Orphans First had the privilege of being featured in the online publication Shoutout SoCal (Los Angeles based Voyage Group of Magazines). The following is an excerpt of that interview with Janey, Founder and President of Orphans First.
Read the whole article online at: www.shoutoutsocal.com/meet-janey-demeo-founder-president/
“Hi Janey, can you walk us through the thought-process of starting your business?
I have always been bothered by the suffering of the vulnerable, those who cannot help themselves. I saw a need that no one else was fulfilling: impoverished kids often left to fend for themselves. It bothered me deeply and kept me awake at night. I prayed about it often, and eventually felt compelled to do something. The plight of impoverished children—especially those who are overlooked or who have fallen through the cracks—cannot be ignored. Poverty makes these children very vulnerable, especially in third-world countries where we work. They make easy prey for traffickers. They can often get caught up in stealing, drugs, prostitution and other insalubrious lifestyles because they are not being adequately nurtured and educated. This is not always the fault of relatives, if they have any. It is often simply because the family they were born into and the neighborhood where they live is poverty stricken. And those who live there are uneducated. I simply couldn’t stand to see these kids neglected and hurting. So, with God’s help, Orphans First was born.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
Orphans First is a small non-profit that has reached thousands of kids over the years and significantly impacted their lives so that they can break free from the cycle of poverty. Not every story is a successful one, but most are. And every child in our programs is given a chance for a better future. Many are transformed and live better lives than if we had not helped them. Orphans First stands apart because, although our budget is small, we reach many children who are not receiving help from any other organization. Many kids fall through the cracks because they live in remote areas where help is scarce. When we see a child in need, hopeless really, we can’t ignore him or her and then sleep well at night. So via Orphans First, we created programs to provide for these kids and help them flourish. Safe places where they can be free from the pains of poverty and abuse. There is no greater joy than to see a child who was hurting start to blossom and flourish. Simple really. But it’s not always easy. Sometimes we face daunting challenges.
In Mexico for example, children are not required to go to school if their parents need them to work. Sometimes, kids have been taken out of our program because a relative wants them to work to earn money for the rest of the family. But without attending our programs, we worry that the kids will fall into the trap of drugs and prostitution like so many in their neighborhood. So we try to help the relative see the importance of our programs for the future of the child and even for the betterment of the relatives. We face similar challenges in India.
Also, getting the word out and funding are other challenges we face. We don’t have the income of a larger organization to do big marketing. Nonetheless, we have seen God’s faithfulness to provide. We are always learning how to do things better, particularly technology. But the greatest lesson we are learning is that, as bleak as things can sometimes look, we must remember the miracles we’ve seen along the way—the lives touched and transformed by Orphans First. We must not be discouraged by what we cannot do, but be strengthened by what we can do and have done.
Prayer is key. Orphans First was birthed through prayer. It began as a response to my daily prayers for suffering children around the world. Children’s suffering bothered me so much, I would pray and pray and then one day, voilà. I got the idea to start my own non-profit to reach the unreached kids-at-risk. And a dear friend in France, Michel Ramillon, helped me with the practical details. Orphans First is a non-profit organization helping impoverished children overseas by providing their basic needs: food, clothes, education, medical help, Bible teaching and a loving environment. It is a work of faith and labor of love.”