Children International Responds to Humanitarian Crisis at U.S. Border

Children International Responds to Humanitarian Crisis at U.S. Border

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Children and youth in the countries we serve face extreme poverty. ©2014 Children International

In many rural areas of Guatemala, families face unimaginable poverty. ©2014 Children International

Children International provides support through health and education services and youth development programs to help break the cycle of poverty. ©2014 Children International

Wednesday, July 16, 2014 - 4:30pm

CONTENT: Press Release

Kansas City, MO, July 16, 2014 /3BL Media/ - Details continue to unfold about the urgent humanitarian situation at the U.S. border as increasing numbers of children and youth – many from the countries in which Children International works, such as Guatemala and Honduras – flee the overwhelming poverty, instability and violence in their homelands. Their goal is to find refuge in the United States, yet they face a perilous journey with little hope of being able to stay once they arrive.

As a result, Children International has stepped up its efforts to discourage these misguided and dangerous trips and communicate that the best hope for surviving and escaping poverty is available via the support programs offered by CI.

Specifically, CI’s programmatic measures include:

  • Meeting one-on-one with children, youth and their families, especially those considered to be at-risk
  • Educating volunteer mothers, whose children are enrolled in the program and who have close relationships with local families, so that they can spread factual information and discourage perilous travels
  • Promoting the benefits of sponsorship in helping children and youth to grow into healthy, educated and self-reliant adults – allowing them to break free from their lives in poverty
  • Offering the refuge of CI’s community centers, which serve as safe spaces with caring and dedicated in-country staff and local volunteers who can nurture and protect vulnerable children from the dangerous neighborhoods in which they live

While the stability and comprehensive nature of our programs are being reinforced in the communities where we work, CI staff and partners are participating on a regional scale:

  • Working with organizations such as USAID to take advantage of CI’s existing Central American field locations to be preferred partners in developing youth-development programs and addressing unemployment issues, youth violence and the current migration to the United States
  • Participating in daily calls with FEMA and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to monitor the situation and offer advice and support
  • Tracking the funding of U.S. aid being sent to help develop additional programs for at-risk youth (including the same programs already offered by CI)

Recently, U.S. government officials and members of USAID have travelled to CI field agencies to view the organization’s efforts in service area centers such as Mariscal, one of Guatemala’s most-dangerous areas.

The situation is receiving attention from international political figures as well. Vice President Joe Biden also was in Guatemala and other Latin American countries recently to cover topics related to migration from Central America and Mexico to the United States. Additional dignitaries hoping to learn more about the scope of the situation include the Salvadoran President Sanchez Ceren, a delegation from Honduras and the Mexican Secretary of Security.

CI field staff members reported hearing about a handful of older youth who are attempting illegal immigration in the United States. CI President Jim Cook, however, reassures those who are concerned about their sponsored children that such instances are the exception and not the norm among sponsored families.

“Sadly, the phenomenon is not new,” Cook said. “Many ill-advised individuals – those who most need the benefits of CI’s programs and services – have mistakenly taken this road over the last few decades.”

For sponsors who are interested in helping stem the problem, Cook advised, “The best way to help is by doing exactly what you are doing – sponsoring a child.”

He particularly encourages those eager to make a difference to consider sponsoring a child in Latin America.

“Hope, support, medical and dental services, meaningful child and youth development programs, and a caring environment are essential to ensuring children have the health, education and life skills they will need to become employed and overcome poverty,” Cook explained. “Once they graduate from our programs and become self-sufficient, we hope they choose to stay in their home countries, help improve their own communities and give encouragement to others in similar circumstances.”

For sponsors willing to be more proactive in addressing the situation, Cook suggests seeking out other like-minded people who have the desire and means to become sponsors of children in Latin America.

“What these children and parents need is hope,” he emphasized. “We can give them that.”

About Children International
Children International prepares children and youth to escape the traps of poverty by supporting their critical needs, building resilience and engaging them in transformative activities. Children International accomplishes this by providing crucial benefits and compassionate care through easily accessible, modern community centers. Children International’s presence, programs and supporters have a positive impact on children, youth, families and communities; provide protection; encourage self-sufficiency; and serve as catalysts for change.

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Christy Howard
Corporate Communications
Children International
Direct:  (816) 943-3730

Brittany Gelbach
Public Relations
Children International
Direct: (816) 943-3832