Behind the Scenes: The Backpack Program

Keeping children in school and feeding families are the main goals ER International has worked to accomplish with their backpack program in Honduras for the past four years.

The program is simple. In communities where poverty and other challenges often result in parents taking their kids out of school, or sending them there hungry, children are given a backpack filled with enough food to feed their entire family for the week, on the condition that they stay in school. In this way, families are encouraged to keep their kids enrolled in their education and children are empowered because they are helping to provide for their families. The backpacks are made possible by generous sponsors who donate just $22 each month to support a child.

But what goes on behind the scenes of filling all these backpacks with food? Just how much impact does this program have on the lives of the children and schools it serves? This month we took a deeper look into the day to day operations of running ER International to find out the answers to these questions and to learn more about the lives sponsors are helping each week by funding the backpacks.

A Day in the Life

On backpack day, ER International co-founder Robyn Breaux heads to a local grocery store in Honduras. Some days she purchases foods that are the main staples in the country like rice, beans, and tortillas. Other days she gets items like pasta, tomato sauce, and canned vegetables. “I like to mix it up and not get the same thing every week,” she explains.

After gathering supplies at the store, she goes to the schools to fill and hand out backpacks. Each child in the program has their own backpack with their name on it. She says she luckily has quite a few joyful helpers who assist her each week at the school, “The kids love to help with unloading the car, carrying the food into the school, bagging the food, and whatever else they can do. They have taken real ownership of the program.”  The children are also learning important life skills by being responsible for bringing their backpacks every week and helping to fill them in an orderly manner. One of the best parts for Robyn of working closely with the children each week is the chance it gives her to spend time with them and let them know they are loved.  Once the backpacks are filled, they are given to the children to take home.

More than Food

The backpack program’s influence reaches further than filling empty tummies.  The children are also encouraged by the fact that they have a sponsor who cares about them and provides them with food each week.  Far from being distant strangers, sponsors can take an even more active role in their child’s life by sending cards, letters, and little birthday or Christmas gifts.

The children love the interaction with their sponsors. Some have even traveled to Honduras to meet their sponsored child. “It’s really touching when the sponsor gets to meet the child and pretty emotional,” Robyn says.

It’s the Little Things

Having a backpack of food for the week means many things.

It means getting three meals a day instead of just one or two. During seasons when money is tight for families, many do not have enough to cover three meals a day and lunch is usually skipped. Therefore, parents are not able to send a lunch with their children to school.  But with the backpack program, kids are able to sit down during their midday break from lessons and pull out sack lunches of rice and beans, juice, raisins, and fresh bread.

It means a better school day. Imagine trying to solve math problems or focus on a reading lesson on an empty stomach. Schools can serve their students better when they are getting the proper nutrition they need. It makes all the difference in their ability to have a good day at school.
It means less worry. Students know they won’t be going hungry, and that frees them to concentrate on their studies. In addition, parents have a burden taken off their shoulders and are grateful for the extra help.

Sponsor Today

ER International partners with two schools to find families in need of their backpack program and they are always looking to expand. Currently, they provide backpacks for a total of 98 children. That is 98 children that get to both keep learning and also help take care of their families. There are 16 other students like these waiting for sponsorship right now and the opportunity to do the same.  If you or someone you know would like to sponsor one of these children, the process is so easy. Simply click the 'SPONSOR TODAY!' button below.

 

Stay tuned for our newsletter coming out next month to learn more about the ER International Backpack Program. 

Yoider's Story

You can see the city of Cartagena, Colombia from their front doors.   Tierra Bomba is a small, beautiful island in the Cartagena Bay on the northern coast of Colombia.  But, Tierra Bomba is almost like a forgotten island even though it is only a 10 minute boat ride from Cartagena, one of Colombia’s hottest tourist destinations. 

You can see the city of Cartagena from their front doors

You can see the city of Cartagena from their front doors

On the island, there are around 4,000 people who live there, virtually surviving from tourism and fishing alone.   The beaches have stunning white sands and crystal clear, blue waters.  Just a few steps from these beautiful beaches the people of this island have no running water and very little electricity.

The people of this island have no running water and very little electricity

Yoider was born on this forgotten island of Tierra Bomba to a father who is a fisherman and a mother who works diligently in anyway she can.

Yoider his happy when he has the opportunity to play baseball, loving the feel of a leather baseball glove in his hand and the swing of a baseball bat.

When he is not studying for his classes at school, he is often playing guitar in his local church, which is another of Yoider’s favorite things to do.

Yoider was born on the island of Tierra Bomba

Yoider was born on the island of Tierra Bomba

With great effort, Yoider and his brother take a boat everyday across the bay to Cartagena and then board a bus that will get them to school. It’s not easy to get an education living on the island of Tierra Bomba, but Yoider and his brother are determined to make a better life for themselves.

Recently, ER International was able to provide Yoider with necessary resources, such as a laptop, to succeed in getting his education.

Yoider is so grateful for all the support you provide!

Yoider is so grateful for all the support you provide!

He is so grateful for the help and support you have given him.  We are proud of him for sticking with it through challenges and hardships.

Your support gives young people like Yoider the necessary resources such as food, clean drinking water, access to education and hope of a better future. You are making a difference for Yoider and other young people just like him.

Thank YOU for partnering with us

in changing lives!

What's In Your Closet?

    As I was cleaning and organizing the shoes in my closet I realized that I have many different styles and colors

    As I was cleaning and organizing the shoes in my closet I realized that I have many different styles and colors

I’m not exactly one of those girls whose closet is always organized, neat and tidy.  Actually, I’m more of a “throw it in the pile and shut the door” kind of girl (don’t judge me.)  I have friends who are insanely organized and I do admire them!  Their shoes are organized by heel height, season and color.  So, I was feeling pretty proud of myself for how organized my closet was after working on it all day.  As I was cleaning and organizing the shoes in my closet I realized that I have many different styles and colors.  There are fuchsia colored ones, red ones, brown ones, peep toes, sling backs, flats, stilettos and boots.

With this picture of my closet on my phone and my heart full of pride over my now organized and tidy closet, I went to my computer to scroll through some pictures of our missionary and founder at ER International. 

                                   Our founder and missionary, Robyn Breaux, assisting the mother of ten children

                                   Our founder and missionary, Robyn Breaux, assisting the mother of ten children

Looking through the pictures, one stood out to me more than all the others.  The family’s story that went along with the picture gripped my heart and brought tears to my eyes!  This Honduran mother of 10, whose husband had recently died, walked 5 miles to hear a message of hope from the Bible and receive a hot meal for her and her children.  She had ten children, seriously, what a woman!  The understanding that she had 10 children and the fact that she probably had them at home, in a village, made me feel weak.  Trust me, I've had four children and felt like a champ for delivering them!  Her children’s feet were filthy and blistered because none of them had shoes!  There’s nothing in her closet or the closets of her 10 children to organize or keep tidy.  Come to think of it, she probably doesn’t even have a closet.

Our founder and missionary, Robyn Breaux, tracing the feet of the children so ER International could buy them shoes

Our founder and missionary, Robyn Breaux, tracing the feet of the children so ER International could buy them shoes

Americans purchase, on average, 7.5 pairs of shoes each year.  That's just over one pair of shoes for each day of one week.  I'm certain that Hondurans can't purchase 7.5 pairs of shoes each year because Honduras is the third poorest country in Latin America and the Caribbean. It is also one of the most vulnerable countries in the world to natural disasters.  Hurricanes and long seasons of pouring rain can ruin their crops.

One-third of the people in Honduras live on less than one dollar a day.    
$1.00 per day!  This is hard for me to comprehend.  How do they survive?  What do they do to help themselves?

We love to put smiles on their faces

We love to put smiles on their faces

So, I asked myself, “What can I do?”  I can’t help it that I was born in the United States and that my closet is full of shoes and purses, usually in piles! 
I don’t have the financial resources to change the plight of all the poor families in Honduras.  But can’t I make a difference for this one family?  Or another family just like them? Absolutely I can!

My broken heart and the tears that are still flowing down my face won’t allow me to turn away and ignore them.  I will never again be able to walk into my closet without thinking about this poor mother and her 10 shoe-less children. 

Feeling compelled to reach the children of Honduras, we at ER International sense an urgency that we must do what we can to alleviate their suffering.  We simply cannot stand by and do nothing! 
 

I invite you to join me in giving to help the poorest among us. 

 

Go to http://www.erinternational.org/

to make a difference today

or Click on the Give button below

THE POWER OF HOPE

Hope, it springs forth from the heart and not the brain.  Hope is the belief that circumstances will get better.  It’s more than wishing for things to get better; it’s believing with all of your heart that your circumstances will get better.  Restoring hope or giving hope to someone who has never had it can be a fulfilling experience. 

 

HOPE springs forth from the heart

HOPE springs forth from the heart

It can seem hopeless in a country where the majority of the people are employed, yet most of them live well below the poverty line and make less than $1.00 per day.  Honduras has the highest crime rate in the world; this affects mostly children and teenagers.  With Honduras being the third poorest nation in Central America, you don’t have to go far to find hungry children.  It can seem hopeless.

Honduran child

Honduran child

But you could change all of that, you could give hope to the children we serve by becoming a sponsor.  Because of our sponsors we are able to give a family food each week that they otherwise would not have.  Each week our missionaries purchase staples such as rice, beans and corn meal that are put into backpacks that are taken home by children who are enrolled in school.  This is significant because many Honduran children drop out of school by age 11 to help the family with income.  Your sponsorship of a child not only gives food to a hungry child and their family, it keeps them in school and out of potentially harmful situations such as trafficking and prostitution.

Some of the children who receive food through our Back Pack Program

Some of the children who receive food through our Back Pack Program

When you sponsor a child in Honduras through ER International, you are giving hope to a child that her circumstances may get better.  Giving hope is one of the most rewarding experiences you can have.  Give HOPE today and you could change a child’s life. 

Our missionary, Robyn, with one of the children who receives a back pack of food each week

Our missionary, Robyn, with one of the children who receives a back pack of food each week

To sponsor a child click on the link below.  You could change a child's life today and give them hope!

You could change a child's life today!

How Can I NOT Feed These Hungry Children?

He called me yesterday to talk through our new Sponsorship Welcome Packets I was putting together.     

We talked for a long time about our partners and donors and our relationship with the people who make all our work overseas possible.    Zambrano, Honduras took up quite a bit of our conversation and what it was like to minister and work with the beautiful people in Zambrano.

Our Founder and missionary, Robyn, helping the beautiful people in Zambrano, Honduras

Our Founder and missionary, Robyn, helping the beautiful people in Zambrano, Honduras

When we began discussing Tierra Bomba, Colombia, it was during that part of our conversation that I really got a sense for his heart.  He talked about the overwhelming number of impoverished and starving children who live in the island community of Tierra Bomba.  Our talk was about a church in Cartagena that wanted to partner with us to reach the people of Tierra Bomba with the message of hope in Jesus Christ.

Our Founder and President, Ernie, with the people of Tierra Bomba

Our Founder and President, Ernie, with the people of Tierra Bomba

Then he said something that caught my attention…he said, “there are so many hungry children on the island of Tierra Bomba.  How can I limit the food that we distribute to only 25 or 50 children?  How can I NOT feed these hungry children?”

Our Founder and President, Ernie, giving away Skittles to the children in Zambrano, Honduras

Our Founder and President, Ernie, giving away Skittles to the children in Zambrano, Honduras

If he physically and financially could, I think he would feed absolutely every child on the island of Tierra Bomba and every child in Honduras! 

Our Founder and President, Ernie, has such a heart of compassion for these children and that is what I absolutely respect and love!   He and his wife, Robyn, are fully committed to the work of feeding hungry children in other parts of the world.  They lead by example by giving of their personal resources all the time to make sure that these children have the food they need.  Every single penny that comes into ER International goes directly to helping these children both in Honduras and in Colombia. 

To echo our Founder's words I have to ask myself and you, "How can I NOT feed these hungry children?"

I invite you to join me in support of the work of ER International.  You can join us by giving a one time gift or by sponsoring a needy child for $22 per month.

Click on the "Give" link below and follow the prompts.

We are so grateful for all of our partners.  Together we are making a difference in other parts of the world, one life at a time.

"I CAN'T" DIDN'T STAY FOR LONG

It's completely honest and safe to say that when Dora began attending Samuel Raymond Christian School she was often very upset and didn't want to be there.  Through a veil of tears she would cry, "I can't do this!"  Dora had trouble believing in herself much less believing that she could get a good education. 

Dora sitting at her desk at school

Dora sitting at her desk at school

Recently, Dora completed all of her school work ahead of the other children.  She no longer cried and said, "I can't!"  Now she says, "I can" and believes in herself.  This was a huge turnaround for Dora and we were so proud of her.  We believe that a Christ-centered education, large amounts of encouragement and good nutrition made the difference. 

Each week, we at ER International provide food for Dora and her family through our Back Pack Program.  This allows Dora to focus on her education and not the hunger in her belly. 

Food items that go into the back packs

Food items that go into the back packs

They say that we should lead by example, so I have sponsored a child at ER International.  Won't you join me in sponsoring one of the children in our Back Pack Program?  It's really simple.  $22 per month provides food for these precious children. 

Just click on the "Sponsor Now" link below and follow the prompts:

We would appreciate your generous support so much!  But more than that, Dora and her family appreciate it.

 

 

TODAY WAS BACK PACK DAY IN HONDURAS!

It was 88 degrees outside today but it felt like 91 degrees.  The trade winds from the Caribbean were calm and everything felt sticky.   Sweat seemed to be pouring out of every part of her body as she encouraged the children to keep sorting the bags of rice, corn flour and chicken consume (the grocery store didn’t have enough beans for all the families).

Our founder and missionary, Robyn, buying groceries to fill the back packs

Our founder and missionary, Robyn, buying groceries to fill the back packs

It always brings a smile to Robyn’s face and joy to her heart when she makes the turn and drives up the steep hill to Samuel Raymond Christian School.   Ms. Deborah, the other missionary who runs the school, is such a strong, kind hearted person and the children who attend her school are always such a delight to see.   

The steep road up to the school where the back packs were distributed

The steep road up to the school where the back packs were distributed

The school where the ER International back packs are distributed

The school where the ER International back packs are distributed

Robyn and Ms. Deborah

Robyn and Ms. Deborah

Today is Thursday and Thursdays are usually “ER International Back Pack Day” at the school.  The children who attend the school willingly help haul the groceries out of the vehicle, count and sort the bags of food and fill the back packs. Later, they were able to take the back packs home with the much needed food they just sorted. 

The food items that were placed in the back packs

The food items that were placed in the back packs

ER International purchases rice, beans, corn flour and other staples each week to feed the families of the children at Ms. Deborah’s school. 

Honduras is the third poorest country in Latin America and the Caribbean. One-third of the people in Honduras live on less than one dollar a day. With one in every four children suffering from malnutrition, you don't have to look far in Honduras to find a child in desperate need of food.  The average Honduran child drops out of school by age 11 to help support the family income.

Some of the children who received back packs today

Some of the children who received back packs today

Our founder and missionary, Robyn, feels determined to make a difference in the lives of these children and is fully committed to the work in Honduras.  That’s why she partners with Ms. Deborah at the local Christian school on the Island of Roatan.  It is so important that we at ER International provide food for these children and their families, it keeps them in school and potentially impacts their future for the good.

When you partner with ER International to provide this Back Pack Program, you are keeping a young, under-nourished child fed and in school and out of potentially dangerous, harmful or possible trafficking situations.   

Won’t you join me today and make a tax deductible contribution? 

I’m committed and our founders, Ernie and Robyn are committed. 

Click on the Give button at www.erinternational.org.    

 

FORGOTTEN BY MANY OTHERS, BUT NOT BY US!

You can see the city of Cartagena from their front doors.   Tierra Bomba is a small, beautiful island in the Cartagena Bay on the northern coast of Colombia.  But, Tierra Bomba is almost like a forgotten island even though it is only a 10 minute boat ride from Cartagena, one of Colombia’s hottest tourist destinations. 

You can see the city of Cartagena from their front doors.

You can see the city of Cartagena from their front doors.

The people of Tierra Bomba are descendants of enslaved Africans who claimed this island as their home.  Fishing and tourism provides some income for their families, but most are poor beyond our imaginations!  Due to a lack of opportunities for work and education many of the young people of Tierra Bomba are led into prostitution in the city of Cartagena to earn their living.

Fishing and tourism provides some income for their families, but most are poor beyond our imaginations!

Fishing and tourism provides some income for their families, but most are poor beyond our imaginations!

We at ER International are building a relationship with a local church in Cartagena, Colombia so that we can make a difference in the lives of the people of this forgotten island.  On Sunday, May 29, 2016, a group from the church went to Tierra Bomba to do an outreach in this very poor island community.   They brought sacks filled with food items provided by ER International that were given away to about 50 children.

The ministry team from Cartagena

The ministry team from Cartagena

Team members from the church dressed as clowns and shared the message of hope in Jesus Christ with all the children and adults who were there. The people loved it and their response to the message of Jesus Christ was incredible! 

Joy and happiness could be seen on their faces and expressions of gratitude were displayed for the much needed food items they received that day.  

We at ER International provided sacks of food for the ministry outreach on the island of Tierra Bomba.

We at ER International provided sacks of food for the ministry outreach on the island of Tierra Bomba.

We love having the opportunity to change lives in other parts of the world and make a difference in the lives of children.  These precious people are not forgotten by those of us at ER International.  We feel compelled to do something, to make a difference.  How about you?  Will you join us in making a difference on the forgotten island of Tierra Bomba?  Together we can make a difference, we will not forget them!

      Making a difference and putting smiles on their faces!

      Making a difference and putting smiles on their faces!

 

 

 

2016 Back Pack feeding program

The 2016 school year has begun at SRCS, and Casa de Luz, and we are getting ready.  We need to order the new back packs, and are getting excited about this school year. Their are 47 children enrolled at SRCS and 43 at Casa de Luz, and we are looking forward to this opportunity to provide these children and their families with food to fill their back packs each week!  We also would like to provide a meal at least once a month.   
The cost for the back packs, to have the kids names put on them is around $400.
 
The cost is $260.00 a child, per year, which is $5.00, per back pack, per child, each week, for 52 weeks. That consists of non-perishable food items such as, rice, beans, flour, cornmeal, cooking oil, and other things, sometimes, pasta, with tomato sauce, boxes of mac n cheese, oatmeal, among other things. We also try to add items such at tooth paste, deodorant, and soap as well.  We try to mix it up every week.
 
If you would like to help with this program, either by having the back packs made, or buying food for the back packs, please let us know, you can email me at robyn@erinternational.org, or you can just simply send a tax deductible donation to:
ER International
2273 SW 15th Street #153
Deerfield Beach, FL  33442
Attn: Back Pack feeding program
 
You can also send money via pay pal through our website, www.erinternational.org, you can help by sponsoring a specific child monthly, or you can just give any amount that you would like, for any of the back pack expenses needed.
 
Thank you for your support on this project, it is greatly appreciated!

Prince of Peace Children's Home Milk Donation

We are ready for more milk for our kiddos at POPCH, in Zambrano.  We have seen some positive and good things come from these kids drinking good, healthy, whole milk every day, and because of your donations its possible for them to have it.    

The cost of the milk is about $2000.00, for a 6 month supply.  I know some of you have donated in the past for this cause, and its greatly appreciated!  

If anyone would like to give for this purchase, to make a tax-deductible donation, you can send the money to:  ER International; 2273 SW 15th Street #153;  Deerfield Beach, FL  33442;  Att:  Milk for POPCH.   Or you can send via pay pal, by clicking on the GIVE button on the ER International website, www.erinternational.org, or on the ER International Face Book page.   

Thank you, your help is greatly appreciated,  

Robyn and Ernie Breaux