Friends of the Orphans - A Story About Hope and Success in the Midst of Desperation

Raising Children. Transforming Lives.

Children at PH Boliva

On a hot summer day in 1954, a young boy entered a church in Cuernavaca, Mexico. His name was Carlos, and his hunger drove him to steal money from the collection box. Upon Carlos’ arrest and harsh sentence, the newly ordained priest of the church, Fr. William B. Wasson, asked the court to show mercy on the boy. He asked the judge for custody of Carlos so that he could feed, clothe, and provide a home for him. The judge accepted, and throughout the year, sent Father Wasson 32 more boys.

Thus was the beginning of Nuestros Pequeños Hermanos (NPH), Spanish for “ Our Little Brothers and Sisters,” and the later inspiration for Friends of the Orphans, its American fundraising arm created in 1965.

Honduras preschool

Since its creation, Friends of the Orphans has helped NPH raise thousands of orphaned, abandoned, and disadvantaged children in a network of nine homes in Latin America and the Caribbean. Now, after more than 40 years of service, the organization has unveiled a new logo and brand identity to reinforce their commitment to the children of NPH.

“I am thrilled about the message and emotion our fresh identity conveys,” says Sharon Saxelby, President and CEO of Friends of the Orphans. “While our approach remains the same, the new look positions us more prominently to increase awareness and support for the children who so desperately need our help.”

Girls at NPH Haiti

Prior to their arrival at NPH, many of the children were homeless, forced to fend for themselves and scavenge for food. With Friends of the Orphans’ help, NPH brings these children out of the poverty from which they were born and gives them the loving environment they deserve. The healthcare and educational needs of each child are ensured, including the opportunity to complete technical courses or seek a university degree.

Says Saxelby, “It’s truly a hopeful situation which comes out of a desperate one. It’s the inspirational story about what people can do when given the means and the opportunity.”

Juan Manuel

20-year old Juan Manuel Pineda is a great example. He was born with a cleft palette and dental deformities, and when he was two, a fire in his El Salvadorian home led to the amputation of both his legs at the hip. Then at age nine, Juan’s mother died of an ulcer, leaving Juan in a turbulent foster care situation.

After NPH took Juan in and raised him with the help of Friends of the Orphans, Juan’s life was completely transformed. His love of and talent for music became apparent, and he represented the NPH children on many stateside tours singing and playing his guitar.

In addition, thanks to the support of Friends of the Orphans’ loving Chicago “host families,” Juan has traveled frequently to the U.S., where physicians from the University of Illinois at Chicago have worked to correct his medical problems—free of cost. He was also accepted into a program at Shriner’s Hospital in Chicago to correct his cleft palette and get new prosthetics for his growing body.

Boys at NPH Guatemala

But best of all, with the help of a very special group of Chicago supporters, Juan’s musical dream has become a reality. He has written eight songs, both ballad and folk style, to be recorded and distributed to share with the world.

He decided to name the CD El Sonido de Graditud or “The Sound of Gratitude,” to show his appreciation for NPH, Friends of the Orphans, and others who have played a role in helping him fulfill his musical dream.

Juan’s perseverance in the face of enormous challenges demonstrates just how deeply NPH and Friends of the Orphans care for the children. Though this is only one story, NPH has transformed the lives of more than 15,000 children since its inception, and is currently home to more than 3,300.

Emily Elizabeth in Honduras

By updating their logo and overall brand package, Friends of the Orphans hopes to foster increased awareness about their cause in order to help others like Juan Manuel.

Finished Saxelby, “There’s a tremendous “ripple effect” that occurs when Friends of the Orphans staff, supporters, and even the children themselves come together to reach the goals of NPH. By donating time or money to Friends of the Orphans, you are helping us raise these kids—and continue the wonderful “ripple effect.”

She continued, “As Fr. Wasson once said, ‘You may only be one person in the world, but you may be all the world to one child.’”

More information about Juan’s story and his songs can be found by visiting For more information about Friends of the Orphans and how to donate, visit

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