Founded in 1959 as International Orphans, Inc., Childhelp is one of the largest non-profit child abuse prevention and treatment organizations in the nation. Today, its founders, Yvonne Fedderson and Sara O’Meara, join Dhomonique Murphy to talk about what their organization is doing and the auxiliaries they are starting up in all of the states. They also touch on their book called Silence Broken and share some stories featured in it.
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Childhelp: Breaking The Silence With Yvonne Fedderson And Sara O’Meara
I have a special treat for you. I have the Founders of Childhelp, Yvonne Fedderson and Sara O’Meara. This is such an exciting day for me. These two ladies are the epitome of selfless. They are incredible. They are kind. They’re background? They are Hollywood actresses. They found their calling through the mission of God’s work and are helping children everywhere around the globe. The story started in Southeast Asia. They were there. They helped eleven children that were mixed-blood orphans and that’s how it started. It grew into an organization called Childhelp, which is the number one largest nonprofit in the world focused on children that have been abused. Ladies, welcome. Thank you for being here and thank you for the work you’re doing. You are making a huge difference in what you do and what your team does is needed. We want to talk about a lot of projects you guys have going on. Let’s start first talking about the auxiliary.
We have chapters in many of our states where we have programs, but we also are starting up auxiliaries in all of the states because we’ve had many phone calls from people that say, “I want to help Childhelp because we have some schools that we’d like to have your program in our subprogram. We have our hotline in all the different states.” They want to help in some way and we’re going to call it an auxiliary. If people are interested in joining an auxiliary or putting together an auxiliary in their state, please call us at (480) 922-8212.
For folks who are joining us and this is the first time on the show that they’ve heard from the two of you, tell us what Childhelp is and what the organization with the nonprofit does.
Childhelp helps in all the areas of child abuse. Prevention, treatment, and we even do research too. We take care of abused children through many methods, foster care, group homes, residential treatment facilities. We have Childhelp’s national child abuse hotline, which is in every single state in the United States plus Canada, also texting that goes with that. We have a prevention program called Speak Up Be Safe. If anybody is reading and want to do something in their area, then they can help us by raising money for the child abuse hotline. It’s $10 a call. That means when you give $10, you’re helping to save a child from a terrible situation and we have the prevention program in schools. This is how the auxiliaries work in order to raise money that will help children in their area and it is wonderful to do.
We need as much help as we can get because then we can help more children. There are many children out there who need our help.
Oftentimes, from what I’ve heard people say, “I don’t have $100 or $1,000 to give.” You can save a life with $10, $20, 2 lives, $50, 5 lives. It’s something that every single person reading this can do.
Even children have raised money in different ways. They have lemonade sales, they’ve done some unique things because they too care and it’s good to teach children about giving back from an early age. They feel good about that and in themselves that they’re reaching out to help someone less fortunate than they. It’s a wonderful thing to be able to do.
Let’s talk now about your book Silence Broken. Tell me about it.
Silence Broken was written many years ago. We had a movie done after that on Lifetime and about our story. It’s the history of Childhelp on how we began in Japan, Vietnam, and helping the abused children here.
Also, actual stories of the abused children that we have been able to help and change their lives.
If folks want to purchase this book, how do they go about doing that?
They can get it on Amazon and on Kindle as well.
Can you tell me one of the stories of one of the children featured in this book?
A story that we’ll never forget, there was a little boy that was brought to the village and they said that he had been in 30 different foster homes. The reason he was not kept in a home is that he refused to talk. This little boy had seen his sister killed in front of his eyes and he became mute. The foster parents would become frustrated because they knew he had vocal cords and could speak, but they couldn’t get him to talk. He ended up at our village and we had a speech therapist that said, “I can get this little boy to talk,” but she couldn’t. We have an animal program where we have horses, ponies, goats and llamas. The man that heads up the program said, “Let me try something.” He told this little boy about one of the ponies and he said, “Chocolate is going to be yours, but you have to take care of Chocolate. You have to ride him, curry him, and be his keeper.” This little boy would get up bright and early every morning and run down to the barn and he would curry the pony, walking, petting. Within a week, he put his arms around the pony’s neck and said, “I love you,” and it broke his silence.
Animals are wonderful. We have all kinds of animals because they’re good for their therapy. Horses are particularly wonderful because there’s something about a horse. When they put the hands of a child on their neck and around their bodies, they get healed and it connects with their mind some way. It helps the children.
We were shocked at that one of our therapists told us how healing horses are.
This story is in the book also. We had a little boy and a little girl, and when they arrived, we happened to be there at the village. They had been living with pit bulls in a cage. When they arrived, they were scared, pitiful, and we would go down to see them. The children were like, “Stay away from him. He bites.” He didn’t know any different. He wasn’t taught to talk or anything. He would take his food. They would sit at the table because we teach them how to sit at the table and use the right fork and knife. He didn’t know anything about a fork or a knife. He would take his food in his hands, get down on the floor, and they’d have to lift him back up in his chair.
It was quite a process to work with him. Our staff was phenomenal with them, turned their lives around and they were able to move out in a few years into a foster home. I understand that they did well, but it was pitiful when they arrived. Another thing, while they were in the village, they were in the Christmas show, because our children put on a Christmas program every year. This was six months later that we saw him in this Christmas play. It was exciting for us because we had seen him the first day when he arrived and there he was up on stage playing an angel and singing. We couldn’t believe it, in six months how he had changed.
I wish our readers could see your eyes because the passion is apparent, beautiful, and I can tell you’ve lived this. There’s a difference between having a nonprofit and living it and you two live it. Thank you for what you do. You have changed the world and you continue to change it every day.
We appreciate what you do. God bless you.
God bless you as well. Thank you for your time.