Tag: We Can Do Better
One day an experienced Christian worker picked up the phone to call a young woman who was planning to open an orphanage in Haiti. This is what she said.
Over the past two years, I have had the privilege of leading multiple teams overseas with World Orphans. Part of my job that I love is getting to educate and teach team members what the Bible says about orphan care, about our role and responsibility in tackling orphan-causing issues, and about the various models of orphan care that other organizations employ.
I have noticed in the past decade or so that God is doing an amazing work in the hearts of His people in regards to orphan care. The Church is finally starting to rise up and carry out the mandate in Scripture to rescue and care for the fatherless, widows, and the poor around the world. Social media, the Internet, photography and video, and the ease of travel in this day and age have only increased our awareness of the orphan crisis and extreme levels of poverty in the majority world.
I am excited that we are finally starting to respond; however, I feel a huge burden to speak into a particular issue that I have come across time and again while working with individuals along the way.… Keep Reading
Read about one man’s journey on behalf of orphans and vulnerable children, including stories you won’t forget. Will you join in the change that’s coming?
I heard a story from a man I was training in Myanmar. A number of years before, when his parents were visiting a rural village, his mother happened to use a pit toilet shared by the community. Inside she heard a tiny muffled noise that reminded her of a baby’s cry. The only place it could have come from was down the hole, so she put her arm inside and brought out a newly born baby. The baby must have been in there for some minutes; no one really knew how long. The unknown mother had tried to kill the child, presumably due to shame. Everyone agreed the baby should go to an orphanage.
We’ll come back to this story, but first let me tell you how I came to be delivering training in Myanmar in the first place.
First, an observation: Orphanages are still the default solution for orphans and abandoned children in poor communities throughout the developing world.
Having worked as a social worker in the United Kingdom for many years, in Child Protection and Adoption/Fostering, I had often wondered if the services we developed for children and families would be valid and effective in developing countries.… Keep Reading
A sometimes mind-blowing firsthand account of an ambitious attempt to improve the care of orphaned and vulnerable children in Uganda.
It started in a cramped government office in Kampala
There are at least 50,000 children in residential care in the Uganda, a huge number by any standard. Uganda has been called the NGO capital of the world, and while some of these organizations are doing tremendous work, in 2011 it was just a handful of us gathered in a cramped government office in Kampala to talk about alternative care for children outside of parental care. Alternative care refers to practices designed to keep children, as much as possible, in families and communities rather than putting them in residential care. That first day we had no handle on who was doing what, why, and where.
Three years later and we have made significant progress, and I give the government immense credit for being passionate and pushing for change! The result was “The Alternative Care Framework,” guidelines for working with children outside of parental care with a strong emphasis on family preservation and reintegration of children back into families. These guidelines have potential to improve the lives of children and families throughout Uganda.… Keep Reading
This inspiring story of working with childcare institutions in Uganda to resettle children and prevent family separation will encourage you and surprise you. We really can see changes that improve the lives of children and families even in the most vulnerable situations.
Teddy and David are the newest residents in Emergency Housing at Abide Family Center. They were referred by a local orphanage whose director has decided to partner with us. Our shared goal is to keep children out of the orphanage and with their own families as often as possible.
I help run Abide Family Center, a NGO working on family preservation located in Bugembe in Jinja, Uganda. Someone told me recently that Jinja has the highest number of orphanages per capita in the world, which didn’t surprise me. My own impression is that I hear about a new orphanage being started almost every week.
Jinja is a nice place to live. We’re two hours from Kampala, Uganda’s capital. We live between lush, rolling green hills and the source of the Nile River on the shores of Lake Victoria (and it’s seriously beautiful). You can go to the pool, sip a latte in a café, and “rescue” poor children from poor families by placing them in a state-of-the-art orphanage in the afternoon—all in a day’s “work!”
I have, in the past, treated orphanages as the enemy.… Keep Reading
You may be surprised at all you didn’t know about orphans and orphanages after watching this eye-opening video made in Cambodia. Many people after watching this video agree it’s time to change our methods of caring for vulnerable children in the poorest places around the world.
Does it surprise you that eighty-percent of children living in orphanages worldwide have at least a living father or a mother? Research shows the majority of children in orphanages are there because of poverty.
It’s relatively easy to open an orphanage and fill it with kids. If you promise clothing, food, and an education, they will come, orphans or not.
It’s harder to restore families. You have to put in time to build relationships with the parents and community leaders. You need a team that includes qualified locals who can help families solve problems themselves, rather than relying on your resources to pay for quick solutions.
It’s much easier to start an orphanage. So why bother to support mothers and restore families instead?
Too many times, the Western church, our solution has been to go and build an orphanage, and we’ve come up short by doing that. We’ve done something good, but we’ve not done the best.
Don’t miss this short video featuring Johnny Carr, author of Orphan Justice. He’s very sensitive and kind with his words, but these are serious matters. Our choices, even when we’re sincerely trying to help, sometimes have unintended negative effects that impact vulnerable children and families in ways we didn’t anticipate — even tearing families apart. If we can do better, let’s not dwell on the past but figure out how to make the needed changes.
Closing orphanages doesn’t sum up what we’re about. We’re must more interested in orphanages transforming themselves! After all closing orphanages (the right way) is very hard work. It would be best to put that energy into creating something better for children and families.
In Cambodia the law states that orphanages should make every effort to keep children in their own families or place them with relatives. If that’s not possible, the law calls for adoption within Cambodia or placing children with a foster family. Residential care is only meant to be a last and temporary resort. If residential institutions in Cambodia took these sound principles as a mandate, and hired social workers and trained them accordingly, most would have fewer and fewer children in their care. Eventually they would only be caring for children with no other options. That doesn’t mean they would have to disappear. They might find themselves supporting networks of families and many more vulnerable children than they could in residential care. And they would eventually leave behind a powerful legacy of restored families and better functioning communities!
Not that we’re opposed to closing orphanages when they allow the neglect and abuse of children.
Recently, several orphanages in Cambodia have been closed for reasons ranging from serious neglect to exploitation and abuse.… Keep Reading
What would be better than building orphanages in developing countries? You might be surprised at how many alternatives would be better, starting with grandma if we’d give her a chance.
Imagine a grandmother. She is raising three grandchildren and struggles to feed them. They need uniforms and books to attend school, so she scrapes together enough money to send one. Then her neighbor tells her about an orphanage where the children are never in want and says it will be in the children’s best interests to send them there.
What will she do? She feels unfit by comparison. She resists, but one day when there is not enough rice for dinner, she gives in and takes them. The children grow up in the children’s home well fed and attending school, but in time they become distant. They are uncomfortable in their grandmother’s home; they even feel awkward visiting their former friends and community. There is no mattress to sleep on, the food is different, and the neighbors treat them with a mixture of disdain and envy.
At the orphanage volunteers come and go in a steady stream, and there is hardly a dull moment. It’s like another world. And then one day it’s time to leave.… Keep Reading