Hello Friends! We want to share some exciting news with you all, but first, here’s a little context…
The mission of Help One Now is to empower families in developing countries through high-capacity local leaders with proven solutions to end extreme poverty. As many of you know, we have an audacious 10 year goal to empower 100,000 families, through education and entrepreneurship, by the year 2030. This will impact 3-5 million lives and change the world forever!
In this mission and toward this goal, our greatest assets are the local leaders with whom we partner. We do not take partnership lightly. We only work with the best leaders who fit our criteria and are already doing effective, long-term work to empower families in their community. The pathway to partnership can take years, but the end result is mutual dedication, trust and highly effective work. We know that a key part of reaching our 10 year goal will be responsibly forging new partnerships with high-capacity local leaders, opening up new opportunities to empower families and break cycles of poverty.
With that in mind, we would like to share a brief story and make an exciting announcement… In late 2017, Jennifer Cristofaro of Bentonville, AR began a conversation with me and Chris Marlow about a strong female local leader in Belize City, Belize — Julie Miguel. Julie was, and is, a business owner who started an urban youth community center 8 years ago after getting to know the difficult situations of many of the young people who would hang out in front of her store and cause trouble. Today, Julie and her husband, Nigel, run an organization called Water Walkers, which serves hundreds of kids and teenagers every day by providing meals, tutoring, mentorship, spiritual development and valuable life skills. The work of Water Walkers is making a huge difference in the lives of these young people, and their next step is to begin to empower the families of these kids…that’s where Help One Now has stepped into the story. After a good deal of research, several video calls, and a few trips to see the situation firsthand, we agreed that:
- the HON Family Empowerment Program is a good fit for Water Walkers and Belize City;
- Julie and Nigel Miguel are a good fit for Help One Now as high-capacity local leaders;
- a strong presence in Belize could open a doorway into Central America where empowering vulnerable families can have a huge impact;
- and with Jen Cristofaro rallying solid financial support through her network, we knew we would have resources to implement the program without taking away from any of our other work.
With that settled, we began taking steps toward partnership…and one big step was bringing our Global Empowerment Director, Dr. Aschalew Abebe, from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia all the way to Belize. Aschalew designed and pioneered our Family Empowerment Program, and now he oversees its implementation in communities around the world! Aschalew and I flew down to Belize for a few days last November to spend some time with the Miguels, meet families in the community, and get an overall assessment of the viability of the program in this context. We laughed a lot. We cried a little. We encouraged one another, and we caught a vision for the future. Here are a few words for you all from Aschalew himself,
“When I was in Belize I saw a huge need for family empowerment. I met hard working but struggling families. Julie and Nigel are truly a gift to the Belize people, they know how to love, give and serve. Their deep and strong connection with the local people is just amazing. I’m very excited about this new partnership as we are going to work together to empower vulnerable families and change lives forever.“
You read that right…this new partnership! As of July 2020, after board approval in June, Help One Now and Water Walkers are officially partners in Belize City!
Above are a couple photos of myself and Aschalew in Belize meeting families in the empowerment program, as well as meeting with Julie and Nigel.
Here are some words from Jennifer & Phil Cristofaro, our key advocates for the work in Belize:
“Last year, Help One Now worked out a special situation for Phil & I to fundraise through them on behalf of Water Walkers in Belize City. They provided the tools to pilot the HON Family Empowerment Program while they evaluated the leadership, the need, the opportunity, and the support available to sustain the program.
And today, Water Walkers in Belize City is officially a partner of Help One Now. This is HUGE! This has been years of dreaming, hoping, planning, and praying for a way to fulfill the vision we share with Julie & Nigel to change this city…and this world! Now, instead of just our little community advocating for Belize, we have the support of the entire Help One Now family along with their expertise and leadership.
It is with much love, respect, and humility, that we say THANK YOU from the bottom of our hearts. A dream has been fulfilled that will cause a domino effect of fulfilled dreams to sweep across Belize City spreading contagious joy and hope throughout their community. God has an incredible plan for our brothers and sisters and they are starting to believe it themselves because of your generosity. Let’s do this!”
On behalf of Help One Now, I would like to say that we are just as excited about this partnership as Jen is, and it really is your generosity and the passion and expertise of leaders like Julie and Nigel Miguel, that continue to push this mission forward! We have set up a page on our website devoted to Belize where you can find more information about the work that’s happening on the ground.
At Help One Now, one of our favorite axioms is our greatest gift is one another, and so, we are grateful for the gift that is each one of you. We are thankful to be part of your story and for you to be a part of ours.
Together We Build,
Lamar Stockton – Director of International Operations, Help One Now