Over 90% of orphans in the world live in low and middle-income countries. These children are orphaned from things like HIV/AIDS and armed conflict. With no one to care for them, many of these children suffer from hunger, malnutrition, and lack of education.
Assist International believes that every child deserves the opportunity to live a healthy, productive life, and there is nothing more life-changing than providing a child with a family and education. We care for orphaned and vulnerable children by developing and sustaining family-style orphan villages.
We also build and support schools for children. Education is the foundation of a hopeful, productive future, yet in the world today, millions of children do not have the opportunity to attend primary school. We work with our partners to provide educational opportunities for children that have limited or no access to education.
Caminul Felix Romania and Felix Family Village Thailand
Caminul Felix is Assist International’s first and longest-sustaining program. In 1989, when communism fell in Romania, many major news organizations became aware of the inhumane conditions for the 100,000 children in state-run orphanages. One ABC news article described what they saw: “Young children in straight jackets, groups of mentally disturbed adolescents spending their days in bleak rooms sitting in eerie silence, babies nearly starving to death.”
While visiting Romania with his wife in 1990, Assist International founder Bob Pagett witnessed the Romanian orphan crisis with his own eyes, and he felt compelled to respond. He partnered with an organization called Caminul Felix, which means “Happy Home” in Romanian, and built a family-style orphan village in Oradea, Romania. This orphan village “gives families to the children of the world.”
Today, Caminul Felix has two orphan villages and a total of 16 homes, each providing a mother and father for orphaned
and abandoned children. At any time, over 200 children are living at Caminul Felix, and through the years, over 1,000 children have had their lives changed through this effort. Assist International has been actively involved every step of the way through infrastructure projects, including homes, a dairy, playgrounds, school buildings, and offices, and by raising sponsorships for children.
The Caminul Felix model expanded to Surat Thani, Thailand, in 2007, where a ten-home orphan village rescues children and young people who have been orphaned or abandoned and places them in families. Each child is given a family, complete with a mother and father and siblings. There are over 100 children currently living at Felix Thailand.
Due to the AIDS epidemics, civil wars, and extreme poverty, there are over 2.6 million children who have been orphaned in Uganda. Sam Tushabe, once an orphan himself, founded AOET (AIDS Orphan Education Trust) in response to the suffering he witnessed in his community. Founded in 2000, AOET now consists of many child welfare programs and impacts over 4,000 children. The AOET Children’s Village, located in Jinja, Uganda, includes 15 homes and 15 foster families. Over 100 orphaned and abandoned children live in the village, and each of these children receives education at AOET schools. AOET also established two schools in Jinja, Uganda- Rehaboth Integrated Primary School and Rehaboth Integrated High School. Approximately 75% of the students are supported through sponsorships, and the other 25% of students come from families who can afford to pay school fees. AOET also established a medical clinic in the village of Bugembe, providing basic health care, health education, and immunizations for children in the programs.
Assist International partnered with AOET in 2006. Since the partnership began, Assist International has funded and managed every major infrastructure project at AOET, including classroom buildings, dormitories, a library, a chemistry and biology laboratory, a computer room, homes at the AOET Children’s Village, and a clean water well for the village. Assist International has also helped raise child sponsorships for children in the program.
In the last ten years, 1,743 children have graduated from high school through the AOET program. Many of these children are orphans, and many others come from broken families. 446 students have gone on to graduate from university, and 802 have graduated from vocational school.
The current total enrollment of Rehaboth High School stands at 415, with 210 of those students boarding in the dormitories.
Sister Rosemary has dedicated her life to rescuing children and mothers in Northern Uganda who have been devastated by war. Sister Rosemary gives hope to girls and young women scarred by war in northern Uganda. These girls’ lives have been devastated by violence and sexual exploitation. To help these women support themselves, Sister Rosemary trains them in tailoring and catering. Most importantly, she has created a home and sense of belonging for these women and their children. The orphan village in Atiak provides homes for these young women and their children, as well as other orphan children in the region. In 2014, Sister Rosemary was named one of Time Magazine’s 100 Most Influential People, and she was recognized as a “CNN Hero” in 2007.
We partnered with Sister Rosemary in 2014 to provide housing, education, and opportunities for girls, young women, and children in Northern Uganda. Our goal is to greatly expand Sister Rosemary’s capacity to alleviate suffering in the region. To date, we’ve built ten homes at the orphan village, and a medical clinic is currently under construction.
Assist International was birthed out of a response to the needs of orphaned and vulnerable children. Since 1990, this has always been the center of our mission. For almost 30 years, we’ve been on the front lines, building orphan homes and schools and meeting the needs of suffering children.
When you join CHILD: ASSIST, you will be directly supporting Assist International’s programs for orphaned and vulnerable children.
These programs, located in Uganda, Rwanda, Kenya, Romania, and Thailand, provide orphaned and vulnerable children with a home, a family, and access to education.