“Over the river and through the woods to grandmother’s house we’ll go” brings back warm memories of childhood Thanksgivings; turkey with all the fixings, pumpkin pie and whipped cream and family, all gathered around a table. For me, Thanksgiving Day meant giving thanks for all that God had given me, but since joining Operation Blessing, every single day is filled with feelings of thanksgiving… for all that OBI is able to give away.
UNITED STATES – As families all over America prepare for Thanksgiving, pulling out old recipes and purchasing turkeys, cranberries and more for the big day, some are searching empty cupboards for anything that can fill their empty stomachs.
Unemployment, medical bills or even a slump in the economy can put families in a position where they must choose between buying groceries and keeping the lights on. For these families struggling to make ends meet, a box of groceries can make all the difference.
QALAKHENG, Lesotho – Imagine living in a tiny, one-room flat with 13 other people. For nine-year-old Ntabeleng*, this is home.
Orphaned at a young age, Ntabeleng lives with her grandmother, Ma Nkapane, and 12 cousins in the small village of Qalakheng.
IQUITOS, Peru – In a home desperately needing repair, six-year-old Linda would cry all night, unable to hold back the tears because her stomach ached so badly from hunger.
INDIA – Born with two clubfeet in a small Indian village, eight-month-old Poornima needed a miracle for her to be able to walk and keep up with the other children as she got older.
Her parents were determined to give her that miracle through corrective treatment, despite their low income and claims from friends and family that clubfoot could not be cured. But Poornima’s parents were hopeful and sacrificed much just to get their little girl to the hospital in Mumbai—each trip costing a full day’s wages.
Then, with Operation Blessing’s help, Poornima received the necessary treatment she so desperately needed free of charge to her family. Now wearing braces in the final phase of her treatment, Poornima’s family can see visible results and are excited to see their little girl learning to walk.
GEORGIA – As the cost of food and utilities rose over the past few years, Chrissy did everything she could to make her husband’s paycheck stretch to meet their family’s needs. But before long, Jeff’s mechanic’s salary just wasn’t enough to pay the bills and put food on the table for their four children.
PAGNAMITAN, Philippines – When Typhoon Haiyan decimated her village a year ago, everything Clara had worked for was gone—her home, her business and even her daughter’s wheelchair.
COSTA RICA – Children should feel safe in their own homes, but for 5-year-old Karla* and her older sister Natalie*, home was anything but safe.
When their mother was struggling to afford food or rent, she would sell them to men in their neighborhood — sacrificing their innocence for additional income.
Little Karla and her sister found refuge in Operation Blessing-partner, Seeds of Hope, an organization that reaches out to young girls, working to prevent and rehabilitate sexually exploited and at-risk children.
“The girls would regularly weep in our arms,” said one staff member, “but never tell us what was going on at home.”
Then one of the girls was brought to a hospital after being raped and authorities learned about the abuse they had suffered. Costa Rican child protective services authorized Seeds of Hope to house and care for the girls until a safe home could be found for them.
Thanks in part to Operation Blessing partners, Karla and Natalie were able to be placed with a caring family and are receiving counseling to help them through the recovery process.
“They look so happy and content,” said another staff member after a visit with the girls in their new home. “We are thankful that these girls are in a safe family, and we are confident that they will be okay.”
(photo courtesy of Madison Baltodano Photography)
*Name changed to protect identity
RWANDA – At only 17 pounds, little Imanirakoze was only half the weight of a healthy child his age—despite how hard his mother Venantie worked to provide enough food for him and his siblings.
IRAQ – Torn from everything they have ever known, children living in Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) camps in Northern Iraq are scared and confused—unsure of what the future holds as ISIS continues to terrorize the region.