eight projects total) plus I currently have three more projects in the works. So ten families have been helped in all! At this time, I have only heard back from three of the projects so I am looking forward to lots and lots of pictures and reports in the near future. I can't wait!!

I also have plans for projects for six more of my families. Right now I am waiting for various updates and clarifications etc. so although I can't tackle those projects right away, I will probably start in on them in the late summer. The last two of my sponsor children are my newest kids and I have not yet made a plan for them.

So - whew! I've been BUSY!

In addition to my own sponsor kids, I am also part of a group that raises money to help other sponsors fund projects for their children. To date this group has funded eight projects and the ninth one is very close to completion! The group operates on a "pay it forward" type philosophy that has been very successful so far. All of these projects have been funded in the space of just a few months! In fact, we've been funding projects so fast that we haven't even gotten the report or pictures back from our very first project yet! So cool. I'm happy to be part of something so positive. I'm really looking forward to seeing those results as well.

So - all of this brings me to the subject of today's post. Our group has stepped up to help a young girl named Kanika.


Her story really touched me, and her situation is so urgent that I've decided to post about it here. Kanika lives in India. Her region was recently affected with severe floods which totally wiped out Kanika's home.

Kanika's family in front of their mud home, now totally destroyed.

All of their possessions were lost as well. The family literally escaped with only the clothes on their backs. The good news is that the family does own the land on which their house stood - a rare circumstance amongst sponsored children. So if we can raise the money, we can build Kanika a new home! The other good news is that the US dollar goes VERY far in India. We can probably build Kanika a new, more permanent structure for very little money. The family had also proposed a plan for an Income Generating Business before the flood. Children International will now work with the family to determine the best course of action - proceed with the IGP or put the funds towards rebuilding.

Kanika with gifts provided by her sponsor, unfortunately now all destroyed by the flood.

You can read more about Kanika's story here. Any donations are tax deductible.

Someone said to me the other day that, "You have to do what you can, but you can't really change anything."

My reply was, "I may not be able to change everything wrong in the world but I know for a fact that I can change one child's world."

I hope to help change the world for Kanika!

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Thursday, June 18, 2009

New Yearly Photo of Joey

This is the first new photo I have had of Joey for probably about six months. He looks so much more grown up to me. He's definitely turning into a pre-teen.

Joey also wrote me a cute letter that I received last week. Joey is not quite as fluent in English as my other Filipino children so his letters are sometimes unintentionally quite funny. Joey had previously mentioned that in the Philippines they celebrate with fireworks at Christmas time. This led to me telling him that we also had fireworks for our Fourth of July in the USA. In this letter Joey told me how much he loves fireworks but quickly assured me that "they are not dangerous for a user like me". Lol! He also told me that he had heard from his "olds" (I think he means elders) that they celebrate fourth of July in the Philippines in order to mark the day called "according to them, the Philippines - American Friendship Day" he goes on to say that "speaking to tradition, I always see to my olds - especially my grandparents". Lol! I'm sure he means to say that when he wants to know about traditions he asks his elders. Too cute.

He also told me, "I have also a youngest baby boy. His was Andre, he was ten months old, he was the cute and beautiful among the four children." Now - I am hoping that he means to tell me that he now has a new baby brother and how cute the baby is. But because of the confusion in tenses have/was, I'm worried that he might be telling me he had a baby brother who died. I hope not! I'll have to ask CI about it. Joey doesn't go on to say that he is sad or anything so I think the correct interpretation is that he has a new baby brother.

Joey's project is sooooo close to being completed at Aura's House. I'm very excited for him! I'm hoping that I will start receiving updates about my other, completed projects soon as well.

In crafting news - I've started a new blanket. That seems to be my "go to" project when I need something easy and stress free. It's a garter stitch log cabin. A good old standby. :)

I've knit the body of a February Lady Sweater out of Cash Iroha and Silk Garden. I love it so far, but put it on the back burner when it came time to do the sleeves. I'm not in the mood for knitting on DPN's right now.

Also - I was thinking about entering something in the fair this year but it turns out that the timing won't work out so I'm kind of bummed. :( Maybe next year -(although that's what I've been hoping every year). Ah well...

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Monday, June 15, 2009

Beautiful Ana

Just look at these new photos I got of Ana. Isn't she beautiful? There is just something about her that I really like. She has such a serene presence but at the same time she can be so silly and funny. I think the sweatsuit that Ana is wearing was her Easter gift from Children International.

The serene Ana...

and the happy, joyful Ana!

I wasn't expecting to get these photos. I had found some Easter cards in Spanish so I took the opportunity to wish my Spanish speaking children a Happy Easter and send them some family photos as well. I didn't think that such a simple gesture would get me these wonderful photos back - thank you CI!

This is Ana with her mother Monica. I was happy to see Ana's mother because she wasn't included in the family photos I have. Monica is currently the only source of income for her family due to her husband Luis's disability. She has to work long hours as a maid which is why she was unable to be present for the family photos.

Ana writing her letter to me. She told me that she is on her summer break and how excited she is that she will start high school next year.

Ana's twelfth birthday is just a month away. I've sent her (and Maica and Jester who also have July birthdays) a special needs gift so the family can purchase whatever they might need. But I also spent most of today making up little packages to send to Ana and several of the other sponsor kids as well. My daughter chose little items to send to Lesly and the other Guatemalan girls Nyslin and Hemelinda - little things like bracelets, earrings, hair accessories. Just girly stuff. And Carla had requested some new photos so I had to send some of them as well. I'm exhausted! It's amazing how long it takes to put together packages for seven different kids!

Wouldn't it be great to finish Ana's IGP project in time for her birthday?? If there ever was a kid that will appreciate such a gift, it's Ana.

Update from Aura's House:

Ana's Project: $1564/2770 - we're over halfway there!!
Zoila's Project: $390/824
Joey's Project: $669/723 only $54 left to raise!
Nyslin's Project: Completed!
Lesly's Project: Completed!

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Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Winner of the Blanket for Jester's Project

Today Jester's IGP was fully funded! Thank you to Camille who stepped up and made such a generous contribution to close out the project. And thank you so much to everyone who supported Jester. He and his family now have hope for an improved lifestyle. Thank you all!!!!

Now to choose a winner of the handmade crochet blanket I made for Jester's Project!

I arranged this giveaway along the same lines as the one I did for Nyslin's Project. Every donation from $1-$5 was assigned a number. I came up with 113 numbers.

1-2 Dee
3-6 Efrain
7-8 Holly
9-10 Su
11-16 Kayara
17-26 Jim and Mack
27-31 Heather M
32-37 Steve
38-40 Robyn
41-44 Cherise
45-48 Tamara
49-52 Wilfredo
53-54 bsem130
55-64 Efrain
65-113 Camille

I plugged the numbers into the Random Number Generator and the winning number was chosen.

The winning number is #32 which belongs to Steve! Congratulations Steve! I will contact you and get your blanket to you ASAP.

I can't wait to hear from Jester when he receives the news of his IGP. He will "jump for surprise" (as he said in another letter). Jester waited two years before finding a sponsor and he has never failed to express how grateful he is to finally have that relationship with us. I'm really looking forward to sharing the updates and photos I receive of the progress of his project.

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Friday, June 05, 2009

Hexagon Blanket for Ana's Project

As promised - here is the blanket I will be giving away for Ana's Project over at Aura's House.

Ana's Income Generating Project is going very well - slowly but surely getting there!

I've been told that Aura's House is exploring the idea of beginning buying some of the tools Ana's father Luis will need for his workshop rather than waiting for all of the money to come in. I'll let you know if that happens.

In the meantime - about the blanket...

I used hand dyed sock weight yarn from various Etsy artists. The subtle variations in the colors are really beautiful. I especially like the grey because it has so much depth.

And the "green" is also brown, blue and bits of other colors as well.

I had fun crocheting this. I had never tried hexagons before. And the bobbles were new to me too. I like the texture they add.

The blanket is a comfy lap size - perfect for TV watching and otherwise lazing about on the couch. :)

The giveaway will work just like the one I did for Nyslin's Project. Every donation up to $5 gets it's own number. When Ana's Project is fully funded I will have a random number generator choose the winning number.

Good luck!! And thank you again to everyone who has so generously helped my sponsor children. Check back again soon as I have some beautiful new photos of Ana to post!

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Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Winner of Blanket for Nyslin's Project

Okay here we go!

I sorted out all the donations that were made to Nyslin's project. After subtracting any donations made by my relatives - :) I assigned a number for each of the remaining $1-5 increments. I came up with 101 numbers. I entered the number range into the random number generator and ......

The winning number for the Crazy Colors Blanket for Nyslin's Project was:

#95! which belongs to Mike E.

Congratulations Mike E. I hope you will enjoy your new blanket!

Thank you to everyone who donated. I wish I had a million hands and a million skeins of yarn (my stash is big - but not that big!) to crochet blankets for each and every person who supported Nyslin's project - and my other kids as well.

Stay tuned though because I do have something to giveaway for Ana's project as well!!

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Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Great News for Nyslin and Joey!

Great news! I announced the blanket giveaway for Nyslin's Income Generating Project and the next thing I knew the project was completed!! A heroic donor stepped up and not only finished out the rest of the funding for Nyslin, he also brought Joey's project up to only $87 away from the goal. I'm stunned by the generosity of everyone who has helped out with the Aura's House projects for my kids. Thank you so much!

Here's the latest update on my sponsor kids projects at Aura's House:

Aura's House update:

Ana's Project: $1548/2770 - we're over halfway there!!
Nyslin's Project: Completed!
Zoila's Project: $293/824
Joey's Project: $636/723 only $87 left to raise!
Lesly's Project: Completed!

I will announce the winner of the blanket for Nyslin's project ASAP!

In the meantime, here are some photos of Joey with his summer package:

I think Joey has a cute smile.

Joey loved the postcards we sent, especially those of the sea animals because Joey loves the ocean and loves to swim.

Like many of our sponsor kids, Joey says he likes to take the photos we send him to school to show to his friends and teachers. So sweet!

I also want to mention that Aura's House is celebrating their 5th birthday! That's five years of helping children and their families to be able to live a better life. In honor of their fifth birthday please consider making a donation of $5 to one of all of the projects on their site. They have added two new projects lately, one for Mirriam in Zambia and another for Joselin in Guatemala in addition to the projects for my kids, Ana, Zoila and Joey that are ongoing. Happy 5th birthday Aura's House!!

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