O p e r at i o n B l e s s i n g I n t e r n at i o n a l
If it hadnâ€™t been for the gift of a goat, young Saratou might never know her ABCs ~ page 4
A Message from The President
f you’ve ever flown into JFK Airport and looked out the window on final approach, you may have noticed a narrow sandy peninsula, one road running its length, with wide beaches and small houses tightly packed into neat rows. I’ve seen it many times and wondered who lived in such a pleasant seaside community so close to the teeming concrete canyons of America’s largest city. Breezy Point is a closely-knit enclave made up mostly of New York City employees: NYPD officers, FDNY firefighter families and other public servants, many of whom are descendents of the original Irish immigrants who settled there over 100 years ago. This is the place we saw on our TVs the night Sandy raged ashore—amidst the waves and winds an entire neighborhood stood ablaze as if in an “end of the world” movie. When the smoke cleared, 110 houses were in smoldering ruin with all of the 2,700 others awash in saltwater—basements and first floors flooded, and interiors, wiring, furniture
and belongings a soggy, ruined mess. This is a community whose residents had already given and suffered much. Besides every day public service, 31 Breezy Point residents—including firefighters— went to work the morning of 9/11 but never returned. Many spent the last moments of their lives trying to save others at the World Trade Center. Many of Breezy Point’s residents are aging, still living in the homes they were born in. Over half could not afford flood insurance and are now struggling to find ways to fix their homes and move back in. Operation Blessing has been on the ground since the day after Sandy came ashore. We are leading efforts to organize volunteers and are serving hot meals, providing building materials, making repairs and assisting in rebuild projects. Breezy Point residents have been serving others for generations. Now it’s our turn to serve them. Can you help? We need volunteers, building materials and funds to keep efforts going through the winter.
Inside this issue Cover Page 4
G is for Goat
If it hadnâ€™t been for the gift of a goat, young Saratou might never know her ABCs
6 Rising to the Occasion
A bakery workshop helps a young man in Peru reach for his dream
8 Courage Among the Suffering
Photos from Superstorm Sandy capture the devastation and tireless efforts of relief workers and volunteers to help residents of New York and New Jersey
A Tree Grows in Haiti
After a hurricane destroys crops in southern Haiti, farmers receive a special delivery of fruit trees to help restore their industry
12 Life as a Child Slave Working 20-hour days as a child slave,
Gwenâ€™s life as a young teen was one of horror before finally being rescued and returned to her family
14 Can a Cookbook Really Save Lives? Get the recipes that were inspired by stories of families around the world fighting hunger, poverty and sickness
“We want to give our children a better life,” said Peri, at right. “That is why education for my children is so important to me.”
G goat is for
If it hadn’t been for the gift of a goat, young Saratou might never know her ABCs
If it hadn’t been for the gift of a goat, Saratou might never know her ABCs. In fact, she and her sisters might still be sitting in their dirt yard instead of at their school desks, playing with a crudely constructed doll made from a piece of plastic, a rusty nail and a tuft of hair—a toy that represents the poverty they live in every single day. Five-year-old Saratou is from the Wodaabe tribe in Niger, traditionally known as being nomadic herdsmen in the remote, desert regions of the nation. But as her father, Peri, searched for a stable income, he moved their family from the desert to the capital city of Niamey. There he hoped they would find a fresh start in the tourism industry. But as insecurity in the nation grew, tourism waned and traditional souvenirs were no longer in demand, leaving Peri
unable to provide for his family.
local market. The income he
Saratou and her siblings suffered
generated from the goat sales
malnutrition, and Peri despaired
was enough to provide for his
ever being able to afford to send
family, begin paying back his
them to school.
loan, and even send Saratou and
Then Operation Blessing
her siblings to school.
gave Saratou’s family a small
“Saratou’s mother and I
loan that allowed her father to
did not go to school and look
purchase two goats to begin
where we are now,” her father
his own business. Using the
said. “We want to give our
knowledge he had learned
children a better life and more
from the traditional herdsmen
opportunities than we had.
of his tribe, Saratou’s father
That is why education for my
raised the goats and they
children is so important to me.”
soon began producing milk
Today, little Saratou studies
every morning—a nutritious
French and is learning to read
supplement for Saratou and her
and write—skills that will help
her rise up out of poverty and
Soon, her father was able
have a successful future—all
to breed and sell the goats at a
thanks to the gift of a goat. u
Thanks to the gift of the goats, Saratou and her siblings are now able to attend school.
PERU Miguel joined an Operation Blessing bakery workshop where he learned the skills he needed to start his own business.
Rising To The Occasion A bakery workshop helps a young man in Peru reach for his dream
When Miguel finished high
workshop, she urged her son to
school last year, he desperately
enroll in the class.
wanted to attend a university,
There, Miguel began learning
but simply didn’t have the
all the skills he needed to
money to afford it.
establish his own business—and
So he began working in
he found hope in the midst of an
a local market—cleaning
chickens. Friends tried to coax
“I was gaining experience and
him to join their life on the
began to be filled with dreams of
streets as a gang member, but
what I could do with what I was
Miguel’s mother had a different
learning,” he said.
idea. She had worked with
When the class was
Operation Blessing to develop a
complete, Operation Blessing
small family garden, and when
invited Miguel and some
she heard about OBI’s bakery
of his classmates to begin a
Thanks to microenterprise projects like these, last fiscal year Operation Blessing equipped more than 17,000 individuals with marketable job skills and small business opportunities.
community bakery together, providing them with six months of supplies to help get the business going. Now Miguel and his colleagues run a successful bakery they call Bread of Life. The profit they make is allowing them to not only grow the business, but also provide a good income. “Now I’ll be able to save and pay for my university studies,” Miguel said. “Operation Blessing definitely changed our lives.” u 7
Devastation in Little Egg Harbor, NJ and Breezy Point, NY.
Among the Suffering Photos from Superstorm Sandy capture the devastation and tireless efforts of relief workers and volunteers to help residents of New York and New Jersey
Volunteers pack food boxes for devastated residents in NYCâ€™s Far Rockaway.
Teams gut and clear out debris from flooded basements in Breezy Point.
An OBI volunteer breaks down fallen trees in a NJ community.
Residents of Lower East Manhattan without food, water or power wait in long lines to get a hot meal and bags of groceries.
A pastor from Florida leads his youth group in cleaning out sewage-filled homes.
Volunteers gut flood-damaged homes in Little Egg Harbor, NJ.
Debris piles outside devastated homes in NJ.
Operation Blessing teams up with Friends of Firefighters to cook a full Thanksgiving feast for first responders and residents.
to all our partners who have responded to help victims of Hurricane Sandy! To read more stories of people you have helped, please visit
Jody Gettys, OBIâ€™s US Director of Disaster Relief, comforts a resident of New Jersey whose home was damaged by floods.
A Tree Grows in Haiti Students in a civic education class plant guava saplings to help restore the agriculture industry in their region.
After a hurricane destroys crops in southern Haiti, farmers receive a special delivery of fruit trees to help restore their industry
fter Hurricane Sandy destroyed an estimated 70 percent of the crops in southern Haiti, Operation Blessing teams distributed sapling fruit trees to aid in the long-term restoration of
agriculture in the region. Ensuring the trees reached farmers in the most need, OBI teams designated 150 breadfruit saplings for those who were still unreachable due to severe flooding following Sandy. An additional 100 guava tree saplings were distributed in Port Salut; 60 were placed in a nursery to be distributed to local farmers and another 40 were given to students in a civic education class to help instruct students on the value of these trees as well as their proper care. u
Operation Blessing distributed 250 tree saplings to help revitalize areas devastated by Sandy. 11
As a child slave, Gwen worked 20-hour days with no pay and hardly any food.
Life as a
Child Slave Working 20-hour days as a child slave, Gwen’s life as a young teen was one of horror before finally being rescued and returned to her family MYANMAR (Burma)
Gwen* was one of the lucky ones. She escaped her nightmare. Her family was told by a “broker” that she would be paid well for working in Thailand. Instead, the young teen was forced to wake at 4 a.m. and work in a meat-packing factory until midnight—no days off, hardly any food, and no pay. She was a slave. For families struggling with poverty, offers like these give parents hope that their children will have a better future. “Many parents have no idea that their children have become slaves and believe that they are doing fine in Thailand,” said David Darg, vice president of international operations for Operation Blessing. “It’s only when they come home that the family realizes 12
*Name changed to protect identity
how dangerous a situation it was.” If they come home at all. Fortunately, Gwen did thanks to the work of OBI’s strategic partner, Asian Tribal Ministries (ATM), who works in cooperation with Thai authorities to rescue child slaves and return them home.
Karenna of Asian Tribal Ministries, at left, addresses a group of women from one of the villages on how to protect their children from trafficking.
Today, 14-year-old Gwen is thriving in her homeland of
help keep Gwen and her siblings
Myanmar and now attending
fed and secure.
school for the first time.
“Gwen escaped the horrors
Operation Blessing provided
of her factory enslavement and
her family with a water filter
now faces a hopeful future,”
to give them much-needed
Darg added. “Together, ATM
clean water and also gave them
and Operation Blessing have
livestock—two pigs and two
given them new hope and are
goats—to provide them with a
truly making an impact in the
source of income and food to
lives of families in Myanmar.” u
“He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives.” ~ Isaiah 61:1
Thanks to new goats from Operation Blessing, Gwen’s family will now have income to provide for her and her siblings. 13
Can a Cookbook
Save Lives? We believe it can. The
flour and filled with beans, corn,
rice or potatoes), and today, these homemade snacks (see recipe on pg 65 in cookbook) are selling out and allowing them to provide food
for their family and send their girls to school.
With a donation of $100 or more,
recipes in this special cookbook
you’ll receive your own copy of
families in the U.S. and around
be helping to save lives through
poverty and sickness. Families
provide hunger relief, medical
were inspired by the stories of
Bless This Food—and not only
the world who are fighting hunger,
your support of programs that
like Mirna’s (see top photo).
care, skills training, education and
find enough work to support their
but also be
going hungry. Then Operation
them start a business making
Mirna and her husband couldn’t
more to impoverished families —
family—and their children were
able to enjoy
Blessing partners like you helped
pastelitos (patties made of wheat
To receive your copy, log on today! 14
“We give thanks to God always for you all, making mention of you in our prayers.” 1 Thessalonians 1:2
Photo Prayer of the Day Your free daily Photo Prayer is just a click away! Sign up today at ob.org/photoprayer and you’ll get a special photo and prayer sent to your inbox each morning. 15
2013 Blessings Partner
Support Operation Blessing as a monthly member, helping to relieve suffering around the world.
Our thanks for your
A precious gift.
hen you become a monthly partner, your tax-deductible gifts make a lasting difference to impoverished and disaster-stricken families. To show our deep thanks, we will send you this beautiful photograph by award-winning photographer Tony Cece. For displaying your gift, youâ€™ll also receive a wooden stand. This memento is a testament to your compassion for those in great need. To enroll or renew your monthly partnership, please fill out and mail the enclosed card. Or make an immediate difference by enrolling online at operationblessing.org.
Scan and join to help struggling families. Copyright ÂŠ 2013 by Operation Blessing International, P.O. Box 2636, Virginia Beach, VA 23450 For more information, call (800) 730-2537 or visit our website at operationblessing.org.
Published on Jan 5, 2013
If it hadn't been for the gift of a goat, young Saratou might never know her ABCs. Blessings is a monthly publication of Operation Blessing...