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Letter from Executive Director John McCollum

Seventeen years ago, I stepped off the plane in Phnom Penh, Cambodia having no idea what God had in store for me, my family and my friends. The company I had started was just beginning to pick up steam — we were finally turning a profit and winning some respect in the marketplace. My two boys, Pak and Chien, were just toddlers. (Today they’re in college. My daughter, Xiu Dan, now in middle school, hadn’t even been born.)

But that first visit — a short-term missions trip with a bunch of people I’d never even met — changed my life. It’s since changed the lives of hundreds of Christian leaders in Cambodia, Thailand and India, and it’s changing the lives of more than a thousand orphaned and vulnerable kids who today are living in one of Asia’s Hope’s 34 family-style children’s homes, are attending one of our schools, or have graduated and are receiving scholarships to attend university or vocational training courses.

And, I’m hoping, it’s changed your life as well.

That first trip led me and my wife to re-evaluate our priorities. It opened our eyes, minds and hearts to the plight of orphaned kids, and it led us and a handful of other faithful believers to start Asia’s Hope. In 2017, we celebrated Asia’s Hope’s fifteenth birthday. Fifteen years. A decade and a half of stepping out in faith, leading courageously on behalf of the world’s most vulnerable kids — and in guiding others to do the same.

We’ve learned a lot over the past fifteen years, and we’re convinced that God is calling us not only to expand the scale of our existing projects, but to extend our model of family-style residential care far beyond Cambodia, Thailand and India by encouraging and equipping other leaders and other ministries around the globe.

We’re already talking with colleagues in Mexico, Guatemala, Haiti, Zambia, Cote d’Ivoire, Tanzania, Uganda, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Myanmar. We lack the money and the administrative capacity (and, frankly, the mandate) to provide financial support, but we’re eagerly sharing our perspectives, policies and procedures with anyone who believes that orphanages can and should be more like families.

Our 100+ graduates — young adults who are succeeding in academics, in the workplace, and in family life — prove the transforming power of our model: indigenous-led, community-based, family-style care for orphaned kids. And we’re trusting God for the resources and the platform to see dozens — maybe hundreds — of other ministries adopt, adapt and improve our model, rescuing and raising countless thousands of children for the good of our world and the glory of our God.

We’re praying that 2018 will bring us even more resources and an even bigger platform so we can continue to enrich the lives of our existing kids and staff, expand the number of kids we can care for at Asia’s Hope, and extend our model to countries all around the world where orphaned kids desperately need a safe, loving, Christian family.

We look forward to helping you, your church, your family and your friends discover the courage, the skills and the resources God has already given you to lead on behalf of God’s precious children.
May God continue to bless you,

John McCollum, Executive Director, Asia's Hope

john@asiashope.org

 

 

 Executive Director John McCollum dancing with the kids at the Kalimpong 2 Children's Home in the foothills of India's Himalayan mountains.

Executive Director John McCollum dancing with the kids at the Kalimpong 2 Children's Home in the foothills of India's Himalayan mountains.

  Phnom Penh, April 7, 2001 — Journal entry from my first trip to Cambodia.    “I thought I had seen enough to make me immune to the sorrows of the street, but as I walked to breakfast, I had to step over the body of a five or six year old boy sleeping on the sidewalk. Beautiful but filthy — his clothes were literally rags. He looked like a tiny mannequin, a prop from some war movie. He hadn't had a bath in weeks, maybe months — probably longer since his last hug.        I wanted to pick him up, cradle him, give him decent meal. But I didn't dare wake him and steal his last moments of peace before he woke to his daily nightmare of begging for a scrap of food or a few hundred riel.        I could feed this boy for a day with the change hidden in my sofa cushions. But then there'd be thousands of others. How could I help them all? The need is so vast and my resources are so limited."     

Phnom Penh, April 7, 2001 — Journal entry from my first trip to Cambodia.

“I thought I had seen enough to make me immune to the sorrows of the street, but as I walked to breakfast, I had to step over the body of a five or six year old boy sleeping on the sidewalk. Beautiful but filthy — his clothes were literally rags. He looked like a tiny mannequin, a prop from some war movie. He hadn't had a bath in weeks, maybe months — probably longer since his last hug.
     I wanted to pick him up, cradle him, give him decent meal. But I didn't dare wake him and steal his last moments of peace before he woke to his daily nightmare of begging for a scrap of food or a few hundred riel.
     I could feed this boy for a day with the change hidden in my sofa cushions. But then there'd be thousands of others. How could I help them all? The need is so vast and my resources are so limited."

 

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We were blessed this year to open three new, family-style children's homes: two in Cambodia and one in Thailand.

Battambang 11 Home
This is the third Asia's Hope home sponsored by The Chapel (Akron, OH). Buo Veth, the BB11 father grew up in a family that was nearly destroyed by addiction and abuse before being transformed by the love of Christ. He and his wife understand the emotional and spiritual needs of the children in his care at a deep level. We are thankful that they are now a part of the Asia's Hope family.

Battambang 13 Home
This home is sponsored by the Wes and Dawn Polsdorfer family (Columbus, OH). Wes and Dawn had dreamed of funding an orphan home since adopting their daughter Andriana from Russia. Andriana, now a university student, traveled with her parents to celebrate the home's dedication in Battambang, Cambodia this June.

Doi Saket 1D Home
The Doi Saket 1D Home had previously served as a nursery for babies and toddlers entering Asia's Hope Thailand. We phased out the home's former role as we deepened our commitment to the family-style care model. This home is sponsored by The Chow Family (Baltimore, Maryland). John Chow, speaking for his family says, "We praise God that we are counted worthy to be a channel of His love and provision to the fatherless."

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What a thrill it is to welcome 76 new children into loving, Christian families at Asia's Hope!

When they first arrive, most of the children are scared. Older siblings hold the younger ones close. Some of the children voraciously consume all the food they can get their hands on; others eat only a small amount and hide the rest. But after a weeks in a stable, loving family, they start to change, to soften.

They discover that the healthy, delicious meals — more and better food than they'd ever had — will be available every day, and they slow down. They enjoy. And when they realize that their new parents will love them and provide for them even if they misbehave or make a mistake, they start to relax. Big sisters and brothers who, before coming to Asia's Hope had been forced to provide for the family, start acting like the kids they are. They laugh, they play and they begin to relax knowing that their little siblings are safe even when out of their sight.

And we know from our experience over the last 15 years that these new kids will soon be ready to learn in school, to heal from their emotional and spiritual injuries and dream about their futures as prosperous, productive members of their community.

We're deeply grateful for the opportunity to serve these kids, and we can't wait to watch them grow into the people they were created to be.


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When we started our very first children's home in 2004, we were told to expect maybe 10% of our kids to graduate high school and only a small fraction of those graduates to go on to university.

Today, 90% of our school-age children are on track to graduate high school. And more than 80% of our high school graduates go on to university or vocational training.

Now 93 of our kids are currently attending university. They're training to be bankers, teachers, pastors, lawyers, managers, engineers, government officials and artists.

These kids have overcome so much. Their bios read like an encyclopedia of human misery: their original families shattered by abuse, abandonment, addiction, murder, suicide, forced labor, prostitution and disease. It would be so easy to write them off as lost causes or to victimize them again by providing a level of care commensurate with the low expectations their adverse childhood experiences would tend to justify.

But these young scholars have proven that they have the ability and the ambition to break generational cycles of poverty and abuse — if only we will provide them loving families, high quality education and the opportunity to succeed.

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Last year, 19 of our students graduated from university, and are now beginning independent lives and careers.

These young adults are finding jobs, getting married and beginning to taste the fruit of their many years of hard work.

Some of them are continuing their education in graduate school or seminary. Some are traveling abroad to pursue careers. Some are settling down and starting families.

To our great joy, an ever growing number are returning to Asia's Hope as staff members. Currently, 12 of our graduates now work at Asia's Hope in roles ranging from cooks to teachers to home parents.

These second-generation Asia's Hope staff are uniquely equipped to understand the needs of the children in their care, and represent a bright future for Asia's Hope as an organization.


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Not all Asia's Hope students have the desire or aptitude to attend university. But that doesn't change our commitment to giving each of  them the tools they need to succeed as independent adults.

We've worked hard to provide  vocational training programs for each student who has graduated high school, or who has reached the highest level of schooling they can attain.

These programs range from apprenticeships in barber salons and bike shops to degree programs offering professional certification as electricians and diesel mechanics. We are proud of these hardworking kids and are thankful for the support they've received from our partners and from individuals who donate to our scholarship fund.

 

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In 2017, eight of our graduates completed their vocational training programs and entered the workforce.

If these young adults had been raised in an institutional orphanage, most would have "aged out," left to fend for themselves with limited education and no marketable skills. They would find themselves in the same situation that their original families were in and would themselves produce another generation of orphaned, abandoned children living each day at risk of economic and sexual exploitation.

Because we consider each child at Asia's Hope a valued family member, we've provided them the opportunity and the experience they'll need to transform their own lives and that of their community and country.



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Financially speaking, 2017 was another good year for Asia's Hope. Our total income increased by 18.5% to $2,792,883, and our program expenses grew by 16%. And once again, we've managed to keep our overhead to just under 10% of our total expenses.

And thanks to the tireless advocacy of our passionate supporters, we spent less than 20¢ on fundraising for every $100 we received in donations. In comparison, the average non-profit in America spends $37 — or 185 times what we spend — to raise the same amount. And, as always, Asia's Hope has remained completely debt free.

In October 2017 we launched a year end giving campaign we called "The Big Fifteen" in honor of Asia's Hope's 15th Anniversary.

Thanks to the courage and generosity of God's people, we were able to raise $189,946 for expansions and improvements and $191,925 for schools and scholarships! To find out more about the projects funded by The Big Fifteen, check out this update video from John McCollum, our executive director.

Note: some of the funds given for The Big Fifteen were received in 2018, and are therefore not reflected in the 2017 year end income summary.

Strategic Priorities for 2018

In 2016, Asia’s Hope board identified three strategic priorities: Enrichment, Expansion and Extension. In 2018, we see opportunities for forward progress in all three areas.

Enriching the lives of our existing kids and staff

Thanks in part to the success of The Big Fifteen Campaign, we will fully fund the university education and vocational training for more than 120 hardworking young adults who grew up at Asia’s Hope. We’ll also complete much-needed expansions and improvements across our 34 homes.

We will be able to fully support our primary school in Prek Eng, Cambodia and our secondary school in Battambang, Cambodia. Because much of the funding for those two schools came in the form of one-time gifts, we are working hard to recruit long-term sponsors for both of those projects. We are also planning to expand our Scholarship Fund to accommodate graduate-level fellowships for a select few exemplary students.

Expanding our care to more orphaned and vulnerable kids

Because we were able to raise the funds needed to improve the infrastructure at our Wiang Pa Pao, Thailand campus, we are now actively recruiting sponsors for the first of seven new homes on our beautiful and spacious plot of land nestled in the Thai highlands. We will also complete construction of at least one new home on our Battambang, Cambodia campus.

Extending our model of family style care outside our organization

We look forward to continuing our work advocating for family-style residential orphan care, and are praying that God will allow to build relationships with like-minded organizations around the globe. In March 2018, our executive director, John McCollum, was interviewed by the KLOVE/AirOne radio network and broadcast nationwide on more than 240 stations. We anticipate an increase in our visibility in 2018 thanks to this and other exciting opportunities to speak and write about our philosophies and practices.


Partnership Opportunities in 2018

We have a number of exciting opportunities for both capital and operating funding partnerships, and are actively pursuing churches, families and businesses who want to lead courageously by giving generously to rescue and raise orphaned and vulnerable kids.

Prek Eng Primary School

Located on our campus just outside Phnom Penh, Cambodia, this school serves 125 K–6 grade students from Asia’s Hope and the surrounding community.

We're seeking schools, churches, families or businesses to sponsor single grades — or sponsor the entire school.

  • Cost to sponsor a single grade:
    $470/month
  • Cost for full sponsorship:
    $3,300/month

Contact us for more info about this project.


Battambang Secondary School

Located on our Battambang, Cambodia campus, this middle and high school has a capacity of 325 7–12 grade students from Asia’s Hope and the surrounding community. In 2017, 100% of the graduating 12th graders passed the highly competitive national university entrance exam!

If you, your family, your school, church or business is interested in sponsoring a single grade — or the entire school — please contact us today.

  • Cost to sponsor a single grade:
    $1,400/month
  • Cost for full sponsorship:
    $8,400/month

Contact us for more info about this project.

University student centers

By establishing residential student centers in areas where most of our students go to school, we can save costs and provide a healthy environment for these students to transition from full-time care towards independent living. We currently operate one center in Phnom Penh, Cambodia and one in Battambang, Cambodia. We plan to open new student centers in Battambang and in Chiang Mai, Thailand as funding permits.

  • Cost for rent and staffing of student center:
    ~$1,850/mo
    (exact budget varies per location)

Contact us for more info about this project.


New children’s homes in Wiang Pa Pao

After many years of preparation and waiting, our campus in beautiful Wiang Pa Pao, Thailand is finally ready to welcome seven new homes. Each home will provide 20–25 orphaned hilltribe children a loving Christian family and the education they’ll need to to thrive. Sponsors will enjoy a long-term relationship with the kids and with their caregivers and parents.

We’re seeking both capital partnerships to build the homes and operating partnerships to provide ongoing support for the kids and staff.

  • One-time startup costs:
    $16,000 per home
  • Home construction costs:
    $144,000 per home (includes other infrastructure improvements)
  • Cost for operation of home:
    $3,700/mo per home

Contact us for more info about this project.

The Exemplary Scholar Fellowship

We’re excited to announce the launch of a highly selective, strategic initiative designed to develop the next generation of high-capacity leaders. The Exemplary Scholar Fellowship will provide the resources we need to address continuing education expenses for our most talented university graduates.

Starting in Fall 2018, we will begin awarding fellowship grants to a small number of students seeking higher education or advanced training in the following fields of study: Pastoral Training/Christian Leadership, Child Development, Organizational Management, and Law, Public Policy and Human Rights.

Grants will be awarded on the basis of merit and strategic value to Asia’s Hope, to the Kingdom of God and to society as a whole. The program will expand as funding permits, and as value is demonstrated by the first generation of participants.

  • Funding target for Cambodia: $20,000/year
  • Funding target for Thailand: $12,000/year
  • Funding target for India:
    $8,500/year

Contact us for more info about this project.


Battambang Security Wall

As the city of Battambang has grown, the neighborhood surrounding our homes and school has quickly gone from rural to semi-urban. The dramatic increase in population in our immediate vicinity has introduced a number of significant security concerns that can only be adequately addressed by the construction of a permanent security wall around more than 1,000 meters of our property’s least secured perimeter.

  • Cost for two security guards:
    $350/month
  • Cost per 100 meters:
    $10,000
  • Total cost to complete wall:
    $107,900

Contact us for more info about this project.