When Luis Bourdet, Children Incorporated Director of International Programs, and I left the Chandrakal Methodist Boarding Home to visit the Lou Ann Long Girls’ Hostel on our second day in India, I was just starting to get an understanding of what poverty looks like for children in the country. The Chandrakal Methodist Boarding Home, although older and lacking in funds, is providing for hundreds of students coming from poor farming communities — kids who otherwise would not go to school. …


After spending a long day visiting two projects outside of Hyderabad, Luis Bourdet, our Director of International Programs, and I prepared to travel even further into India’s rural landscape to a small town called Dornakal, in the state of Telangana, where we would be visiting six more homes. Before we left, Luis had explained to me that our projects in Dornakal are nestled in a cathedral compound run by the Diocese of Dornakal, which is a sector of the Church of South India, the largest Protestant denomination in the country.

We were picked up early in the morning by a…


After two days of visiting our affiliated schools in Lawrence County, Kentucky, U.S. Projects Specialist Shelley Oxenham and I traveled about an hour south to Floyd County to meet with a new Volunteer Coordinator, Scott Shannon, as well as to visit with a long-term coordinator, Sharon Collins, who had recently been transferred to a new school. …


I didn’t know what to expect upon arriving to India after having spent a week visiting our affiliated projects in Sri Lanka. India was a place of wonder to me. Most of what I knew about the country was statistical information about its enormous population and the extreme poverty Indians face; of the 1.2 billion people living in India, an estimated 23.6 percent of the population lives on the equivalent of $1.25 or less a day. …


When Shelley Oxenham, U.S. Projects Specialist, and I met with our Volunteer Coordinator, Brenda Curry, at Fallsburg Elementary School in August, the first thing Brenda wanted to talk about was a very special family that she had arranged for us to visit with that afternoon. Stewart and Carolyn Sawyer live in a small home in Lawrence County, Kentucky, about a twenty-minute drive away from the school, where their son, Michael*, who is sponsored through Children Incorporated, is in the eighth grade.

Of the nineteen children that are in our program at Fallsburg Elementary, Brenda has the greatest connection with Michael…


Since I first started visiting our affiliated projects in Eastern Kentucky in April of 2015, I have been reporting on the burden of poverty that our sponsored children and their families face every day. With a lack of jobs and scarcity of resources for people in need in this region of the United States, I often get asked when I return home: Why don’t people in need just move somewhere else?

It is a question that I had not been able to answer on my own, because quite honestly, I didn’t know how to answer it. When your situation seems…


In late August, Shelley Oxenham, U.S. Projects Specialist for Children Incorporated, and I traveled to Lawrence County, Kentucky to visit Louisa Middle School and Lawrence County High School. The two schools are located in the Eastern Kentucky Coal Field region in a very rural part of the state. The county is one of the largest in the state, meaning the distances between stores, homes, schools, and businesses are vast.

There is no quick trip to anywhere in Lawrence County; even going to buy a carton of milk or visiting the post office can take twenty or thirty minutes by car…


Almost as soon as we arrived in Managua after our flight from San Jose, I could tell that Nicaragua was vastly different from Costa Rica. As we drove out of the capital city, the jungle landscape we had seen just one day before had been replaced by flat, open land where cows and horses roamed for miles. Along the road to Leon, the second largest city in Nicaragua after Managua, we saw cowboys, both young and old, leading herds of animals, and I felt like we were in an old Western movie.

That feeling didn’t change when we arrived two…


Located southwest of the capital of Nicaragua is Boaco, a town that was built on such a steep hill that it is described by locals as having two floors — a first floor with homes and businesses, and then another tier of houses and shops high above the first, considered the second floor. …

Shelley Briggs Callahan

Shelley is the author of The House of Life. She has traveled extensively around world reporting on the burden of poverty, and supporting communities in need.

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