History

History

Chris Clark, a fifth-generation missionary raised in Africa, and his wife Debbie, a teacher, felt God calling them to minister to and help children around the world.

In Chris's time as the Youth for Christ regional director, he and Debbie went on a project assignment to Africa. There, they encountered orphans and refugee children in dire need of assistance. Committed to finding help, the Clarks returned to the United States and began searching for an organization that would come to the children’s aid. Sadly, they found none willing to offer help, nor was there an organization who had a sole purpose of providing for the needs of orphans in these areas. Sensing God’s call, in 1995, Chris and Debbie formed the child sponsorship program, Children of the Nations.

Today, COTN serves in the Dominican Republic, Haiti, Malawi, Sierra Leone, and Uganda to provide care for orphaned and destitute children. COTN, through funding primarily from child sponsorship and individual donations, operates homes, schools, farms, skills centers, clinics, and village feeding centers in an effort to provide quality care for our children. COTN is recognized among reputable Christian charities around the world.

Each country office is established as an individual, mission-based, nonprofit organization. Local governing boards oversee local ministry staff in each country. COTN country directors and management committees work closely with staff to provide the best for our children.

From a desire and $300 in 1995, to today--a worldwide movement of people, more than 400 staff, tens of thousands of volunteers, an annual budget of $9 million, and a family that has grown to help thousands of children annually in Africa and the Caribbean--God has done amazing work for our children.

 

Celebrating 20 Years

Milestones

All of these accomplishments are made possible by partners like you!

1995

  • Chris and Debbie Clark visit Africa and meet orphans and refugee children in dire need of assistance. The result: Children of the Nations is founded on a $300 budget.

1996

  • Our first foreign National Board of Directors is set up in Sierra Leone.
  • Our first feeding center begins in the Dominican Republic.

1997

  • COTN purchases land in Marjay Town, on the outskirts of Freetown, Sierra Leone, to establish a children’s home for orphaned children. Our first ever short-term missions team from the U.S. breaks ground.
  • The first COTN Village Partnership Program begins in Algodón, Dominican Republic, focusing on education and nutrition.

1998

  • Our first medical team performs operations in the Dominican Republic.
  • Bill Clark, serving with his wife Pat in Malawi, calls home to his son: “You’ve got to do something for these orphans. Chris, they are in desperate circumstances!”

1999

  • Our first Children’s Homes open in Malawi (Chiwengo) and Sierra Leone (Marjay Town).
  • A Venture team visits the village of Los Robles in the Dominican Republic and soon after, a Village Partnership Program is started there.

2000

  • The first COTN Coin Banks are placed in U.S. businesses to raise funds to feed children.

2001

  • Our first agricultural project begins at Chitipi Farm in Malawi. We open our Chitipi Children’s Home, which houses up to 33 children.
  • Village Partnership Program begins in Mtsiliza Village, Malawi.

2002

  • SmilePacks® are created, allowing individuals to send supplies to children in need.
  • COTN begins a Village Partnership Program in Don Bosco, Dominican Republic, enrolling 80 children.

2003

  • The Ready Relief program is created, giving American schools a way to be prepared for disaster and help fight hunger in the countries COTN serves.
  • Charinson Feliz becomes the first child from Algodón, Dominican Republic, to ever graduate high school.

2004

  • The paramount chief of Upper Banta, Sierra Leone, gifts a 45-acre plot of land to COTN, to develop into a ministry site.
  • Our first Village Partnership Program in Sierra Leone begins in Ngolala.

2005

  • Our medical and dental center opens in Barahona, Dominican Republic.
  • Initial ministry begins at our Banta ministry site in Sierra Leone: a temporary primary school, a medical clinic/malnourishment center, and a skills center.

2006

  • COTN begins a Village Partnership Program in Altagracia, Dominican Republic.
  • COTN purchases 350-acre Chichere Farm in Malawi.

2007

  • Construction completes on the expansion of our Banta Mission Center in Sierra Leone, including permanent school buildings and 10 Children’s Homes. Our 98 children from the Marjay Town Children’s Home are relocated here. The Marjay Town Children’s Home is converted into a community school.
  • Additional Village Partnerships begin in Mokpangumba and Mosenesi in Sierra Leone; Pueblo Nuevo, Dominican Republic; and Mgwayi and Chilombo in Malawi.
  • COTN's first Children’s Home opens in Lira, Uganda, in response to Pastor James Okalo's plea to Chris Clark the previous year.

2008

  • The I Love Baseball® program begins in the Dominican Republic.

2009

  • Precious Ibrahim becomes the first child from our Banta Children’s Homes in Sierra Leone to graduate from secondary school and begin university.
  • Partners help build the first seven homes in the Uganda Children’s Homes. Children move in during the fall.
  • Village Partnership Program begins in Anai-Okii, Uganda.

2010

  • Charinson Feliz of Algodon, Dominican Republic, becomes the first student from a COTN Village Partnership Program to graduate from university, beginning his career as a medical doctor.
  • COTN–Malawi opens a secondary school, and the students name it the COTN International Christian Academy.
  • Partners help complete the first two school buildings at COTN-Uganda, and primary classes begin. 
  • COTN and our partners lend medical and emotional assistance to Haitians after the January earthquake. COTN promises long-term assistance to 13 families.

2011

  • The first-ever COTN school library opens, using books donated by generous partners. It is located in the community of Don Bosco, Dominican Republic.
  • COTN's first African college graduate, Aness Banda of Malawi, receives her diploma.

2012

  • Along with the University of Texas and other partners, COTN establishes public health programs and installs three water purification systems in the Dominican Republic.
  • COTN–Haiti officially welcomes the first 75 children into our first Village Partnership Program in the community of Bellevue.

2013

  • The first-ever class of graduates from the International Christian Academy receives their high school diplomas.
  • Precious Ibrahim of Sierra Leone becomes our first child from our Children's Homes to graduate from university, receiving a bachelor of arts degree from Fourah Bay College in Freetown.

2014

  • COTN's partners around the world respond to the Ebola crisis in Sierra Leone by funding community education efforts, hygiene supply distributions, and the opening of our Orphan Care Center for children who have lost their families to Ebola.

2015

  • Our first Uganda secondary school opens its doors to 67 students.
  • Our first fish ponds in Malawi are constructed and filled. 
  • COTN-Malawi graduate Steven Mizeck becomes COTN’s first missionary in Haiti.