Formed in 2002 as a registered 501(c)3, FOCE currently has two primary functions. First, FOCE is responsible for all stateside fundraising efforts, providing about 80% of the necessary funding for Casa Bernabé. Secondly, to oversee the future and stability of Casa Bernabé, FOCE acts as an advisory board for FUNPRONI, the governing board of Casa Bernabé. Through your support and partnership over the years, Casa Bernabé has been empowered to care for hundreds of children, restoring families, and transforming orphan care in Guatemala. Their ministry has grown to include a school, medical clinic, vocational training, and post-placement care and support for the children.
It all started when…
Wally and Mary Sharp, from the United States, came to Guatemala in 1982 during the devastating civil war. They partnered with the Verbo church to open a home for abandoned and orphaned children. The first home was established in Antigua and 2 years later moved to the small town of Palin, outside Guatemala City. They worked officially under the name of FUNPRONI, (Foundation for the protection of the Orphan Child) and named the orphanage Casa Bernabé (House of Comfort).
The orphanage moved to a donated, larger piece of property where Casa Bernabé now exists outside the capital city. Temporary trailers were brought in to house children and staff and a multi purpose building was constructed by volunteers from the US and local Verbo churches.
During the early 1990’s the orphanage went through difficult times, and nearly closed their doors due to lack of funding and staff. Pedro and Donie Hernandez had been directing a similar ministry, Casa Samuel, at that time and became directors to help keep the doors open.
Many Christian work teams, families and individuals have paid their own way and come over the years to help make Casa Bernabé what it is today, along with hundreds of sponsors and donors. Separate houses now exist where trailers once were. Steadily the orphan population grew as God provided staff and funding. In 1996, Casa Bernabé started their own school taught by a professional staff of teachers. The school now provides education for the children living at Casa Bernabé as well as students from the surrounding community.
In 2002 Friends of Children everywhere (FOCE) was formed to take over stateside fundraising. FOCE consists of approximately 15 volunteer board members who are devoted Christians. They assist by raising funds and oversee the future and stability of Casa Bernabé through leadership in their 501(c)3 not for profit organization.
Casa Bernabé has cared for hundreds of children since it opened its doors as an orphanage. Over the past 30 years some of these children have been able to return to their families. Others have been adopted by families in Guatemala,United States, Honduras, Mexico and Canada. For others, Casa Bernabé is their permanent home until they turn 18. A transition program has recently been implemented to assist the challenge of safely merging into adulthood through education and job skills. There are several staff members now teaching, caring and working at the orphanage who grew up at Casa Bernabé. Everyday is a witness to the loving, miraculous provision of God and His gentle healing power in the lives of these children.