What happens afterwards?

Once you are out, it’s usually very difficult to ask for help again.

People who have gone through difficult times try to overcome them. For them, it is especially important to be in the present, in the “here and now” instead of in the past. Almost all of Padre Wasson’s “children” have gone through a sad history. This story even connects them to each other. But it belongs to the past and Padre Wasson motivated his protégés by helping them overcome their self-pity. He called this “pobre de mi” / “poor little me” (“oh, poor me”).

His method was community: newcomers were welcomed by their peers, and the young people who had been with him longer took over this task. “Yes you are sad, we understand. We understand that you miss your mother. We all miss our parents. But now we have each other and this new family.” The healing power of this community already impressed Erich Fromm.

But where is this community today? Children in the Family Children’s Villages are no longer classic orphans. They are assigned by the social authorities for many reasons. The family “Our little sisters and brothers” often has no influence on the length of time a child stays there until he can (hopefully) return to the family. His absolute refusal to adopt “his” children could not be enforced everywhere today by Padre Wasson.

Currently, more than half of the children who benefit from Our Little Sisters and Brothers programs live with their biological families.

UNICEF recognized back in the 1990s that children get the best development in small families. So the pillar of security at NPH, of unconditional acceptance (“here is your new family and you will never be sent away”) is crumbling from the outside. But also from the inside, it is getting harder and harder to follow such absolute criteria.

Without a doubt, the personal well-being of each child is still the focus of “Our Little Sisters and Brothers,” and rightly so. This was Padre Wasson’s insight and also a decades-long important evolution. Today, the organization continues to integrate all children into the extended family, whether they live in one of its facilities or with their family. In many places, this works amazingly well and the children are happy and also proud to be a part of this special family.

But what about when the support of “Our Little Sisters and Brothers” ends? There is a great intention to be a loving family to the young adults as they start their own lives. The educational team of NPH International has formulated clear processes, and in each country, responsible persons have also been designated. However, for various reasons, this does not always work out. Lack of money and bureaucratic structures on the side of the organization, shame, defiance, or envy on the side of the young adults – there are many hurdles to overcome.

The executive director of the International organization describes the work with the “Hermanas y Hermanos Mayores” (Big Sisters and Brothers) simply as “muy complicado” and repeats: it is very complicated. He, himself a “Big Brother” in the family.

Padre Wasson liked to bring complicated family issues down to a common denominator: what would “normal” parents do? And parents quickly have the answer: “we don’t abandon our child”. And that’s exactly what makes NPH special: the children don’t stay until their 18th birthday, but until they are ready to stand on their own two feet. But this step into their own lives is accompanied by the individual facilities of “Our Little Sisters and Brothers” certainly with different approaches (and budgets).

The Padre Wasson Foundation is in contact with precisely these independent adults. We strengthen in them and in their children the sense of belonging, that they are part of the huge family that Padre Wasson once created. We advise and support their social initiatives because in them lives the philosophy of Padre Wasson. These initiatives save other alumni from poverty or help them overcome it. The goal is to harness the benefits of this international community. The Padre Wasson Foundation can fill an important gap here.

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Stories of success and happiness

Our older siblings tell us how their succeeded in overcoming unimaginable challenges.

More education

Extended family

A computational experiment: The organization “Our little sisters and brothers” has counted that since 1954 “over 20,000” children have grown up in the children’s villages of the big family…


For the Padre Wasson Foundation, 2021 was already quite a whirlwind start on many levels. At the same time, our mentees are particularly important for our work...

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Padre Wasson always promoted sharing with those in need and hated bureaucratic structures. He acted. One of his mottos was “do it now!” 

Meet the rest of the family…


The Foundation Council (Board of trustees) usually meet every three month, and more often if necessary. In year one we were able to set the foundation’s goals, worked on many issues, expressed our solidarity…


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Padre Wasson

Born on December 21, 1923 in Phoenix, Arizona, Fr. William Wasson was always concerned with the needs of the poor. He received his MA in law and social sciences at San Luis Rey University, Santa Barbara, California. He then traveled to Mexico…


The idea of the Padre Wasson Foundation developed since the anniversary of Padre Wasson’s passing in August 2020. On his birthday in December 2020, his friends and benefactors Traudel & Gerd Graefe started the foundation…

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