April 2015 Newsletter


No girl should ever look like this, said Emily, aged 6, softly as she stood looking in the mirror.   Then, turning and squaring off with me, she set her hands firmly on her hips and defiantly said, And I’m never going to look like this again. 

I was recently asked to guest lecture at the National University on the topic of drug traffickers and runners. The traffickers are the differently-sized gears that make up a drug cartel’s machinery.  Together they destroy millions of lives each year.

The runners are the mules and the strays; the drivers and kids who deliver drugs or pick-up money that is owed. Runners exist in almost every city in every country in the world. Oftentimes they do their work while walking to or from class.

When Emily’s father, Walter, was in his mid-teens, he was forced to become a mule. By all accounts, before then he was a good, church-going teenage village boy. He married his girlfriend when they were just 15; little Emily came almost immediately thereafter. He was a kind husband and a good dad.side 1a cropped 3x

Walter earned his living driving a taxi in the nearby town of Chimaltenango. On one run three years ago, a passenger left a bundled package on the backseat of Walter’s taxicab.  Walter spotted it, turned around, and drove back to where he had dropped-off his passenger. The passenger was still there and obviously quite pleased; he gave Walter more money than Walter had earned during all of the previous month.

That’s one way the cartel makes new mules, a friend later explained.  If Walter hadn’t noticed the bundle or hadn’t returned it to his passenger within a few hours, Walter was told, he would have been killed that same night.

The next day Walter was reminded of the payment he had received ‘for making his first delivery’.  He didn’t understand at first because he hadn’t realized he had made a delivery, but after it was explained to him that he now worked for a cartel and couldn’t quit driving for them unless they said he could, he understood.  Walter had just turned 17.

For the next three years Walter drove passengers when hailed, and delivered wrapped packages when told. Through it all he saved every penny, planning to one day take his wife and daughter, Emily, and run away.

Either the national police or a rival gang got to Walter first. He didn’t come home one night or the following day.  Two days later his kidnapped and tortured body was found at the bottom of a local ravine.

After that, Lidia, his wife, fell into a deep depression which, within months, developed into kidney, thyroid and weight problems.  Emily, their daughter, felt so bad at losing her dad and being unable to help her mom, that she repeatedly hit her arms, legs and face with pieces of wood.

A family judge sent Lidia and Emily to the Project.  A neighbor noticed Emily’s bruises and cuts and called the police, thinking the tiny girl was being abused.  The judge listened to their story, immediately understood, and sent the suffering mother and daughter to us in his personal car.

When children and women as ill as Lidia and Emily arrive at the Project, our first thought is ‘Survival’. We rushed Lidia to a nearby hospital where they treated the excess of toxic body fluids that threatened to give her a stroke.

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We then placed Emily with a temporary foster family.  We also had her meet daily with Lucia Sican, our in-house psychologist, who coaxed out her fears that it was her fault her dad disappeared and her mother had become sick.

Next, we enrolled Emily at the Project’s Dreamer Center School so we could build a routine for her and give her new friends.

On her first day of classes, I walked in to give Emily encouragement.  I surprised her standing there, looking in a mirror at her now-healing bruises and cuts on her arms and face.

No girl should ever look like this, Emily said without even looking up.  We have to go now, Emily, I told her quietly. It’s time for school.

With an energy that surprised me, she spun around, set her hands onto her hips and defiantly said, No girl should ever look this way and I’m never going to look like this again.

She then picked up her backpack and marched out the door. As she passed me, I heard her harrumph. That made me laugh so hard that tears came to my eyes; also, I knew she was going to make it.

Thousands of children come to The GOD’S CHILD Project because they want to survive. They want to eat, and they’d like to go to school.  Please join us in the battle to save their lives.

Your love, prayers and financial support for the children help them to put their lives back together.

Please do what you can to help. We really need your support right now.


Patrick J. Atkinson
Founder, Executive Director
The GOD'S CHILD Project

p.s. On any given day, 13,700 children and young women walk through a GOD’S CHILD Project door somewhere in the world. They are hungry and looking for food. They are homeless and looking for shelter. They are bleeding or sick and looking for care. Please help us to help the children today. CLICK HERE

Fuego Erupts, GOD’S CHILD Project Deploys Emergency Response


Pat Schwalbe, Director of Operations and Special Activities
The GOD’S CHILD Project
Ph. (701) 255-7956

GOD’S CHILD Project Guatemalan Locations Covered in Sulfuric Ash


(February 9, 2015) On Saturday, February 7 around 4:43pm Fuego Volcan, one of Central America’s most active volcanoes, erupted and spewed ashes to an altitude reaching 18,000 feet above sea level covering much of Antigua, Guatemala City and surrounding villages according to Guatemala’s national disasters agency. The smoke and ash forced Guatemala’s airport to stop all air traffic for the weekend. 

GOD’S CHILD Project International Executive Director Patrick Atkinson coordinated and activated emergency disaster relief plans for volcanic response with Program Director Miguel Angel Alvarez Paz at The GOD’S CHILD Project’s Asociacion Nuestros Ahijados. Guatemalan officials contacted GCP as they are designated first responders.

The Project’s extensive emergency relief efforts brought 4,000 face masks and medical supplies to villagers in the 4 state region affected, including Antigua. These supplies were also used by first responders including ANA staff, fire fighters, and military reserves. These face masks and medical supplies are extremely important because of the fine volcanic ash causes respiratory and eye infections/irritations. The Project’s partnership with Direct Relief of Santa Barbara, CA is essential in providing medical supplies.

Sunday, February 8, Project staff along with 75 military reserve soldiers helped clean the Dreamer Center, Casa Jackson, Scheel Center, and the entire Project facilities so that the children would be able to still attend school on Monday since most guardians are single working mothers. Not only is this fine, sulfuric ash dangerous to humans, it breaks down anything mechanical, and contaminates all surfaces. The Project staff and military reserves have been working around the clock to clean all contaminated areas.

The needs of Casa Jackson and our malnourished infants and children were of upmost priority. After consultation with national authorities it was deemed to not move them because the plume cloud would move within three hours of the eruption.

Fuego Volcan is one of Central America’s active volcanos and located approximately 7 miles from the Dreamer Center. This is Fuego’s largest eruption in 3 years.10422575_1075808912444897_6996299653688924266_n

Founded in 1991 by Patrick Atkinson, The GOD'S CHILD Project cares for and educates 5,000 orphaned, abandoned, and poverty-stricken boys and girls in addition to providing health and community-based services for 8,700 widowed, abandoned, and single mothers and their dependents in Guatemala, El Salvador, India, Malawi, and the United States.

There is no need for clothing donations at this time. Water resources have not been affected. However, need for financial contributions to support these efforts are needed. To contribute to these relief efforts visit www.GCPStore.com

Give to the Max Day Results


We had a wonderful first Give to the Max Day! 

Each year, generous supporters celebrate Give to the Max Day by making their online donation on GiveMN.org. The generosity on this day makes a difference far beyond the 24-hour giving event. Their giving has allowed us to do the work we get the privilege to do. We have raised $15,944, being our first year participating in GTMD, we are pretty proud of our success. We wanted to express our sincere gratitude for our supporters and their dedication to GOD’S CHILD.

Although Give to the Max Day is over, our generous donor will continue to match funds through the end of the year. Keep your eyes open for more ways to help GCP and the women & children we serve. More to come! 

THANK YOU for believing in and supporting GCP!

– The GOD'S CHILD Project Team 

Child Crisis Along Southern Border

"There are thousands of innocent lives along the southern border of the United States who need protection now. These are children who need help, guidance and protection from yet another horrible experience that will sentence them to a life of modern day slavery."

Dear GOD'S CHILD Friend,

All of us are deeply concerned about what we are seeing in the news.  More than 100,000 children have rushed across our southern border.  They are fleeing their homes in Guatemala and Central America to "el norte" to find safety and shelter. Sadly, it does not always end that way. Please take a moment to read the recent news article.  

Our response at GCP has been to re-double our efforts in Guatemala to reach more children and provide support and education for families there, so children can grow up and thrive in their homes. 

Please take a moment and donate now to protect children and help families stay together. 

Thank you for your concern and support of The GOD'S CHILD Project!



Patrick Atkinson
Executive Director and Founder

Help Make DAYA Self-Sustaining

DAYA Jul 14

The GOD’S CHILD Project supported program, DAYA (Destitute Aged and Young Association), is seeking to raise $4,000 USD for their new garden that will help feed the children at the home as well as employ the women supported by the program. In Phulbani, Odisha, India, the DAYA Children’s Home has a 2 acre patch of land they plan to use for agricultural purposes, raising a variety of vegetables as well as mango, banana and lemon trees. This will also be income generating as they will grow the ingredients for the newly started pickle project that employs poor women of India. To ensure a successful program they need to have a retaining wall installed around the land to keep the street cows and other animals from eating the produce. The estimated cost to construct a wall around the land is $4,000 USD.

Please support this cause that will assist in making the DAYA program self-sustaining. To know more about DAYA and their program please visit www.dayaindia.org.

Donate Today

*Donations made through this campaign are paid directly to DAYA and all tax deductibilty questions and issuing of tax receipts should be directed to DAYA. You can reach them by email at DAYA@dayaindia.org 

Beverly (Gerhardson) Paulson Memorial Match

Bev Paulson 2One of our most generous supporters, Lloyd Paulson, has stepped up during this traditionally slow time for donations to kick-start summer giving by honoring his late wife Beverly (Gerhardson) Paulson.

Bev was a loving mother and grandmother. She was a volunteer director of the Scandinavian Hjemkomst Festival for 18 years. She was a founding member of the Dollars for Scholars Foundation in Moorhead and other communities. She was also chosen a YWCA Woman of the Year in 1994. She knew the value of an education as do you our wonderful supporters.

DOUBLE THE IMPACT OF YOUR LOVE AND SUPPORT DURING JUNE. Please provide the critical contribution that makes it possible for the Project to sustain life-changing programs around the world and in the USA for over 5,000 boys and girls.

To make your gift count for this match, please go to GCPStore or call us at (701) 255-7956 or (612) 351-8020 to make a credit card donation over the phone.

Thank you and thanks to Lloyd for making it possible for us to continue our work!

Casa Jackson for Malnourished Infants Flee Floodwaters

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE10275525_10152070096542056_1029525236633914084_o

Ron Osterbauer, Director of Operations
The GOD'S CHILD Project
(701) 255-7956

GOD’S CHILD Project’s Casa Jackson for Malnourished Infants Flee Floodwaters

(June 3, 2014)  Flooding from heavy rains have forced the Bismarck-based GOD’S CHILD Project to evacuate Casa Jackson for Malnourished Infants hospital, in Antigua, Guatemala.  Classes are also canceled at the Project’s main Guatemalan campus, the Dreamer Center, so that staff and volunteers can move babies, children, cribs, medicines, and food to a temporary hospital being constructed by Project volunteers behind the Dreamer Center.

Over 8 inches of rain fell within minutes, and several more over the course of the last couple days, filling the streets of Antigua and the surrounding villages.  Municipal water mains broke, and the entire first floor of Casa Jackson, which houses the malnutrition center’s kitchens, offices, doctor’s office, and laundry facilities is filled with contaminated water.  When city water mains began to back up into Casa Jackson, Project executive director Patrick Atkinson ordered the water mains connecting the hospital to the municipal pipes to be severed and sealed, and electrical power shut off.  

The water damage to Casa Jackson is extensive and it is not known if or when the babies will be able to return.  The facility as it is now is uninhabitable and there is contamination.  The children-in-residence at Casa Jackson have weakened immune systems and are extremely vulnerable to airborne and other pollutants. A new building may be our only option at this time.

Casa Jackson was founded by Atkinson in 2006 and is GOD'S CHILD Project's safe haven and recovery center for severely malnourished infants and children in Guatemala. It has become the regional leader in medical care and recovery for malnourished infants and children.  It’s also a favorite of many volunteers and ServiceTeam members.  Terri Brandt, a NICU RN from Bismarck, North Dakota has volunteered at Casa Jackson 5 times and said “If it weren’t for Casa Jackson most of those babies would starve to death.  The parents don’t have the means to feed the children or the education to recognize a failure to thrive.  My heart is just breaking! I want to get on an airplane right now and just do something.  It’s a devastating loss. I’m speechless.”

Landslides from heavy rains have killed at least five people and showers are expected to continue throughout the week.

Emergency financial help for the care of the babies at Casa Jackson is greatly needed. You can donate online at www.GCPStore.com or at The GOD’S CHILD Project office at 721 Memorial Highway in Bismarck, ND. 

Bring Zoie Home

Last Friday our ITEMP team worked all day in tight coordination with the Detroit Police Department on a kidnapped child human trafficking case. Our office received a call from an officer in their department asking for resources to get a kidnapped child home. She went on to explain that Zoie Jackson, 5, was taken from her school by her mentally ill mother, who does not have custody, while her father was in surgery.Zoie Jackson Returns

Over the next couple of days Zoie's mother drove 1,300 miles to Texas attempting to cross the border to Mexico, but was apprehended by authorities before she could complete her plan. Zoie was put in the hands of Child Protective Services and spent days without her father. Desperate for resources, the Detroit Police Department reached out to ITEMP asking for help.

We immediately knew we wanted to bring Zoie Jackson home to her family. This time around fast action brought great results and Zoie was reunited with her father and grandmother! Now we need your help. Please click here to DONATE NOW to fund Zoie Jackson's reunion. Even small donations will help to defer the cost.

Thank your so much for your support of Zoie Jackson and her family. Your contributions, prayers, and support make it possible for us to continue to help children like Zoie.

To see Zoie reunion with her family check out the heart-warming story by WXYZ Action News, click here.

The Robert and Joan Scheel Holiday Match

Bob and Joan ScheelTwo of our most generous supporters, Robert and Joan Scheel, inspired by the fire so many of you have shown this Christmas Season in your support for the children and programs of The GOD’S CHILD Project, are matching up to $150,000 in last-minute donations.

You would put $25 into savings if your company would match it another $25, wouldn’t you? Why not do the same with your support for the Project’s 5,000 boys and girls? Today you have that chance.

Double the impact of your love and support.  Please provide the critical contribution right now that makes it possible for the Project to sustain life-changing programs around the world and in the USA.

To make your gift count for this match, please click here. Thank you for making it possible for us to do the work.

Patrick Atkinson, Founder and Executive Director

The Robert and Joan Scheel  Holiday Match Challenge

The GOD’S CHILD Project   701-255-7956   763-432-7132   www.GodsChild.org

Ruby Tuesday Community GiveBack – Bismarck, ND

Join us for Ruby Tuesday’s Community GiveBack Programs this week on December 10, 11 and 12, 2013 in Bismarck, ND at the 3520 State Street location. 20% of your purchase will be given to The GOD’S CHILD Project. Print out this post or download the Ruby Tuesdays GCP Flyer and show to your server! You MUST have the flyer with you for GCP to receive donations. If you do not have access to a printer, stop by GCP Bismarck Office at 721 Memorial Highway to pick up a copy. See you at Ruby’s!


If you have any questions please contact:

Kristin Clouston

Special Activities Coordinator