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Happy 5th Birthday Aura’s House! Happy 16th Birthday Aura Hernandez!

29 June 2009 4 Comments
Aura when I started sponsoring her at age 9. Look at those cheeks!

Aura (age 9). Look at those cheeks!

Happy Birthday Aura’s House!

Unbelievable. Aura’s House, the online project, is five years old on June 30, 2009.  It was first launched on this day back in 2004 as a humble web page with one simple (but daunting) goal: to raise $4500 to build a safe, sturdy brick home for my sponsored child Aura Yesenia Solis Hernandez (age 10 at the time) and her family of Guatemala. See Aura’s family’s NEW HOME!
See their old house.

Site’s History and Partners

The old mud house and their new home (2005) before they added the final touches.

Old and new. (2005)

Never having ever participated in so much as a bake-sale before this project, I dutifully contacted, bugged, pestered everyone I knew.  After about 5 months, it was done. $4500 raised, plus $500 for furniture and $700 for Aura’s school. Way more than I could have imagined.

Thanks to Anastasia Yecke (the first donor at the site whom I didn’t already know), she convinced me to keep the site going so we could raise more funds for needy families around the world. Today I have five wonderful and amazing partners who make this site possible: Anastasia Yecke, Mike Epler (whom I met while volunteering in Tanzania), Christina Sidoti (my former web student at William Paterson University in NJ.), Heather LaBonte Efthymiou (an amazing volunteer turned partner), and Courtenay Honeycut (one of our first donors turned partner.)  I seriously would have burned out a long time ago without them and without our wonderful supporters. THANK YOU so much for all you do.

In 2006 when Anastasia and I visited Aura and her family in Guatemala, we learned that her birthday is actually June 30 as well! (My updates from Children International always said June 6th on them.)  So, by coincidence perhaps, this site is 5 years old and  Ms. Aura Hernandez is Sweet Sixteen.  Thanks to your most recent donations, she is now attending high school to earn a teaching certificate that will allow her to teach elementary school in her village. View this recent project.

Aura (age 15) attending school

Aura (age 15) attending school (2009)

What has Aura’s House done in 5 years? Well…

  • To date: raised close to $62,000 for needy families.
  • Built and furnished one home in Guatemala and two in Honduras.
  • Furnished a school with desks in Guatemala
  • Inspired “Sponsorthon” at Children International which is now the Lift One Project.
  • Built a well for a village in India
  • Sent over 20 children to school in Zambia who otherwise would have had to stay home.
  • Provided beds, furniture, household equipment, and food supplies to 21 needy families in Guatemala, Honduras, the Dominican Republic, India, the Philippines, Zambia, Mexico, Ecuador, and Honduras.
  • Built and equipped a badly needed classroom for an elementary school in the Philippines.
  • Furnished a school in Kenya with desks, books, supplies, and lab equipment.
  • Created an income generation/food supply/ agriculture education  project for The Cape Coast School for the Deaf in Ghana.
  • Sent Aura Hernandez to high school so she can become an elementary school teacher.
  • Provided beds for 43 needy families in Guatemala who otherwise would be sleeping on the floor.
  • Built a badly needed roof for Lesly and family of Guatemala.
  • Raised funds for four income generation projects in the Philippines, India, and Guatemala.
  • Worked with the non profit organizations: Children International, Kenya Kids inNeed, The American University of Rome, The UN’s Food and Agricultural Organization, and Child Focus Fund.
  • Currently has 6 active projects to help provide income generation businesses and supplies to needy families in Guatemala, Honduras, Colombia, Ecuador, and Zambia.
Children for the Sto. Nino Elementary School in Manila thanking Aura's House donors for raising funds for a new classroom.

Children from the Sto. Nino Elementary School in the Philippines thanking Aura's House donors for raising funds for a new classroom. (2006.)

Help us celebrate!

Please consider donating as little as $5 to one or more of our active projects. It is only through the accumulation of small donations from normal, every day people that have enabled us to help so many needy families around the world. We may not be Bill Gates or Oprah, but we can all do our small part to make the world a little better for those trying to overcome extreme poverty. Consider helping a family who will never be able to repay you.

You can also email this article to five of your friends or post a link to us on Facebook, MySpace, or Twitter.

Thanks so much! Happy Birthday Aura’s House and Happy Birthday Aura!

Best wishes,

Kristen Palana
Founder of Aura’s House

Members of the Rojas Family after learning they were getting a new house thanks to Aura's House donors. (2005)

Members of the Rojas Family of Honduras after learning they were getting a new house. (2005)

Happy Birthday!

Happy Birthday!


  • Anastasia said:

    Wow, I can’t believe it’s been half a decade already! Part of me feels like it’s flown by; the other part feels like it’s been forever (in a good way!). I’m so thankful to Kristen for starting the site, to all the partners who now participate, and the wonderful folks at Children International who have been behind us all the way.

    As Kristen said, we may not be Bill Gates or Oprah, but with $61,957 raised to date, and every penny of it going to help needy children around the world, we’re nothing to sneeze at! 🙂



  • Christina Sidoti said:

    Happy Birthday, Aura’s House! Happy birthday to Aura Hernandez, too.

    A big thank you to Kristen for starting this site and for letting me be a part of it. Thanks to all the partners for their hard work and caring. Thank you to all of the site patrons and donors who keep us going.


  • Shana said:

    It is wonderful to celebrate all of Aura’s House accomplishments. I really appreciate the time when everyone pitched in to help raise money for 2 of my sponsored children from Zambia. Keep up the great work and thank you!


  • maria Guido said:

    Thank you All at Aura House for your help to raise the money for my sponsored child Maria Antonia in Guatemala. Thank you for helping children in needs, you are doing amazing work!! God bless you all at Aura House. Thank you so much!!

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