It all began when members of an Oklahoma church went on a mission trip to Northern Uganda. They were alarmed by the overwhelming orphan crisis that had been created by a terrible raid on an internal displacement camp populated by those who were hiding from the Lord’s resistance army (LRA), a rebel army that has destabilized the region with 25 years of war. The war, as well as economic turmoil, an ongoing epidemic of AIDS and malaria, has left the country with over 3 million orphans.
“Someone should do something about this,” the missionaries thought. “WE should do something about this.” So, they returned to the US and in 2009 birthed Project Hope Worldwide (PHW) from Owasso, Oklahoma. Their mission: Receive, provide refuge and restore hope to the world’s most vulnerable children in Jesus’ name.
They do this by providing excellent holistic care, which they define in these five key elements that a father would provide for his child:
- Spiritual and character development
- Medical care
- Safety and security
- Food, water and clothing
PHW currently has 3 Hope Projects serving over 220 children with 80 employees worldwide, all managed by 3 fulltime, 3 volunteer directors and 2 part time employees in Oklahoma. In order to retain 100% oversight, all Hope Projects are owned and operated by the nonprofit. Each Hope Project is built to the highest local standards by nationals which help stimulate the local economy.
PHW’s first and largest Hope Project, “Calo Me Lare” (translation: Village of Redemption) serves more than 130 children most of which live on site due to the dire circumstances they faced and the need for immediate intervention. Many of the first children in Calo Me Lare were orphaned because of the LRA’s attacks.
As world standards for orphan care began to shift away from the traditional orphanage, PHW quickly saw the value of advocating to keep vulnerable children within a family/caregiver unit when possible. PHW adopted that model for the next two Hope Projects, focusing on the holistic needs of vulnerable children within a family, not in an orphanage.
PHW chose an area 20 km outside of Juarez, Mexico known as “The Colonias” as their next Hope Project. The Colonias is a desolate valley where thousands of Mexican families have migrated to escape the violence of the city and work in the international factories as laborers for dollars a day. In the Colonias, they witness a different kind of poverty, hard-working people who want more for their families but through death or abandonment, many children are orphaned, leaving their futures bleak and families barely surviving. PHW now serves 37 vulnerable children who have their holistic needs met and hopes to add to that number in 2019.
The second poorest country in the Western Hemisphere became home to PHW’s third Hope Project. Outside the country’s second largest city, a dump covered with dirt has become a refugee site/widow’s village called “Tomas Borge.” Mothers and their children live under tarps and spend their days digging for whatever metals and plastics they can sell for food. PHW’s focus in Tomas Borge was clear, through their holisitic care they would advocate for these children and and get them out of the dump. PHW now serves 57 children at the Nicaragua Hope Project and can proudly say none of their children are forced to dig in the dump.
The heart-warming story of a 16-year old boy named Jelson, PHW’s first high school graduate, shows just how dedicated the staff is to its mission. Jelson had been in the Hope Project for a number of years when one day his mother asked the staff for additional help because he was on a bad path and getting into trouble. The local staff and pastor, employed by PHW, invested time and energy into Jelson, a teacher tutored him after hours, and the director gave him a leadership role at the project teaching him about responsibility. It worked. When graduation time came Jelson remembered the investment and asked the US Director to accompany him and his mom across the stage to accept his diploma. Through their holistic care, PHW aims to raise children to affect positive change in their own communities and countries, Jelson’s incredible transformation—from the city dump to now college—serves as a testimony to the work they’re doing.
PHW’s Fundraising Models
Child Sponsorship: PHW connects donors to their mission through child sponsorships which provide for the holistic needs of a child at $190/month which may be divided amongst child sponsors until the child is fully sponsored. Most child sponsors join at the entry level $38 Partnership and stay for an average of 7 years. With this model PHW is currently 83% sponsored across all Hope Projects.
RIPPLE is PHW’s annual fundraising gala and celebration. Each year donors, child sponsors and guests celebrate the work that has been accomplished and focus on raising funds for capital and special projects. This year RIPPLE is on May 10th and will be held in Tulsa, Oklahoma, with special guest speaker and renowned author Bob Goff.
The PHW Difference
Being a smaller nonprofit and having 100% ownership, PHW can be more intentional and go deeper with the level of care they offer in their efforts to raise the whole child. Child sponsors are encouraged to write letters or even join one of their many teams and meet their sponsored child.
Transparency is important and that’s why PHW has its 100% model that every child sponsorship dollar goes towards the holistic care of the children. They are able to accomplish this through strategic partnerships with churches, private donors and corporations who support the day-to-day operational costs.
“iDonate makes this so easy,” says Kendra Mark, Director of Development. “We have the iDonate embed on our website, and people can sponsor a child by filtering the country or gender. They can see available children’s profiles, and sponsor monthly, quarterly, annually – whatever they want. On our general donate page we can put anything we want in the dropdown menu – from greatest need, short-term missions to campaigns for Christmas donations—and it gets coded correctly to our accounting system and CRM.”=
“It’s super simple to set people up with their sponsored child and we know exactly where every dollar came from and where it is going. This allows us to keep our 100% model that every dollar given for child sponsorship is restricted; The iDonate platform has allowed us to be better about showing where money goes, which has been proven every year in our audits. It’s a big benefit not having to track the designated funds on the backend.”
“iDonate’s peer-to-peer fundraising has revolutionalized fundraising for our Short-Term Team Trips. Each Team Member can create and share their fundraising page with details of where they’re going, why and what they’ll be doing. With a few simple clicks they can share through email, text and across social media and it’s all tied to our iDonate platform. Team Members can see in real time when donations come in and how close they are to their goal.”
“We’ve even accepted a car through iDonate’s noncash platform. It was super easy for us and sponsored a child for a whole year!”
Happy 10th Anniversary
Making it to a 10th anniversary is a big deal for a nonprofit, and we’re excited to be able to be a part of such a momentous milestone for Project Hope Worldwide by highlighting all the work they’re doing for vulnerable children around the world.