St. Vincent Initiative

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Give to the Max Day has passed, but we can always use frequent flier miles. Donating United Airlines frequent flier miles helps us get to St. Vincent and the Grenadines to train workers to help traumatized children.

Our DIY twist #1 is "Miles, not Money." You can donate frequent flier miles to Cedarbrook through the generosity of United Airlines and our partnership with Airline Ambassadors International. Go here to see how. (It's quick, but there are two steps.)

This is the first part of the intervention plan and is currently under review (so it might change a little). I have heard many people tell me to go slow and be patient. One of the gifts of the Spirit is patience (apparently also translated as long-suffering).

So, rather than attempt to train people in January 2018, it has been suggested that I take a few more trips to build trust.

1) Visit 3 times in 2018 - spreading the word and building trust.
2) Hire an on-the-ground organizer to continue the enthusiasm between visits.
3) Get more details that will help in structuring sponsorships and agreements to keep the children/families in the programs.
4) Plan for the 3-layer mentoring training (Kinship Partners will help us) for 2019.

After the August 2017 Needs Assessment, we developed a number of goals:

  1. To continue to build trust with people in St. Vincent while working toward providing training programs. This will take time and patience. It will also need a "presence."
  2. Many children in SVG (especially those living in orphanages) will benefit from a relationship with caring adults. Resiliency can be nurtured through a relationship with a caring adult who can share a sense of hope.
  3. Provide one-on-one care for the boy in St. Benedict's Home.

We will train local community members to help children in the Homes using 3 "layers" of programming. Each child will be matched to adult mentor(s) based on their needs. After the pilot project, we will expand mentoring to all children in need. We will provide training for adults to serve as volunteers or paid a stipend (more on that reasoning later). Training layers will be:

  • Kinship Partners training – to foster long-lasting relationships between caring adults and children and teens.
  • Stephen Ministry training – to provide high-quality, confidential, Christ-centered care to children and teens who are hurting. (Later, this might expand to serve adults as well.)
  • Mental Health training and Spiritual Direction – to provide guidance to overcome trauma and abuse, and to find connection to God acting in our lives.

Christian theology supports the notion that we are "called" to certain action and led by the Spirit of God. Whatever your faith tradition, there is some similar notion of "God's will for my life." Discernment is the process of listening for that call. If a priest, pastor, or other church minister speaks of their calling, people accept this with a smile of respect. If a layperson speaks like this, we get a silent pause and then a smile of a different kind. This smile might be interpreted as "OoohKaaay. He's delusional." I've gotten that second smile enough times that I have just learned to keep quiet. Until now.

This is the story of how I see the Spirit working in the lives of people open to the gentle whisper of the Spirit.

Helping Children of St. Vincent and the Grenadines - First Visit Note: Church-state relationships in many parts of Central America and the Caribbean are tentative. I have been asked not to distribute this via the internet or social media lest it be read as critical of the people and government of St. Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG). If you wish to share this, please share only with individuals. If you need the password, please contact us using the secure contact form at the top of the page.

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The St. Vincent Initiative is our collaboration with local church sponsored orphanages and programs for children in SVG. In August 2017, we conducted the first Situational Needs Assessment and Feasibility Study to see how we might be of assistance in training local workers.

On a Caribbean vacation, you see smiles and sunshine -- but that's not the reality of many who live in St. Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG). 48% live on only USD 2.72 per day. Families and children suffer. Many children are abandoned or abused and live in orphanages.

Many Thanks SVI

 

Thank you, donors and volunteers, for helping with the initial phase of The St. Vincent Initiative: Training Orphanage Workers in St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

Rachel Kristyniak

Susan Chandler

Mike & Carol Smith

Steve & Katrina McCarthy