World Villages for Children was established in the UK in 1998.

Our focus is international, and our goal is to end poverty for the world’s most deprived children through the provision of education. We do this by funding live-in schools and day-care centres run by our partners, the Sisters of Mary, for the most disadvantaged boys and girls across the globe.

Girls sitting in a group at assembly

Education is key to ending poverty and creating lasting change

Children can only learn where they are safe and secure. Since 1998, we have contributed to the development of the Sisters’ humanitarian, education programmes. Their highly effective and low-cost programmes are for children of any faith, or none, between the ages of three to 18, and the Sisters bring country expertise, compassion for the poorest children and a deep understanding of the long term impact of poverty on children, families and local communities.

Boys Playing sports

Working closely with our family of independent, affiliated charities in the US and EU, our supporters help us care for and educate the poorest children. There are now almost 20,000 children each year in school places in 13 secondary schools, one elementary school and three day-care centres run by the Sisters of Mary in the Philippines, Mexico, Guatemala, Brazil, Honduras, and most recently Tanzania.

The education is accredited by the authorities in each country and the humanitarian impact of the programmes is well recognised nationally and internationally.

At the schools, the children receive full-time care, regular meals, the comforts of a proper childhood and an extensive vocational education delivered by local teachers and designed to equip the children for local job vacancies. With skills and qualifications, the children find reliable paid work, independence, and a poverty-free future.

Over 150,000 children have graduated from the schools to date. The education and experience at school profoundly improves their employment potential, their lives and the lives of their families and communities.

Timeline

1957

Father Al arrives in Busan, South Korea to begin his missionary work with the destitute orphans and children impoverished by the Korean war.

He dedicates his life to helping the poor and homeless by providing them with the practical help and education they need to find work.

1964

Father Al founds the congregation of the Sisters of Mary - a working catholic order dedicated to helping him in his charity work.

The Sisters, led by Sister Michaela Kim, commit themselves to supporting the mission to provide care and education for any vulnerable child living in extreme poverty.

1968

With the support of friends and donors, the first school opens for impoverished children in Busan, South Korea.

It offers full time care for orphaned boys and girls, a shelter for homeless adults and residential care for babies

1975

At the request of the government, the programmes expand to Seoul.

The new schools provide full time care and education for the most impoverished boys and girls and care for babies. Father Al receives the Korean Presidential Award for charitable services.

1981

Sister Maria Cho joins the Sisters of Mary in South Korea.

Fulfilling a lifetime dream to become a nun and dedicate herself to the care for children she is initially responsible for the poorest orphans.

1983

Father Al is awarded the Ramon Magsaysay Award for Peace and International Understanding in recognition of his charitable work.

In 1984 he is nominated for the Noble Peace Prize.

1985

At the invitation of the then Archbishop of Manila, Jaime Cardinal Sin and the Philippines Government, the first school programmes for boys and girls start in temporary premises in Sta Mesa District of Manila in the Philippines.

August 15th becomes the foundation day for these school programmes in this country.

1990

The Philippine school programme expands to the island of Cebu and a new school opens for Girls in Talisay quickly followed by a school for boys in Minglanilla.

Between 1990 and 2004 the Philippine programmes grow and move into new permanent sites –  Biga in Silang, Cavite for the girls and Adlas, for the boys. The Philippines programmes have a total capacity of 11000 children.

1990

The Bishop of Nezahualcóyotl, Mexico invites the Sisters to establish their charity programmes in Mexico.

In response, the Sisters open a new school in Chalco to address the urgent need for care and vocational education to help the most impoverished girls in that country.

1992

Father Al dies in the Philippines, leaving Sister Michaela Kim of the Sisters of Mary as his successor.

Under her leadership together with the 370 Sisters of Mary, the humanitarian work continues its expansion. Father Al subsequently receives a second nomination for the Noble Peace Prize.

1997

At the request of the Archbishop of Guatemala City and the Guatemalan President, the Sisters of Mary start their programmes in Guatemala.

They also open a medical centre for the poorest in the local community.

1998

World Villages for Children is established in the UK to provide financial support for the expansion of the humanitarian programmes.

The Girls’ school opens in Zona 13, Guatemala City and a school for boys is established in Guadalajara, Mexico. With capacity for 2000 young boys, the facilities provide a safe place to grow and learn for the poorest from the local community.

2000

The programme in Guatemala is completed with a new school for Boys.

The site, which accommodates over 1000 boys, opens in Zona 6, Guatemala City.

2002

The expansion of the programmes continues within the poorest countries of Central America and the first school opens in Brazil.

The girls’ school is built in Brasilia and provides live-in care and an accredited vocational education for 1000 girls.

2004

Programmes are developed to help impoverished young women into work by caring for their youngsters (up to age 5).

These day-care centres are opened in Brazil (Brasilia) and Guatemala City (Zona 21) and in 2004 Mexico (Chalco).

2008

In São Paulo, Brazil an elementary day school for youngsters aged 5-11 is developed as well as a day-care programme for toddlers.

The elementary school provides morning and afternoon teaching sessions to deprived youngsters from the local community, as well as food and medical support.

2012

Honduras is one of the poorest countries in Latin America and a dangerous place for children.

In this year the Sisters of Mary open a school for girls in Tegucigalpa followed by a school for boys in Amarateca in 2018.

2018

The Sisters of Mary are requested to set up their first programme in East Africa.

Work starts on planning and construction of a school for girls in Kisarawe, Pwani Region. The Sisters of Mary are awarded the Korean Red Cross Golden Award for their humanitarian work.

2019

Sister Michaela dies, leaving Sister Maria Cho as the Superior General to continue her work leading the Sisters of Mary and their humanitarian programmes.

The school for girls in Tanzania opens in  August 2019 with further expansion of the programme to a capacity of 1000 through 2020 and 2021.

2022

A new day-care and training centre is planned to open in Tanzania.

The training centre provides vocational and technical instruction to help out of education young women find work and the day-care facility provides care for their children whilst they study and work. Planning begins for a new school for boys in Dodoma.

Father Al and The Sisters of Mary

The humanitarian work of the Sisters of Mary owes its origin to Father Aloysius Schwartz. More affectionately called “Father Al” by those whose lives he touched, he was a champion of the poor and provided a safe home and place to learn for countless deprived children throughout the world.

Born in 1930, Father Al grew up wanting to become a priest and work as a missionary serving the poor, and in 1944 he entered a Seminary. He was ordained as a diocesan priest in 1957 and assigned to Busan, South Korea later that year, where he helped the many orphans and children from the poorest families affected by the Korean war.

Father Al in a group shot with local children

After initially opening orphanages to care for the children of South Korea, Father Al introduced a programme of teaching, providing them with skills to find work and become more independent – and so the education programmes as they are currently known began.

Recognising that he needed help to lead and grow this charitable mission, he founded the religious congregation of the Sisters of Mary to help him serve the poorest of the poor.

Thanks to the financial contributions of his friends and supporters, Father Al built the first schools for Children (known as Villages) in Busan, South Korea in 1968 and following the invitation of the Mayor of Seoul, this programme expanded into that City including the development of hospitals and hospices for the homeless.

Father Al playing a guitar surrounded by Sister of Mary

In 1985, at the invitation of the government, this mission expanded into the Philippines.

In 1989, Father Al was diagnosed with the terminal illness Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS). But despite his deteriorating health, with the help of the Sisters, he went on to establish the first school for Children in Mexico in 1990.

Father Al died at the girlstown in the Philippines in 1992. He named Sister Michaela Kim of the Sisters of Mary as his successor. Under the leadership of Sister Michaela and now Sister Maria Cho, and the 390 Sisters of Mary, Father Al’s mission continued and expanded into Central and South America – first into Guatemala, then Brazil and Honduras.

In 2019, the South Korean programmes were handed back to the state as charity intervention was no longer a need in the country and the resources have been redeployed in the latest programme in Tanzania.

Arturo Mexico

“I shall never have enough words to thank the people who make possible the mission of the Sisters of Mary, as I am the living proof of how their donation can transform lives”

Irenea Philippines

“I’m so grateful for all that I’ve learned in this school. May many many more poor children and their families be helped by World Villages for Children and the Sisters of Mary.”

Luis Guatemala

“Honestly, without the excellent education provided for me by World Villages for Children, I would not be where I am now with my job and my ability to help my family live a better life.”

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