Blog

Coronavirus Update

All of us in the James Connection community have faced our own challenges due to the Coronavirus, and as you are supporters of Angels’ Place in India, your concern surely extends to the children that we have worked so hard to nurture there. The purpose here is to update you on how the James Connection is managing the current Coronavirus crisis as it impacts Angels’ Place and to identify our priorities.

1) The well-being of the children remains our first priority. The Indian government has closed all orphanages in the country. The children of Angels’ Place have returned to their legal guardians during the quarantine in India. The children regularly visit their guardians and their villages over the course of a normal year, and so this action is not a significant adjustment for the short term. However, they would not be at Angels’ Place if they had a stable long-term environment in these homes, and so we want to support their wellness as much as possible during this time. R. Sanga, our lead staff member in India, has regular contact with the children and is monitoring their situations. As the children come from a broad area, some from 50 miles or more from Angels’ Place, we are working to ensure effective contact with their families and their local communities.

2) We are ensuring the proper maintenance and staffing of Angels’ Place during quarantine. Jan Swensen, Executive Director of the James Connection, and R. Sanga are working together to ensure maintenance of the facility and staff of Angels’ Place. Some staff members live on site and will care for the facilities. We consider it essential to support all staff during this time in order to preserve continuity of personnel and expertise for managing Angels’ Place. We also must protect the health of all staff of Angels’ Place, in order that they remain strong in the current and future service of the children and the facility. Finally, we are maintaining continuity with our strategic partners in the area: the schools, the area medical facilities, other relief agencies, churches, and the entrepreneurs who help with our vocational education. 

3) We are planning for the future after quarantine. When the pandemic passes, Angels’ Place will need to be prepared to receive the children in a safe, healthy facility. We are formulating plans now, which include examining each child to make certain that they are well.

4) We will communicate with you throughout this time. Angels’ Place exists because of you, our entire network in the James Connection, and it is our responsibility to keep you well informed with facts and plans related to the current and future operation of Angels’ Place. We will be increasing communications during this time in order to affirm our accountability to you, and also to enlist the support of our larger community as we respond to the needs of the children at Angel’s Place and the staff who care for them.

5) We will need your continuing support during and after the pandemic. Your financial support has made it possible for us to build Angels’ Place and to nurture young children who already faced desperate circumstances before the Coronavirus emerged. Your ongoing support is needed now as much as ever. Please consider making a contribution that helps Angels’ Place and our children as they navigate the current pandemic.

We pray for the peace that passes understanding during a time of uncertainty, and for the lovingkindness of God to pass through us and into the world that so needs our generous action.

Please, do not hesitate to reach out to us with your questions and concerns.

Dreams Fulfilled!

Before coming to Angels' Place, these children you see pictured would never have dreamed of becoming a teacher, a social worker, or a bank officer.  They knew well, without an education and support, it could never happen, so they pushed their dreams aside.  But just last month, they completed a career survey, the first step on a path toward fulfilling those buried dreams.

One of the most important things we do at Angels' Place is help the children become successful and productive members of their community.  Of course, providing a good foundational education is a big part of achieving that objective.  But that is just the beginning of what we do.  There is much happening inside the walls of Angels' Place you may not even be aware of - far beyond the basics of math and science.  Career counseling is just one example.

First, the children from classes 8-12 completed the survey to assess their personal strengths and interests.  In addition to obvious questions about their favorite subjects in school and extra-curricular activites, there were also questions like:  "What challenge excites you?" and "What impact do you want to have in the world?".   There were also questions designed to help counselors identify potential psychological and emotional barriers to their success so they might better guide them through these obstacles.  Once the surveys were complete, each individual child had a one-on-one counseling session to discuss their responses and help them develop some career goals suited to their unique interests and personality.  As of this date, counseling sessions for all children in classes 8-9 have been completed and upper grades are currently in process.

We are so proud of the many children of Angels' Place who have gone on to successfully pursue their dreams, to become productive healthy members of their community  - and the world.  But there are so many more still waiting for someone like you to open the door of opportunity for them.  To learn more about what you can do, visit our Ways to Help page today.

Our New Vocational Director

This year Angels’ Place added a new staff member, Sangi Duhlian. Sangi’s primary responsibilities will be overseeing the new vocational program at Angels’ Place and providing academic counseling and mentorship to support the learning of the children there. She was contacted about the position in early 2019, and the opportunity to help the children held immediate appeal. She began her new position earlier this year, and we are delighted to report on the expansion of the staff and the program growth that comes with it.

Sangi comes to Angels’ Place with substantial credentials in education and work experience. She holds a bachelor’s and master’s degree in social work, and completed a second master’s degree (MPhil) in December 2018, right before coming to the orphanage. Her years of education and work include participation in multiple conferences, where she has explored issues of social services and health care in rural India.

Her position at Angels’ Place follows a family history of service to the community. Sangi says that she grew up in a family that always puts faith into action. Her grandparents and parents are “always accepting and helping the needy,” and she continues by saying “they always believe in the principle that when you serve the needy, you serve God.” In her childhood, her father would bring her to spend time with orphans and destitute children, and as she grew, the wish to serve continued. In college and then in her graduate studies, she has pursued study of social work in order to help those in need, especially women and children. “I started developing a strong determination for working for society and giving back to the community to weave change.”

It is wonderful to add Sangi’s sense of generosity and caring to the community of Angels’ Place. In our next article, we will talk more about the program where Sangi will be working.

Jan Returns from India

 

James Connection Executive Director Jan Swensen has returned from India, and he is very pleased with how things are progressing at Angels' Place. He reports that the children look healthy and well nourished, and they have a lot of energy for the many activities at Angels' Place. He also commented on the sense of community among the children, saying "It was wonderful to see how the older kids accept and care for the new children. There is a good family attitude among the kids."

The staff at Angels' Place continues to grow in positive ways, and Jan commented on the outstanding work done by the continuing staff and on the recruitment of committed and caring new staff. "I commend Englian and Siam on their fine work. Each year I see improvements in Angels' Place, which is good for the children," he observes, and then continues by saying that the staff in general "all appear well motivated and qualified." 

Jan met with the principals of the Hermon School and Rayburn College, in order to review the education being provided to the children of Angels’ Place and beyond. The children attend Hermon School from pre-school through class 10. If they qualify to continue their education, they go to Rayburn College High School for classes 11 and 12. Rayburn also provides a college education that many of the children have attended. Education for the children is a high priority for James Connection, and these visits monitor both current learning and future prospects. 

The trip also included a survey of the buildings and grounds, and a review of the children's activities while at Angels' Place.  The goals of these regular visits are to ensure the physical safety of the children, the progress of any construction, and a regular review of maintenance needs. Jan has prepared a maintenance task list and shared it with the staff of Angels’ Place. 

We will be sharing photographs from the visit over the coming weeks. Above you will see an image that attests to the success of Angels' Place made possible through your generosity: this year's graduating class. These are the children who have been shepherded through their childhood, nourished and sheltered at Angels' Place, and now ready to move on to their next steps as young adults. 

We thank you for your ongoing support to make possible this valuable work.  To learn more about ways to help the children in India, visit our Ways to Help page.