Hand in Hand Ministries
In November of 1994, Hand in Hand Ministries co-founder Wayne Fowler visited Kingston, Jamaica, and his experiences there forever transformed his life. Taking a short holiday from his teaching job, he traveled to Kingston to visit an orphanage for handicapped and abandoned children. It was his first trip out of the United States, and it not only changed the way he looked at himself but his country and the world. It was not only the children and the condition of the orphanage that greatly affected him, it was the tens of thousands of children and families living in hovels made of zinc, cardboard and found pieces of wood that wouldn’t pass for a doghouse in the United States.
Wayne and his brother, the Rev. Joseph Fowler, began helping in small ways until January 1997 when he led a group of 29 people to Kingston to do construction and medical work. Several weeks after the group returned, they had a potluck dinner where they shared stories and photos of their trip, and 75 or 80 people showed up. People who’d made the trip were so excited that they’d brought their spouses, family and friends to share in their experience.
In many ways, that was the birth of Hand in Hand Ministries.
Fowler left teaching and on July 1, 1997 began working full time to serve the poor in Central America and the Caribbean. Hand in Hand Ministries was subsequently incorporated in August of 1999.
Building for Change
Hand in Hand Ministries will soon build its 200th home for the poor in Belize City. The program began slowly in 2002, building only a handful each year, but has grown substantially.
Hand in Hand not only builds a home for a family but provides them with life-skills classes on topics such as hygiene, personal finances and parenting. It is our hope that a long-term commitment will yield a lifetime of hope and a better future.
Hand In Hand Ministries Outreach Center
The Outreach Center is a combination day treatment center and outreach program for children marginalized by poverty and disease.
The Hand in Hand Outreach Center was the first and is the only facility of its type and currently 24 children attend the day treatment center and our staff cares for families in our outreach program. Hand in Hand provides medicine for the children who need treatment, two nutritious meals a day, a structured day in a clean environment and, sadly, more love and attention than most will receive in their homes.
Education is a key to helping raise a person and a nation out of poverty and into self-sufficiency. To that end, Hand in Hand Ministries currently offers 30 scholarships for at-risk students, 15 to high school and 15 to college students.
Pathway to Change
In January 2006, Hand in Hand started the Pathway to Change Program. It is a scholarship program for children from poor families in Managua, giving them an opportunity to get an excellent education and break the cycle of poverty in which their families are trapped. Forty-five percent of children starting school in grade one in the public school system are no longer in school by the fourth grade. Experts agree that the surest way to escape poverty is through a quality education.
Hand in Hand covers the cost for selected children to attend good schools and local staff “Family Coordinators” continuously work with the families, schools and the children as part of the education process. Hand in Hand also provides the children with breakfast and mid-morning snacks, transportation, uniforms, supplies, school books and medical help. The families pay a monthly fee and fulfill other requirements to maintain their eligibility for the program.
In 2012, 69 children are enrolled in three high-quality schools in Managua with plans to increase the number of children enrolled in the program to 75 in 2013.
Home Repair and Construction Program
Starting in January 2001, Hand in Hand has regularly hosted immersion trips to Nicaragua. Using the resources provided by visiting immersion groups, Hand in Hand assists poor people in Nicaragua by improving their living conditions. With 80% of Nicaraguans surviving on $2 or less a day, it is no surprise to see hundreds of thousands of people living in vastly inadequate conditions. Immersion groups are an important part of taking a family out of a shack and enabling them to live in a decent home.
Facilitating Medical Mission Teams
Since 2009 Hand in Hand has been hosting visiting medical teams and individuals on a regular basis, guiding them through the approval process and enabling them to give much-needed medical services and supplies to a number of public and private medical facilities in Managua.
The Auxier Center became a part of Hand in Hand on January 1, 2007 and has raised funds to repair and update the existing facilities – which include a former school and an adjacent building.
The primary goal of The Auxier Center is to bring Appalachia into the 21st Century by providing free computers to those who complete the center’s computer course. In 2011, the Auxier Center delivered more than $500,000 in food, clothing, furniture, toys and the basic necessities to families in Appalachia.
Hand in Hand Ministries volunteers made 22 immersion trips to Appalachia in 2011 and have scheduled 25 for 2012.
The Auxier Center’s programs include:
Home Repair Program
• Repair trailers, homes and build wheelchair ramps
• Over 400 volunteers worked more than 10,000 hours each year
• Provided hundreds of families with clothing, bedding, baby items, furniture, etc.
• Distributed food to over 400 families
Spring and Fall Classes
• Educated adults in the basic computer classes, quilting, sewing, healthy cooking and other life’s skills classes
Kids Summer Camps
• Hosted children for various activities each summer
Computer Give Away
• Distribute computers to low-income adults and children in West Virginia and Kentucky and offered free computer repair to families in need.
• Provided a free library for the community with hundreds of books donated to HHM and organized by volunteers.
The Auxier Center donated books and supplies to several other local organizations.