Truth Trumps Kids’ Insecurity

Insecurity – 1. uncertainty or anxiety about oneself; lack of confidence. 2. the state of being open to danger or threat; lack of protection. (Oxford Online Dictionary)

Dream Centers and ScholarshipsInsecurity feels like a dirty word and yet it is something I’m certain we have all faced. It’s far too common in our world today to feel less than. To feel unsteady. Unsure. Unsafe. We live in a world obsessed with becoming “our best selves” only so we can be on the same level as our social media peers.

Insecurity is inclusive. It’s open to anyone and everyone about anything and everything. Insecurity lingers. It arrives in our lives too early and stays far too long. Without realizing it, we can battle the same insecurities for decades. Insecurity is persistent. It knocks on the door until you open it and becomes that obnoxious voice you can’t seem to escape.

On any given day at the Fish Hoek Dream Center, I may have up to seven children scattered around my small classroom, all with different abilities working on different homework at different levels. I love the chaos of a crowded table. It equally energizes me and drains me. These aren’t just children working on math or vocabulary words; these children are the future.

One particularly busy afternoon, I was listening to one student read a story to me while I was helping another with her math homework. Both students are in the same grade yet accomplish work at very different levels. After my story reader had finished, my little math friend let out a big sigh and said, “I’ll never read like that.” The defeat in her voice echoed in my ears.

My heart squeezed as I saw the first glimpse of Insecurity in her. Only seven years old, this child was latest victim of Insecurity. In an instant I saw this child grow months and years in my mind, with this label of “I’ll never … like that” following her for the rest of her life, influencing every decision, holding her back from fully blooming.

I lifted her chin in my hand and looked deeply into her beautiful, brown eyes. I spoke truth over her. She is smart. She is able. She is loved. She can do hard things. A small smile appeared on her face. I know the voice of Insecurity is loud, but I pray the voice of Truth was louder in that moment.

In my own life, I have heard and heeded the very same lie as my student. Comparison has been an active thief in my life, leaving me feeling debilitated and defective. My words of affirmation to this child were just as much for her heart as they were a reminder to my own. A few months ago, this lie was getting so loud I deleted all my social media. I needed to step back and take inventory of what in my mind was Truth from God and what was not.

A week or so later, this same student arrived at the Dream Center heartbroken about doing poorly on a test at school. Once again, the voice of Insecurity spoke lies to her. I was in the kitchen making lunches as my colleague pulled her into the office, drew her in close, and spoke to her, reminding her that it’s okay to fail and she will always be loved. Together they made a list of all the people who cared about her regardless of what her grade was. God. Mom. Dad. Brother. Sister. Aunty Amy. Uncle Ron. Aunty Mary. With each name, the tears flowed more slowly, and her voice became steadier.

“It’s okay to fail; you will always be loved.” Oh, how quickly my soul forgets that. How quickly I am to open the door for insecurity over and over again. How quickly I forget my identity is not in myself, my abilities, or what other people think of me. My identity is in Christ. And it is secure. He’s not concerned with my failures or my shortcomings, though they are many. None of them compares to the new identity bestowed upon me by the grace of Jesus’ redemption.

The Truth we find in Christ silences anything Insecurity tells us. We must train children while they are young how to recognize and combat the lies of Insecurity and cling to the Truth of who God has created them to be. At 24 years old, I still struggle with some of the same insecurities I did at 16 and at eight years old. But one thing I have learned: Truth wins. I will never stop arming my students with Truth. It’s the only way to win this battle.

This post first appeared in Where My Heart Goes, a blog published by Mary Veltman, an ER staff member who serves at the Fish Hoek Dream Center in South Africa. We encourage you to follow her journey.


Major Expansion Coming for Dream Centers in 2022

Quito Dream Center ScholarshipsThis year will be a game-changer for dozens of vulnerable kids attending our Dream Centers. You will want to be a part of our plans.

Currently, ER fully operates Dream Centers in Quito, Ecuador and Fish Hoek, South Africa. We also partner with Jabulani Africa Ministries on a third Dream Center in Limpopo, South Africa.

In these locations, we provide education reinforcement, school supplies, hot meals and life skills training in a safe, loving environment. We operate these centers in developing countries because, sadly, children often drop out of school as their families cannot afford basic as school supplies, uniforms or food. We’ve learned that providing these items, along with daily encouragement, keeps kids in school. This is what our Dream Centers are all about.

Dream Center ScholarshipsIn Quito, more than 40 students attend the Dream Center Monday through Thursday. They receive nutritious meals, homework help, specialized tutoring and mentoring. Many of the kids belong to the Quito recycling community, people who sort items from the trash to make a meager living.

In Fish Hoek, more than 40 kids arrive daily after school for education reinforcement, a hot meal and some holistic learning. Many of the kids participate in club activities like photography, swimming and a running. One of the largest expenses is the cost of transportation. We shuttle all of our kids from their schools to the Dream Center.

Scholarships Make Dream Centers Possible

Everything that takes place in our Dream Centers is possible through the generosity of donors, especially those who provide monthly scholarships. These centers are GROWING and have waiting lists.

Dream Center ScholarshipsA scholarship of just $35 a month provides for a child and helps cover the cost for operating the Dream Centers. If you are currently a scholarship donor, thank you! We could not run them without your help. If you are not a donor, now is a great time to join us. Follow this link to learn more: Scholarships – Extreme Response International.

For details on ER Scholarships, contact Rachel Icenogle, ER’s Coordinator of Scholarship Programs, or scroll below.


Quito Dream Center Reaches 26 Scholarships

ER scholarships are launchpads to opportunity!

ER ScholarshipsWe are thrilled to share that 26 (as of Oct. 21, 2021) new scholarships have been provided by donors for the kids in the Quito Dream Center. What a blessing! These scholarship will allow these kids, most of whom are part of the Quito Dump Recycling community, to continue in their studies and get the help them need to keep up with their peers.

ER’s scholarships make a HUGE difference in a child’s life. The kids who benefit come from homes that produce very little income from recycling products from the trash. At any point, their families may not be able to afford to keep them in school. Traditionally, the children attend school but then drop out and join their families recycling from the garbage.

That’s where scholarship come in. These funds provide access to hot, nutritious meals, computers and Internet, certified teachers, and loving administrators all in a safe, clean, faith-friendly environment that meets COVID-19 requirements.

ER’s Robyn Wallace shares her excitement for what is taking place through Dream Center Scholarships:

“A scholarship can lay the foundation which will be the launchpad of potential in our Dream Center students. Potential to heal emotionally and physically. Potential to follow their own passions and find promising careers. Potential to pursue education well beyond their parents.  Potential to break the bonds of generational poverty in their community. Potential to be a living testimony of what God can do in a willing soul with the proper support in their lives. Let’s lay the groundwork!”

We have a need for many more scholarships for the Quito Dream Center kids. Would you consider providing a scholarship for a child for $35/month? In doing so, you’ll get regular updates on the progress of the child and help them reach their dreams of staying in school, graduating and living a sustainable and fulfilling life.

For details on ER Scholarships, contact Rachel Icenogle, ER’s Coordinator of Scholarship Programs, or click here.


Maybe you’ve thought about helping lift a child out of poverty, but haven’t found the right approach. We’ve got an inspiring solution – ER scholarships.

During our 20+ years of ministry to vulnerable kids we’ve learned that staying in school and getting a good education is the key to escaping generational poverty. With education, these kids will have opportunities their parents never had.

scholarshipsThat’s why we’ve launched ER Scholarships, where donors can invest in the futures of kids as part of a team approach. Your donation will be used to help educate kids who attend our Dream Centers. These children typically come from struggling backgrounds like the dump recycling community, refugee/squatter settlements, street life, or single guardian homes. Without intervention, their futures would be bleak.

Coming off six months of COVID craziness, we’re reaching out to get more kids covered by scholarships for the rest of 2020 and 2021. Here are two current challenges we are helping the kids navigate:

*Dream Center registration for the new school year is happening in Quito. Even though the school year is starting virtually, our 40 Quito Dream Center kids will receive education reinforcement through online sessions with our dream center staff.

*Kids in Fish Hoek, South Africa go to the Dream Centre daily to experience a range of education opportunities. We recently purchased new laptops and our kids are able to participate in a variety of online education courses. They are learning things like typing, Microsoft Word and how to safely use the Internet. When school resumes, the kids will be able to do remote learning and get tutoring.

Would you consider joining our Scholarships team so more kids can participate? For just $35/month, you will help enable a child to attend our programs, eat nutritious meals, receive custom tutoring/mentoring, and enjoy loving encouragement from ER staff and volunteers. You’ll receive updates, get access to private Facebook pages highlighting the kids’ progress, and have the opportunity to personally visit our programs.

For details on ER Scholarships, contact Rachel Icenogle, ER’s Coordinator of Scholarship Programs, or click here.


Down, But Not Out, Sikani Aces Math Test

Many of the children who attend ER’s Fish Hoek Dream Center have stories that can break — and warm — your heart. Sikani* is one of those kids. In his case, one math test helped turn his life around.

scholarshipsSikani lives in Masiphumelele, a large settlement near Cape Town, South Africa. He attends a government school in a local township where each teacher has 45-50 students per class. Sikani and his family fled to South Africa from Malawi. His mom is a domestic worker and is also raising a grandson. His father and sister both died from unconfirmed illnesses.

Dealing with language, culture and family issues at such a young age can wreck a child. In Sakini’s case, it almost did.

In 2019, Sikani found himself in a third-grade classroom that was very stressful and he struggled greatly. Despite encouragement at the Dream Center, Sikani basically “gave up” mid way through the year. He was discouraged and said his teacher wouldn’t help him understand what was being taught. He didn’t pass the class.

Sikani is usually quick to smile and give a hug, but his smile wasn’t as quick anymore. At the start of 2020, he knew he would be repeating grade 3, but the realization was very difficult. He was teased and bullied by his classmates. One afternoon after school, he was bullied and hit by a high school boy.

Scholarships Provide Breakthrough

scholarshipsSikani soaks in the love he gets each day from Dream Center staff and volunteers. The one-on-one help he receives at our “Littles” (younger kids) campus helped him overcome a big hurdle – multiplication tables. In the first quarter of 2020, he aced his multiplication test by correctly answering 50 out of 50 questions! His hard work paid off. He was very proud of his accomplishment.

Passing the multiplication quiz has boosted his confidence and brought his smile back. We’re proud of his perseverance under such difficult circumstances. He’s a great example of why we never give up on a vulnerable child.

Would you consider providing a scholarship for a kid like Sikani? By investing just $35/month, you will make a huge difference in the life of a Dream Center child. For details on ER Scholarships, contact Rachel Icenogle, ER’s Coordinator of Scholarship Programs, or click here.

*Name changed for privacy

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