Kids Alive and My Story

My History and Work with Kids Alive International

How did you get there?
My story with Kids Alive begins with a trip to Lebanon in 2006, which was my third trip to this amazing country. The group I was with took a day to visit Dar el Awlad (The Boys Home) and see what we could do to help out on-site and spend some time with the children. I had been working in a group home in the States since 2004 so I was quite interested to see what was similar and what was different. Since 2005 I had been looking at options that would allow me to live and work in Lebanon, perhaps I thought, this was an opportunity I needed to explore.

The visit with the children went well and I was impressed with the level of care that they received. The program wasn’t that much different than the one I worked it, the biggest difference was that I worked for local government and Dar el Awlad is faith-based, yet the services offered and care were similar. When I completed the trip and returned home I soon got around to filling out an application with Kids Alive, but the timing wasn’t right and I didn’t feel at peace about it. Another year passed and another trip to Lebanon was in order. Our visit to Dar el Awlad in 2007 was at the beginning of the two weeks of work and energized everyone on the team. When I entered Dar el Awlad I had a strong feeling that this was where I was supposed to be. Upon returning to Virginia I began the application process once more.

During Christmas 2007 I flew to Beirut to spend holiday with friends and to scope out Lebanon in Winter. My formal interview with Kids Alive was in March 2008 and I was accepted in April 2008. Almost exactly a year later, a year full of fundraising, I flew to Lebanon and started my term at Dar el Awlad on April 17, 2009.

What exactly do you do?
I am technically a missionary working for Kids Alive International and serving as a volunteer in Lebanon. All my support and funds come from America. On the ground (and professionally) I am a counselor, or social worker if you prefer that term instead. My role is in a state of constant development but I am responsible for meeting individually with 30 residents and some of the nearly 70 day students that attend our school. I spend one night a week in each unit for an hour to play games and conduct process activities with the children. I’ve developed a database and note-taking system to help me track resident progress and needs. Many of our children come from some of the poorest areas of Lebanon and a significant number have experienced violence and trauma of some sort (beyond the wars and conflict that Lebanon seems to be touched by far too often). For the first two months I spent the majority of my time observing and getting to know the children.

Play and art therapy have become tools that I use almost on a daily basis. I’ve introduced the children to rock climbing and been able to gain access to the climbing wall at Putt Putt to work on this skill with the children. Process groups and team building exercises are often done during the evening unit time (along with card games and activities that requite concentration and mental stimulation). This summer I started to organize a counseling room that has games, toys, and a sand tray. Depending on the child, weather, and activity planned I also use two other rooms on campus.

What are your needs and how can I help?
Above all things prayer is needed. The work can be challenging the immersion into another culture and language can be daunting at times. There is a history of so much loss, anger, poverty, instability, and fatalism that I feel I could be here a lifetime and not make much of a dent. What keeps my going is that while I cannot be personally involved with every child in Lebanon I can impact and help bring healing to those I do encounter.

Financial support is always welcome. My position at Kids Alive is funded by people like you, churches, and organizations that want to help children. Before leaving for Lebanon I was fully funded for a two year commitment, but as of April 15th, 2010 my status has changed...I am now a long-term missionary, with my term being extended until at least 2013. My budget is ok until April 2011, but I am in the process of sorting out new numbers to meet the needs of long term work with the children. I hope to purchase a vehicle at the end of the summer, which is one major budget addition. The money for a vehicle is already in my hands, but the finances required to maintain a car (gas, repairs, insurance, etc) are not accounted for in my current budget. Special projects, needs, and resources require money too. I’ve been blessed recently by having almost 100% of the climbing gear I required purchased through generous donations. As I expand the counseling and guidance program here I would like to develop a proper office/counseling room. It is also a dream of mine to build a climbing wall on campus (just a dream for the time being!) and have some sort of experiential learning/ropes course curriculum. If you want to offer direct financial support click on my name on the Kids Alive - Lebanon page or click here and drop me a note, along with any specific questions you may have.

How can I stay in touch?
I have developed many ways to make it as easy as possible to connect with me and follow the work I am involved it. My blog, From Bumpass to Beirut, is update several times a month with prayer requests, musings on life here in Lebanon, and how things are going with me in general. I also have You Tube, Picasa, and Twitter accounts set up that make it simple to see what I see on a daily basis. At least once every 2 months or so I prepare a newsletter that is sent out to supporters. Archives of those newsletters can be found here [not active yet]. If you want to be placed on my email list click here and let me know.

The work I am involved with would be impossible without the support, prayers, and finances of people that see the value of raising up strong and healthy children. Thank you for your time and interest and I hope that your visit to my site was helpful.