Homes of Peace, Homes of Mercy

One of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals for 2030 is to ‘promote just, peaceful and inclusive societies’.

In a world where peace and inclusion can feel so far away, creating this kind of society may at times seem like a lofty ideal. But as individuals who form part of the NPH community, every day we have the chance to rise to that ideal and promote peace in all of those places we call home.

Father Alberto, our NPH Nicaragua chaplain, leads us in a reflection on finding peace in our homes.

HOMES OF PEACE, HOMES OF MERCY

Written by Father Alberto Cisneros Izquierdo, NPH Nicaragua (Original Spanish text below). English translations by Janet Chavez, NPHI

“We can breathe joy and peace around this home, from the first moment, we feel as part of the family!” This is the sentiment expressed by many of the people who visit us throughout the year. How do we achieve this? I think the key is what Father Wasson lived: “In my life, I found out that if you want to change the world you have to start with the children. Not only by changing the children, but by changing their hearts. If we are to change the world I think we should start with the children. We must start by changing their hearts.”

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Many of our children arrive with deep wounds, marked by hatred and resentment. These feelings generate violence and kill peace. If we want our children to be happy we must begin by helping them find the peace they have lost. For this reason Father Wasson always asked in his prayer “May God guide children to a life of mercy rather than of justice, teaching them to be merciful to one another.” Justice can restore the violated rights but only mercy can bring peace and joy to the heart. When our children discover God’s mercy, when they discover the joy to forgive and be forgiven, fruit of the resurrection of Jesus, then they become witnesses of God’s love.

And in the end love always wins. Maybe not immediately, but in the end love is stronger than hatred. At our homes we teach universal brotherhood. Who is my brother? Everyone is your brother. “We all care for each other. We have to work for one another if we ever want to make this world a peaceful world.”

Love instead of violence, has been key in Father Wasson’s life, inspired by the Holy Scriptures, especially in the Sermon on the Mount, and sometimes by good deeds of contemporary icons.

NPH Nicaragua_2016_Children_147“The biggest event of the last century, in my mind, was Mohandas Gandhi’s movement. He accepted an active non-violence. There is a difference between non-violence and active non-violence. People who are non-violent are people that hide and do nothing. But active non-violence means that you have it there, and do good things, while other people do evil things.”

Our goal is that our children respond to violence with love and by doing good deeds, because only love will change the world. If our children do not change their heart of rancor to a heart of mercy, then they will follow the same path of violence and neglect in their lives, and they won’t be agents of change in this society that seems to have lost the meaning of life.

“How happy are those who never stop

making this world a world of peace:

they travel where the brave have walked.

They shall be called children of God!

How happy the one preparing a plan

to be shalom between man and man

when hatred was destroyed and your victory won

this man of peace shall be son of God!”

From the book: Sermon on the Mount by Father Wasson

~ Father Alberto Cisneros Izquierdo

From Spain originally, Father Alberto is a Diocesan Priest from the Osma-Soria Diocese and was the priest of a pastoral unit of Almazán and a delegate of youth pastoral care before he arrived at NPH in 2011. 

 


HOGARES DE PAZ, HOGARES DE MISERICORDIA

Escrito por Padre Alberto Cisneros Izquierdo, NPH Nicaragua

“¡Qué alegría y paz se respira en este hogar, uno se siente desde el primer momento en familia!” Así me expresan muchas de las personas que nos visitan a lo largo del año. ¿Cómo lo conseguimos? Creo que la clave está en lo que el padre Wasson vivió: “Yo descubrí en mi vida que si quieres cambiar el mundo tienes que empezar por los niños. No ha sido solo cambiar a los niños, sino cambiar su corazón. Si vamos a cambiar el mundo creo que debemos comenzar con los niños. Debemos de empezar con cambiar su corazón”.

Nuestros hijos llegan muchos de ellos con profundas heridas, marcados por el odio y el rencor. Sentimientos que engendran violencia y matan la paz. Si queremos que nuestros hijos sean felices tenemos que empezar por ayudarles a encontrar la paz perdida. Por eso Padre Wasson pedía siempre en su oración “Que Dios guie a los niños a una vida de misericordia mas que de justicia. Que les enseñe a ser misericordiosos unos con otros”. Y es que la justicia puede restituir los derechos violentados pero solo la misericordia es capaz de devolver la paz y la alegría al corazón. Cuando nuestros hijos se encuentran con la misericordia de Dios, cuando descubren la alegría de perdonar y ser perdonados, fruto de la resurrección de Jesús, entonces se convierten en testigos del amor de Dios.

Y es que al final el amor siempre ganará. Quizá no de inmediato, pero al final el amor es más fuerte que el odio. Y en nuestros hogares educamos en la fraternidad universal. ¿Quién es mi hermano? Todos son tus hermanos. “Todos debemos cuidarnos unos a otros. Tenemos que trabajar unos para los otros si alguna vez vamos a llevar al mundo a algo cerca de ser un mundo en paz”.

Amor en lugar de violencia, ha sido una clave en la vida del padre Wasson, inspirado en las Sagradas Escrituras, especialmente en el Sermón de la Montaña,  y algunas veces por las buenas obras de iconos contemporáneos.

“El mas grande evento del siglo pasado, en mi mente, fue la aparición de Mohandas Ghandi. El aceptó  una no-violencia activa. Hay una diferencia entre la no violencia y la no violencia activa. La gente que es no violenta es gente que se esconde y no hace nada. Pero la no-violencia activa significa que la tienes allí, y haces el bien, mientras que otra gente hace el mal”.

Este es nuestro empeño, llevar a nuestros hijos a responder ante la violencia con amor y haciendo el bien, porque solo el amor cambiará el mundo. Si nuestros hijos no cambian su corazón de rencor en un corazón de misericordia, entonces seguirá la misma cadena de violencia y abandono en sus vidas, y no podrán ser agentes de cambio en esta sociedad que parece haber perdido el sentido de la vida.

“Qué dichoso son aquellos que nunca cesan

de hacer de este mundo una tierra de paz:

ellos viajan donde los valientes han pisado.

¡Ellos serán llamados los hijos de Dios!

Qué dichoso será el que forma un plan

de ser shalom entre hombre y hombre;

cuando el odio destruyo y tu victoria gano.

¡Este hombre de paz será hijo de Dios!”

Del libro El sermón de la montaña del P. Wasson

~ Padre Alberto Cisneros Izquierdo

Origin de España, Padre Alberto es Sacerdote Diocesano de la Diócesis de Osma-Soria (España). Antes de llegar a NPH en 2011, era sacerdote de la unidad pastoral de Almazán (Soria) y  delegado de pastoral juvenil de su diócesis. 

 

*Photo Credit to Mark Robinson (1st) and Anne Bergfeld (2nd), NPH Nicaragua

The Easter Journey: the Next 50 Days

Dear NPH Family,

As we celebrate once again God’s amazing love for us, journeying through this past Holy Week and now this Resurrection, we are filled with hope for new life and new beginnings. The Easter season is 50 days! From now till Pentecost how do we delve deeper into the mystery of God’s love? How do we LIVE the Easter miracle, the Easter signs of hope and lived faith? HOW can we make sure these 50 days are different than any other 50 days?

NPH Honduras_2015_Religion_1We can see with new eyes! Every morning wherever we are in our NPH Global community we can use words of hope and faith and love. Of smiles and solutions, and kindness. We can feel with compassion in this year of Mercy. We can above all live in gratefulness for all we have, including our legacy of Fr. Wasson’s miracle to care for vulnerable children! To give concrete thanks for the hundreds of childcare staff and volunteers we have who care for our children. To LIVE as if Easter REALLY happened! That Resurrection is possible EVERY DAY in the lives of our children and youth, and first and foremost in ourselves. Let us challenge ourselves in these next 50 days of Easter to live as if there REALLY IS an Eastertime, filled with hope, compassion, love and mercy. Then the spirit of Pentecost will fuel us in unknown ways to continue to serve our NPH family!

“God loves EACH of us as if there were only ONE of us!” St. Augustine

Donna Egge, NPHI Board Mission Ministry Chair & Director of Family Services

*photo credit: Hunter Johnson

Celebrating our Powerful Girls

Our Family Services team celebrates International Women’s Day on March 8th and we invite you to celebrate with us. Grab a coffee, sit back and read a new insight of the impact that NPH is making on Honduran girls in the local community through the Chicas Poderosas (‘Powerful Girls’) program.

 

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Chicas Poderosas girls with Zarine García, 2nd from the right  (photo by Karl Groneman)

Looking at the numbers alone, around 200 girls currently attend a Chicas Poderosas program across four of our NPH homes. One hundred of these NPH girls live in our Honduras home and are part of the NPH family, their ages ranging from 9 to 18. One component of this program that deserves a big shout-out is the benefit that it brings to the community outside of NPH: NPH staff and volunteers bring Chicas Poderosas to three local communities every week and serve approximately 50 girls from outside of the NPH home, in addition to the 100 who live in the home.

Zarine García, the Coordinator of Chicas Poderosas and Youth Development programs at NPH Honduras, describes their girls’ empowerment program also known as ‘Chicas’:

“Chicas Poderosas meets once a week with each group, and consists of a variety of activities, including educational, social and recreational activities, all of which are chosen and prepared with the goal of promoting healthy living, positive decision making, improving self esteem, strengthening relationships between the girls, and self awareness and self development.”

We interviewed Zarine to learn her insight on some of the challenging realities that young women face in Honduras as well as how our NPH program helps to fight these issues and stand up for our young girls and women. Below is an excerpt of this interview.

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A Chicas Poderosas meeting (photo by Hunter Johnson)

In just a few words, what is the main purpose of the ‘Chicas’ program?

“It is designed to talk to the girls about their rights as women, and also to teach them how to make healthy decisions, to become more self-sufficient and independent as women, and take an active role in their own lives and futures.

The program also offers the girls a safe environment where they can talk about their experiences, relax, and be themselves. Generally there are not other opportunities like this, especially for girls in the community.”

Girls in the home have the opportunity to go to Chicas Poderosas, but NPH Honduras also provides this program to girls outside of the home to the very communities where they live. Why is it important for the community girls outside of NPH to have the opportunity to go to ‘Chicas’ as well?

“In the community (outside of the NPH home), it’s rare for girls to have a place to go where it’s just them, or any sort of activity just for girls. The boys have soccer, but the girls have nothing, especially not in an environment free of leering eyes or inappropriate comments, which are openly given all too often by men and boys in the streets. With this program, they are provided with just that – a safe space, girls only, where the idea is to have fun, learn, and be themselves. It’s a chance for the girls to really open up and learn to be comfortable with themselves, knowing that no one there is going to judge or criticize them for what they think, feel, or ask.

Girls in the community also tend to have less access to information, and it’s not customary for parents to talk openly to their children about many topics, especially regarding relationships. This program provides the girls with appropriate information and also gives them the chance to talk and ask questions regarding these topics that they would most likely not have the chance to ask otherwise.

The program is also one of the rare organized activities for girls in the communities. It gives them a space to explore and participate in various activities, as well as learn new skills – cooking, jewelry making, arts and crafts – that they would otherwise not have the opportunity to take part in.

Although the program is still fairly new to the communities, there has been a noticeable change in the girls and their behavior since the time they started. They are more outgoing and participative, their ability to reflect and analyze has improved, and they are able to discuss the various topics we’ve covered while, many of which were completely unfamiliar to them with prior to the program. They are also quicker to relate and apply the topics to their own lives, something that was tricky for them in the beginning. Many of the girls have also openly expressed to us their enthusiasm for the program, calling it a high point in their week. Our community coordinators have also observed this, commenting that for many of the girls it’s the only sort of organized activity they have access to outside of school.”

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Zarine working with the older group of Chicas Poderosas girls (photo by Karl Groneman)

Is the goal the same for the community program as it is for the girls in the home? What differences do you see when going to a ‘Chicas’ program in the community compared to one in the home?

“Yes, the goal is the same in the community as it is for kids in the home, but requires a slightly different focus due to the differences in how the home is run and the culture in the communities. In general the focus tends to be more educational, since the community girls generally have less access to information than those in the home. This means more classroom type activities and learning-based games.

Another difference is that many girls in the community also tend to be more timid, insecure and disempowered due to stronger cultural messages outside the home. It is clear that they are not used to being asked their opinion or being given the opportunity to express themselves, especially with adults. This is another point of focus, encouraging the girls to speak out and speak up.

There is also a greater concern regarding relationships and teen pregnancy in the community, simply because many of the girls tend to have more freedom and spare time, and less supervision in many cases. This combined with their more timid and insecure nature makes them bigger targets for men who might not have the best intentions. For this reason, focusing on ways to build self-esteem, making sure they know their rights as human beings and as women, and helping them to be more sure of themselves are also priorities in the community.”

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We thank Zarine and the NPH volunteers for their work in the Chicas Poderosas program both in the home and outside community. Learning more about the work that you do was a high point in our week, and we too encourage these girls to speak out and speak up.

Sending loads of encouragement and warm wishes to you and these powerful young women on International Women’s Day!

Sincerely,

The NPHI Family Service team

 

Family: past, present and future!

By Avriel Burlot

In January we celebrated our 7th Youth Development Conference with nearly 50 participants from all nine homes!

What a better way to start the year but with energy, inspiration and motivation! Each January, at one of our NPH homes, we invite youths from each of our homes for a conference to focus on personal development, team work, leadership and a special focus on our NPH family.

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NPHI Youth Development Conference 2016

 

This past January 20th to 27th, 42 youth from Mexico, Honduras, Haiti, Guatemala, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Dominican Republic, Peru and Bolivia gathered at NPH Guatemala for our 7th Youth Development Conference. This year the theme was Family: past, present and future. The week focused on our NPH family in the past and how we have grown to where we are today and where we will be in the future.

Throughout the week, different topics were focused on, which included how to be an effective leader, self-awareness, how to manage one’s emotions, faith and the family and

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NPHI Executive Director, Miguel Venegas, practicing the week’s theme song with participants and youth from different countries

the history and development of our NPH family. The participants were engaged through various lessons, activities, games, reflections and prayers to really understand the themes throughout the week. In addition, the participants were able to actively engage with the special guests throughout the week with a panel and small group break out session. Special guests included Dr. Michael Maccoby, Reinhart Koehler, President of NPHI Board of Directors, Miguel Venegas, Executive Director of NPHI, Kara King, Fr. Reynaldo and John DeBlasio.

One of the integral themes of the week was empowering the youth to carry on the message and mission of Fr. Wasson. During the week, the participants were broken up into small

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A group of youth teaching Casa San Jose, a house of young boys in NPH Guatemala, about Fr. Wasson

working groups. They prepared and taught a lesson about Fr. Wasson and NPH to the children at NPH Guatemala. Each group was responsible for a different age group and had to adapt their message to reach their specific group. The groups were extremely creative and the children in the home thoroughly enjoyed spending time with their brothers and sisters from their international family.

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The planning team

This year we were fortunate to have an hermano mayor (older brother) and staff member from NPH Mexico and a university member and staff member from NPH Guatemala on the planning team. Ricardo Klayen (NPH Mexico) and Jacinto Arias (NPH Guatemala), both have attended the Youth Conference and are both graduates from the Seattle Institute, and Ricardo also graduated from iLEAP this past summer. They were essential members on the team. It is a huge success to have past participants now on the planning side of the conference. They bring a new perspective, new energy and in the end make the conferences more successful.

One of the participants in their evaluations commented, “to be in touch with our brothers [and sisters], we are able to realize that we are all important and we should all be heard and that we all have an important role in our family.”

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Our youth are the future of NPH and these conferences are a great opportunity for them to reflect and learn side-by-side their fellow brothers and sisters from all the NPH homes. The overall goal is to provide the information and keys for personal and professional development and for our youth to take what they absorb back home and to put it into action.

The Family Service Team (at your service)

Photos and article by Avriel Burlot

Christmas, What For?

When Father Reynaldo left NPH Honduras this past November, he didn’t really leave. The church he built, the memories, customs, rich religious community and his love for the kids remain at the home and live on, present in the daily life at the Ranch. Upon leaving Honduras this past November, he traveled south to visit NPH Bolivia for a little while, a few months, to spend time with the children during this Advent and Christmas season. The kids welcomed him with open arms, and he is there now, awaiting Christmas with them, cherishing his time and reflecting on its meaning. He shares one short page of his reflection with us.

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For the first time I am celebrating these Christmas parties in the southern hemisphere, in the summer without pine trees, or acorns and without feeling any bit of cold. I miss these familiar elements a bit, but none are essential to celebrate the birth of the Son of God.

Here at NPH Bolivia the advent wreath has been with us as a sign of preparation to receive and let the light of Christ shine in our lives and in those of others. Despite all the differences between Honduras and Bolivia, decorated Christmas trees, lights and the nativity are all clearly present in both countries.

One night while visiting the kids’ house to pray the Novena of Christmas I found a very well elaborated and decorated nativity scene. In its decoration I noticed that the kids had also added many of their toys, and then when I saw various soldiers in the shooting position with their firearms and a warplane, it made me stop and think. The kids then continued to show me their ‘military barracks’. My first immediate reaction was that a nativity scene should not be decorated with military elements. I suppose that it was more heavenly inspiration than my narrow-minded reasoning and involuntary lesson of faith from the children, that brought me to this conclusion: this nativity is actually perfectly appropriate given all that our world offers in vain and also suffers, with all of its endless, tireless wars. It is the world that God had not wanted but he chose it…for what?

The Gospel of St. John clearly states: “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.” God cannot help but intervene in the depths of life to ensure that the world is and remains His and not of evil and sin, though they still remain impactful forces.

DSC_0099_1Nativity Scene at NPH El Salvador

But this is not only on a global level, if we are honest, it is on an individual level where these forces remain having an impact. Even though we may never have a firearm, we could go to combat in our thoughts, words and actions. It is here where the incarnation of God through Jesus gives us the greatest lesson about our human nature as God has always wanted and it is: God became human so that we might all stop trying to become “gods”, taking advantage of the weaker ones, and instead learn to be ourselves in the way that Jesus has shown us.

Christmas is the celebration of the birth of the Son of God and I hope also the birth of the true self that God has placed in each one of us. In the background is the birth of Christ in our lives; lives that will transform more in the light than in darkness, more in heat than in cold, more in service than manipulation; and in the end they will be more divine lives because God puts his confidence in us before we begin to believe in Him.

A divine and ‘true self’ Christmas 2015

~Father Reynaldo

 

IMG_3258[2]Father Reynaldo, Sister Phyllis and House Director Bolíviar in NPH Bolivia (photo credit Jamila Noeprick)

La reflexión de Padre Reynaldo en español: 

‘Por primera vez estoy celebrando estas fiestas navideñas en el hemisferio sur y por ende en verano sin árboles de pino, ni bellotas y claro sin sentir algo de frío. Por mi costumbre pasada me hacen algo de falta. Pero menos mal que nada de eso es esencial para la celebración del nacimiento del Hijo de Dios.

Acá en NPH Bolivia nos ha acompañado la corona de adviento como señal de preparación para recibir y hacer brillar la luz de Cristo en nuestras vidas y en la de los demás. A pesar de las diferencias mencionadas, sí se encuentran los árboles navideños decorados, las lucecitas y claro el nacimiento.

Visitando uno de los hogares en una noche para rezar la novena de Navidad me encontré con un nacimiento muy bien elaborado y decorado. Entre su decoración me llamó la atención que los niños de ese hogar habían puesto varios de sus juguetes y aún más me quedé pensativo al ver varios soldados en posición de disparar con armas de fuego y hasta un avión de guerra. Los niños hasta me ensenaron el cuartel militar. Mi primer pensamiento espontáneo fue que así no debía estar decorado un nacimiento con estos elementos militares. Supongo que fue más la inspiración de los Cielos que mi razonamiento cuadrado y la involuntaria lección de los niños para mi fe que me llevó a la conclusión: Este nacimiento está perfecto con todo esto que nuestro mundo ofrece vanamente y bajo lo que sufre, no cansándose en llevar guerras sin término, es el mundo que Dios no ha querido pero que sí escogió, para qué?

El Evangelio de San Juan lo dice claramente: “Pues tanto amó Dios al mundo que envió a su único Hijo para que todo el que cree en Él no se pierda, sino encuentre la vida eterna. Porque Dios no envió a su Hijo al mundo para condenarlo, sino para que el mundo se salve por Él”. Dios no puede más que inmiscuirse hasta lo más hondo para que el mundo sea y quede siendo de Él y no de la maldad y del pecado, aunque sean fuerzas de mucho impacto.

Pero no sólo a nivel mundial, sino que, si somos honestos, también a nivel de cada uno están impactando estas fuerzas. Aunque tal vez nunca tengamos un arma de fuego, sí podemos llegar a combatir en nuestros pensamientos, palabras y obras. Es aquí donde la encarnación de Dios en Jesús nos da la más grande lección sobre nuestra naturaleza humana como Dios la ha querido siempre y es: Dios se hizo humano para que nosotros dejemos de querer ser como “dioses” sirviéndonos de otros y finalmente llegar a ser los humanos a la manera de Jesús.

Navidad es la fiesta del nacimiento del Hijo de Dios y ojalá también del nacimiento del humano que Dios ha depositado en cada uno de nosotros. En el fondo es el nacimiento de Cristo en nuestras vidas; vidas que se convertirán más en luz que oscuridad, más en calor que frialdad, más en servicio que manipulación; al final una vida más divina porque Dios ha confiado en nosotros antes que nosotros en Él.

Una divina y humana Navidad 2015

~Padre Reynaldo

We Remember

August is a time when our NPH community steps back and reflects on the life of Father Wasson, our dear founder of NPH. The work he did, grounded in faith and a higher purpose, lives on today well after the day of his passing, August 16, 2006. Donna Egge, NPHI Mission Minister and Director of Family Services, shares words of gratitude and inspiration that comfort us as we remember Father Wasson and all that he stood for, and that we continue to work for today.

Dear NPH Family,

As we come to the time of year when we remember Fr. Wasson intentionally, I can’t help but imagine just how proud he is of his pequeños and pequeñas and our global NPH family that continues to flourish today.  His goals from over 40 years ago (click here to read more) align with the goals we have today: education, vocational training, encouraging potential, becoming productive members of the respective communities. This is what WE DO! And it is possible to reach these goals, because we commit to never losing sight of the deep faith that inspired Fr. Wasson and inspires us today. This hope that rises from our faith, pushes us constantly to be the family that our children desperately need. It is through living and experiencing the founding principles from Fr. Wasson, of Sharing, deep felt Security, hard Work, and Responsibility that allows for the transformation and reaching of goals by our children and youth.Fr Wasson

I didn’t have the privilege of knowing Fr. Wasson well. I didn’t spend years growing up with him as my mentor. But I AM a dreamer! I imagine a world where the cycle of poverty can be broken. I AM inspired by a deep faith, by things that are mysterious, transformations that can’t be readily explained. I can see the feeling of belonging in the eyes of our children. And this I know to be the gift of Fr. Wasson for us today.

To LIVE this dream into reality. We are each called to remember, this month, our dear founder and in his name commit to work hard and to share what we have and what we know and what we believe, to provide security of love and education and the promise of a better future, and to be responsible together in our responses to the needs of our NPH family and the extended world in which both we and our children live.

Luz de Maria from NPH El Salvador reflects on her memories of Fr. Wasson, “I had the honor of meeting and knowing Fr. Wasson, who from the very beginning inspired me with this secure feeling as he told us, ‘I am your father, and this is your family now.’ I felt that truly this was the right home where I needed to be. NPH has taught me many things since I was received into the home. I can say without fear that here I have learned to dream and make those dreams become realities.”

May everyone today take a moment and give thanks to God for the presence of Fr. Wasson in our lives. May his dedication to his faith and his vision inspire us deeply in the coming year.

Paz y Bien,

Donna Egge
NPHI Mission Minister and Director of Family Services

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NPH and iLEAP: Providing Professional and Personal Development Opportunities to Hermanos Mayores and NPH Staff

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What happens when you invest in the lives of youth who know hardship personally and have experienced suffering and great loss in their young lives? When you meet their basic needs, give them opportunity and surround them with a family who cares?

With over 60 years of experience, NPH shows that as adults many use their education, skills and up-close understanding of the need in their communities to become strong leaders of positive change.

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Luz de Maria Lopez Vigil from NPH El Salvador presents her Applied Leadership Project and cumulative learnings after 4 weeks in the iLEAP Global Leadership Program for NPH. Photo was taken on July 2, 2015 at the graduation ceremony by Chip Rountree.

These ‘hermanos mayores’, or ‘older brothers and sisters’, are no longer under the direct care of NPH, but once they become part of the family they stay part of the family. They have become independent, strong and inspiring professionals. Many decide to work for NPH and take on leadership roles in the homes.

The NPHI Family Services team and supporters strive to invest in these leaders and provide unique professional development opportunities for them. From this effort arose the idea to partner with iLEAP, a Seattle-based, international organization designed to provide professional development opportunities and inspire leaders to ignite social change around the world.

John DeBlasio, founder of the Global Peace and Development (GPD) Charitable Trust and major supporter of NPH youth development and leadership programs for many years, shares one of the reasons he chose to invest in the NPH – iLEAP partnership.

“iLEAP has a strong track-record of developing social entrepreneurs from around the world.  Father Wasson was, among many things, an entrepreneur.  He was an innovative leader and inspired the creation of NPH, an organization which continues to thrive in his absence.  I see iLEAP as a resource for helping to develop the next generation of NPH leaders so they can develop into a modern version of the social entrepreneur that Father Wasson was.”

Caitlin Terashima, the Global Programs Coordinator of iLEAP, explains how the partnership developed, “I think after meeting, both organizations saw a common vision and a way of working together that could really align with both of our missions. We worked closely with Donna Egge (Director of NPHI Family Services) who approached us about creating a program specifically for NPH staff and hermanos mayores, who had a strong desire to work for NPH in the future.”

Soon after, ten participants arrived from El Salvador, Haiti, Dominican Republic, Mexico and Honduras, all NPH staff and/or hermanos mayores and spanning fields such as law, nursing and administration. They were chosen from an extensive list of applicants to leave their posts in June for a month of personal and professional development in the new program they named as ‘iLEAP Global Leadership Program for Nuestros Pequeños Hermanos’.

With the goal of developing leadership and igniting growth within each participant, the group participated in seminars and reflection, visited socially innovative businesses, received one-on-one coaching, and designed an applied leadership project to implement in their home countries.

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The 10 iLEAP Global Leadership Program participants (with Donna Egge, Director of Family Services) from Nuestros Pequeños Hermanos receive certificates of completion at the iLEAP Graduation Ceremony on July 2, 2015. (front, left to right: Donna Egge, Ricardo Velasco, Sandra Baca, Luz de Maria Lopez Vigil, Denis Morales, Miriam Garcia, Karina Rodriguez) (back, left to right: Hugo Ocampo, Yonel Posadas, Kenson Kaas, Christian Cruz)

The hermanos mayores and NPH staff arrived at this workshop already incredibly talented and skilled professionals, but their growth over the years and in the iLEAP workshop is inspiring.  John DeBlasio shares, “As I watch some of the Hermanos Mayores develop, it’s clear to me they have the intelligence and capacity to become very successful by any measure.  What I notice and inspires me is that they begin to develop real confidence in addition to their capabilities, which is key to fully actualizing their potential.”

Martha Karina Rodríguez Herrera was one of the participant of the iLEAP program . She is an hermana mayor from Mexico who became part of the NPH family at the age of 11, graduated from university, and is now 24, working as the Assistant Director of Public Relations and Fundraising at an NPH home in Matamoros, Mexico. She reflects on her month with iLEAP:

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left to right: Martha Karina Rodríguez Herrera from Mexico, Caitlin Terashima (iLEAP Global Programs Coordinator), Yonel Posadas from Honduras

“At the end of the program I noticed a great difference in me; this experience has helped me identify that I truly am a leader, and the type of leader I am and want to be in the future.

I learned to value myself, to be okay with myself and how to best develop my skills and activities. To be able to inspire others so that they can be leaders not only in the community but in the country. I learned to listen and share in a different way and to be open in a spiritual way and empathetic with all people.

I believe in myself and I know that if I do a little day after day, I can achieve great results.”

On behalf of the Family Services team, supporters and entire NPH family, we believe in you too!

All Photos taken by Chip Rountree