Lightshine was founded by Seattle attorney, Paul Eklund, along with several friends who served on the initial board. Initially, Lightshine worked with orphans in Romania facilitating funds and medical supplies (1990-2003). Eklund also facilitated adoptions in Romania, Russia and China. In 2004 Lightshine started work in Nicaragua with orphans, focusing on teaching reading to illiterate teens. This relationship led to an invitation to work directly with the 27 government-sponsored orphanages in Peru (“Aldeas Infantiles”).
Past and present board members include a tax attorney (Roger Lageschulte); two physicians (Dr. Oscar Bailon and Dr. Rafael Gonzalez-Vizoso); a media expert (Joe Barnes); a Realtor (Ben Eklund), an account executive for Trident Seafoods (Mark Maleng); and the CIO of Costco Wholesale, Inc. (Paul Moulton). In 2005, Moulton urged the board to develop a model orphanage that was ‘sustainable’ and ‘replicable’. Lightshine partnered with a fledgling work in Arequipa, Peru (“Torre Fuerte”) helping the work to grow in numbers and quality. Washington non-profit (“Extended Hands”) was responsible for constructing amazing facilities for this ‘all-girl’ home. Lightshine took the lead to provide funding for education, health care, counseling for emotional damage, and other practical needs of the girls.
In 2007, Lightshine organized an international conference at Pontificia University in Lima, featuring renown child psychologist, Dr. Niels Rygaard (Denmark). Dr. Rygaard is the author of ‘Severe Attachment Disorder in Childhood’ (A Guide to Practical Therapy), translated into Spanish as: “El Nino Abandonado”. More than 300 mental health professionals, physicians, and government administrators attended. Rygaard also trained the staff and caregivers at Torre Fuerte in effective techniques (for house parents).
From 2013- 2015 Lightshine worked with Rotary in Peru, and with Seattle University (engineering) to facilitate ‘clean-water’ projects in the impoverished Manchay region. In 2015, Lightshine expanded to Mexico, developing a relationship with DIF (Desarrollo Integral de la Familia), the government agency providing child protective services. In 2017 Lightshine arranged sponsorship of delegates from Chile, Honduras, Mexico and Peru to attend a training conference in Spain (keynote speaker: Dr. Rygaard). In November 2017 Lightshine was invited by the Peruvian government to meet with members of congress and leadership for child protective services. Our goal for 2018 is to help Peruvians develop a more effective ‘family’ approach towards safeguarding and caring for abandoned children.
Lightshine focuses on saving abandoned children in Latin America. We are training those who oversee orphanages, also providing resources for psychologists and therapists responsible for the treatment of the emotional disorders of institutionalized children. Lightshine’s vision is unique! We bring people together to design healthier environments for orphans. Instead of warehousing children, we work with institutional caregivers to create a family atmosphere so that orphans and street kids have a fighting chance at life!