Forgotten Children Worldwide began in 1999, after the co-founders, Matt and Barb Hartsell, were in Russia adopting their second child internationally, when they observed the appalling plight of orphans. Like so many who have adopted or who have traveled internationally, they were moved by the cruel and harsh reality of the lack of essentials that so many of us take for granted on a daily basis. A middle-of-the night prompting by the Holy Spirit, while in Moscow, Russia, confirmed through a series of events, began the journey of assisting orphans. Forgotten Children Worldwide was birthed primarily to provide clothes for orphans.
Mission trips to Romania also served to reinforce the calling to make a difference in the lives of the fatherless, street children, and vulnerable children in general. In addition, God continuously brought to the Hartsell's attention the scores of Bible verses (over 2,000) that address God's compassion and concern for the poor, the needy and the fatherless. "Throw-away children" is not a philosophy or option for a follower of Jesus Christ; His disciples have been commissioned to do something for the most vulnerable. We are called to seek justice on their behalf. God's Word repeatedly mandates, "Seek justice, encourage the oppressed. Defend the cause of the fatherless, plead the case of the widow." Isaiah 1:17
Sensing God's leading to take a step of faith, a clothing ministry was begun. Used clothing was collected and stored in an 8 x 16 closet until a group of volunteers packed and shipped the boxed items to Russia. Today, the clothing portion of the ministry has expanded to an interactive Orphan and Vulnerable Children Exhibit & Packing Center
, located in our 10,000 sq/ft headquarters just north of the downtown in Bluffton, Ind., where clothing is collected, packed and shipped 20,000 pounds at a time to our partners in Ukraine and India.
As the ministry grew, the name was changed to Forgotten Children International and began making monthly sponsorships
available. For less than a dollar a day, just $25 per month, a child is provided an education, clothing, food, shelter, first-aid medical, and spiritual mentoring. As FCI continued to develop, orphan home construction grants
were offered to vetted transnational partners assisting orphans. Orphan home construction grants were provided to construct intimate orphan homes in five countries allowing children the opportunity to receive quality care in a loving environment. Grants to build compassionate orphan homes have been provided in India, Thailand, Kenya, Ukraine, and South Africa. Recently, the direction of FCI has shifted to providing self-sufficiency grants and projects
, making orphan home grants less common.
In 2010, child sponsorships doubled, and FCI began partnering with three new transnational partners
in Uganda. The new partnerships not only opened doors for expansion and growth, but FCI gave it first micro-finance loans and started providing self-sufficiency projects (heifer and chicken farms) for partners to provide for their children's nutritional needs while providing income resources to supplement a bolstered child sponsorship program.
In late 2011, further change and expansion came, as we once again changed our name to Forgotten Children Worldwide in part because of growth and possible trade-marking opportunities in the future. Additionally, FCW moved into its new headquarters, 650 N Main St, Bluffton, Ind
., a former Movie Gallery and auto parts store, made possible by generous donors, whom God graciously provided -- allowing for space for volunteers to work, community groups to meet and a growing staff to collaborate.
Forgotten Children Worldwide continues pressing forward expanding its focus to help prevent child trafficking. With nearly 27 million people today living in sexual slavery or enslaved in what is known as "debt bondage", FCW is striving to both free children currently trapped in this evil practice or prevent it in the first place. We appreciate those who partner with us to make a difference on behalf of the world's 163 million orphans and vulnerable children.