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Introduction to Dorie’s Promise

            Located in Guatemala City, Dorie’s Promise is an orphanage providing fulltime care, housing, education and other amenities for up to 40 children. Among the staff members are approximately 25 Special Mothers who directly care for the children, a doctor, a teacher and a psychologist. Their services have taken on more significance since the country halted international adoptions in December of 2007. The home receives no government funding, relying primarily on donations and grants from sources in the United States.

            “Our orphanage runs like a home,” says Heather Radu, founder of Forever Changed International, the Portland-area ministry that operates the orphanage. “We try to make life for the children living here as close to a home as possible. We’re not just putting a roof over kids’ head so we can say we’re helping orphans. We have very high standards, from the care they are getting to the women who take care of them to their food, shelter, neighborhood, schools they attend, and their extracurricular activities.”

            Originally a missionary to Romania, Heather felt touched by the plight of children in that eastern European nation. After caring for orphans in Romania, she moved to Bulgaria and in 2000 went to Guatemala to establish a home there. Originally known as Heather’s Hope, Radu renamed the orphanage in 2009 after she organized Forever Changed to focus all her attention on missions in Central America.

            In 2010 Heather set up a sponsorship program, matching donors with specific children. In addition to sending at least $35 a month (one generous contributor gives $1,000) to help provide for housing, food and other needs, sponsors send cards, letters and e-mails to their child. Some take trips to Guatemala so they can make personal visits, while others have become adoptive parents. The sponsorship program provides approximately 70 percent of children’s ongoing support. The goal is to reach 100 percent so Forever Changed can use major donations for expansion.

            “There is nothing more paramount in life than being able to help a child,” Heather says. “The children and their needs energize me—and the passion of the people who work for Forever Changed. They are so passionate about what they do what they do each and every day. It makes it easy for me as a leader to want to continue to lead the organization forward when we have such a passionate staff and such amazing kids who need our guidance, love and support in order to grow.”