STORIES

‘When I Look at Them, I See Me’

Raymond Sumaya grew up in an extreme section of Makati City, part of Metro Manila. He refers to it as a slum, ‘where people struggle to find jobs, housing, food and education.”

These conditions did not defeat him. Instead, they filled Raymond with drive, passion and resolve to dream big and aim high. He just lacked direction.

That changed in 2008 when he was 18. A friend invited him to attend a worship service where he learned about Jesus. After surrendering his life to Christ, Raymond found inspiration during a missions trip to a mountain tribe where he worked with children. “I felt so privileged. That’s when God called me to minister to kids.”

Raymond dove into training, culminating in a teaching license in 2018. He now teaches at a Christian school in Makati.

Mobilizing Education So Kids Do Not Get Left Behind

Raymond did not wait for his license to start helping kids. In 2012, he met staff and board members from Extreme Response who challenged him to pursue his dream. In 2013, he realized pre-school age kids living in the slums were falling so far behind academically they would never catch up. That’s when he hit upon a brilliant idea.

“I thought, let’s bring education to the communities. I had no resources, so I trusted God to provide. We started a mobile education program.”

I Believe in Kids’ Educations (iBIKE) was launched with large tricycles. Volunteers would load whiteboards, school supplies and biscuits, and pedal to poor neighborhoods. Upon arrival, little kids poured out and were introduced to reading, writing, math, and faith.

Success Looks Like…Joel*

Ten years later iBIKE, now part of ER, is still rolling and impacting kids. The team has upgraded to motorized trikes, flat screen monitors, and interactive teaching. Today, they serve 50 kids from ages 3 to 12.

“We count success when we see children excelling in their education, strengthened in their faith and transformed from learners to leaders,” Raymond says.

Such impact is personified in kids like Joel * (*name changed), who grew up in the same slum as Raymond. Joel joined iBIKE in 2015 as a 4-year-old. “He was quiet and shy, but I could see he was full of dreams,” Raymond said.

“When he started his iBIKE journey, Joel didn’t know how to read, write, or count. After three years, we saw a huge change. His family was amazed at how well he did in school.”

Joel continues to value his education. He is now nine years old and a grade 3 student. He has received awards for academic excellence, outstanding behavior, and perfect attendance.

“When I look at kids like Joel, I see me,” Raymond said. “Education has transformed his life. Like me, he believes education will allow him to reach his dreams, by God’s grace.”

Imagine a child living in an unstable, impoverished environment with little access to education. Imagine a child with big dreams, but no path to reach them. Just like Joel, many kids live this reality. Yet, because of you, that’s not Joel’s story. Your generous support helps rewrite hundreds of children’s stories across the world!

We need your support to continue to provide these pathways for children and adults in South America, Africa, and Asia. Would you make a generous donation to the ER Fund? Your gift will help people like Joel escape poverty and achieve their dreams. Donate here.

You are our hero. Thank you for your prayers and support. Check out this video to see more about iBIKE.

Brad McKenna, President & CEO

What would you do if you weren’t afraid?

P.S. The United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization estimates global poverty could be cut by 55% if all children completed secondary education.

 

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Ryan’s Powerful Perseverance

Ryan* is 18 years old and beginning his ninth year at the Quito Dream Center. He is a senior in high school. Ryan comes from a family of believers, but he has faced significant hardship. As Ryan grew up, it was evident he struggled to socialize and learn.  Upon entering high school, Ryan was diagnosed with a 50% cognitive delay, which in Ecuador deems a person as disabled legally and worthless culturally. Because of his learning disability, Ryan has been a victim of discrimination and mistreatment by his teachers and peers at school throughout his education.

The Power of Relationships

Ryan and Daniel have developed a life-changing bond.

Ryan’s parents come from a community stricken with poverty and low levels of education, and they are unable to read or write. Consequently, they could not help Ryan with his education or assignments, and did not have the resources to confront the school or seek better treatment for their son.

Public schools in Ecuador largely do not have adequate programs, staff, or resources for educating or caring for individuals with disabilities. In fact, administrators encouraged Ryan and his family to discontinue his education. They did not feel he would benefit and implied it was a waste of everyone’s time and effort to keep him in school.

The Power of Relationships

This could have been an easy time to transition Ryan into recycling with his family, or to seek employment of some kind, rather than continue in school. However, Ryan’s Dream Center teacher, Daniel, knew he was capable of accomplishing great things.

Teacher Daniel has been a cheerleader, mentor, and support system for Ryan as he has  navigated these enormous obstacles. Daniel works with Ryan at the Dream Center to help him finish school assignments and to understand what he is being taught. Because of this support, Ryan has never missed a day of school and has never neglected his homework throughout high school. This mentorship and education reinforcement have provided Ryan with the tools needed to persevere.

The pandemic put Ryan to the test as he was given additional responsibilities that would have been considered above his abilities by administrators in Ecuador. Ryan became a caretaker of his younger brother, helping him with homework and working together to tackle chores and domestic tasks. Not only was Ryan able to manage his own assignments, but he was able to support his brother’s education as well. Ryan also helps his family by having their ID numbers memorized and completing family paperwork his parents are unable to do.

Dreaming Big Dreams

Dreaming isn’t a skill naturally wielded by many of the children within the communities we serve, who often are told they will never amount to much. However, Daniel and Ryan have spent a lot of time discussing dreams. Through these discussions and explorations of life while attending the Dream Center, Ryan has learned to dream of a bright future for himself.

With Daniel’s support, Ryan has discovered talents, skills, and passions that God has gifted him. Ryan has found he really likes soccer and enjoys drawing and painting as means of expressing himself.  He is on track to graduate high school this year, which is a major accomplishment for families in the Quito recycling community. Ryan also has plans to obtain his driver’s license and study a trade so he can support himself in the future!

Day in and day out, ER is committed to demonstrating Christ’s love and providing continual encouragement to the communities we serve. Daniel has said he admires Ryan’s determination to never give up. He is proud of the example Ryan sets for our Dream Center students and is hopeful they will follow his lead and dare to dream.

Want to help more young men like Ryan achieve their dreams? Starting Nov.1, ER is beginning our annual year-end appeal where we raise funds for next year. We need your help to rescue and restore vulnerable kids and their families. Please give generously here and choose “ER Fund – Greatest Ministry Impact” as your designation. The first $125,000 qualify for matching funds!

*Name changed for privacy.

Scroll below to read more stories of impact from the Quito Dream Center.

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The Upcycling of Sydney

Aug. 1, 2022

Have you ever discovered something forgotten and transformed – or “upcycled” – it into something magnificent? God is doing this with Sydney*.

Sydney has grown up in extreme circumstances as part of the Quito Recycling Community. Like many others in this under resourced community, poverty, alcoholism, abuse, and family strife are all part of her story.

Providentially, Extreme Response International has also been a constant in her life. Sydney started as a baby in our daycare, and she is now a 14-year-old student at our Quito Dream Center. As an adolescent, Sydney often allowed her frustrations to color her view of the world. She became disobedient, challenged her teachers, and neglected her schoolwork. Sydney found herself at a crossroads. Her future would depend on the trajectory of her choices.

As we have collectively faced unique challenges while navigating global turmoil in recent years, the communities we serve in Ecuador are no exception. When the COVID-19 pandemic hit Ecuador, students were limited to online school for 18 months. Students in Ecuador have had limited access to the resources we often take for granted in the United States. Because Sydney’s family has few resources, she received minimal academic support. Our Dream Center teachers worked hard to connect with her remotely, but Sydney was unable to thrive in a virtual learning environment while isolated at home.

Learn how you can help kids through Extreme Response’s Back-To-School drive.

A Story of Perseverance

At the end of the 2020-21 school year, Sydney failed eighth grade and learned she would have to repeat it. This was a huge setback for Sydney and her mother. Children in the Quito Recycling Community often face incredibly difficult decisions when they reach adolescence, and many quit school to join their families in the recycling lifestyle. Academic failure is frequently a catalyst onto this path, as an alternative future is largely unimaginable. While Sydney did not pass eighth grade initially, our Dream Center teachers encouraged her to persevere and supported her every step of the way.

After a long period of learning in isolation at home, students returned to school in-person and Dream Center activities resumed. This allowed Sydney to personally interact with her teachers daily. They encouraged her through tutoring, spiritual formation, and emotional support. Combined with access to technology and school supplies, Sydney’s heart and mind began to change.

Throughout the year, Dream Center teachers watched as her grades, attitude, and behavior improved. Sydney began to transform from a rebellious student to a highly motivated learner. She spent hours working on her homework and asked for help when she needed it. She collaborated with others and became a leader amongst her peers. Sydney now cared about her exams and worked hard to pass them, and she began to help her fellow students with their homework. On her own initiative, Sydney implemented a system of student teams to do daily chores, instilling a culture of responsibility.

Upcycling Success

Despite coming from a community that struggles with high levels of poverty and low education, Sydney persevered and passed the eighth grade! Her mom and teachers are amazed with her transformation, and everyone is incredibly proud of her. We cannot wait to see Sydney conquer future challenges in pursuit of her high school diploma.

Sydney has gone through many trials, but she is living proof of the miraculous work God orchestrates in our lives when we follow Him. With the support of our generous donors, we will continue to provide a safe and stable environment that is conducive to learning for other children like Sydney. Together, we will disrupt the cycle of generational poverty by positioning children for lifelong success through our Education Reinforcement programs.

To support our work with kids like Sydney, click here and designate ER Dream Centers under ER Programs.

*Name changed for privacy.

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