Can an orphanage transform into something better? The story of Asian Hope will inform and inspire you. Discover what it took for the director of a children’s home to ask hard questions and risk changing direction.
I am an international adoptive parent. I understand deeply the passion, drive, reward, and challenges of bringing a child out of an institution and into a loving life family.
I am also the leader of the humanitarian aid organization, Asian Hope, which was founded to open orphanages in order to give abandoned children a chance at stability, education and a new life.
I came into my position with the impression that orphanages (or children’s homes if we prefer a more gentle expression for the same thing) are a superior tool for rescuing, protecting, and launching vulnerable children into the future. I rationalized that in a best case scenario the orphanage would be a conduit to permanent placement with international families through adoption. Yet, the last six years have challenged and inspired my way of thinking like never before.
Asian Hope began with the premise that we could provide the best possible environment for orphaned and abandoned children to grow up. We even fantasized that our model might be the ideal one: a young, Christian missionary family taking in a group of vulnerable children to raise as their own within the Cambodian culture and remaining committed to them for the long term.… Keep Reading
Yesterday I read about a Cambodian “mother” in Koh Kong who chained up a four-year-old girl in her care for eight hours a day while she went to work. She said it was to protect the girl from drowning or wandering away while she was at work. The girl had been handed over to the woman years ago by her biological mother as collateral for a loan.
When informed of the woman’s arrest, her years of chaining the girl to a post, and the 4-year-old’s move to a children’s shelter, the girl’s biological mother, who lives in Preah Vihear province, said she could not take back and care for her daughter…
The article is about child abuse in Cambodia and an overall lack of concern and awareness. That the girl had been signed over as collateral on a loan wasn’t even central to the story. Variations of that happen all the time, usually involving domestic work in return for food and lodging and, in the best cases, attending school. This was a worst case situation.
After reading about this girl, I turned to another troubling article in The Guardian, Virginity for sale: inside Cambodia’s shocking trade. … Keep Reading
Here’s a story about a family who arrived at their first home in Cambodia and discovered they would be living next to an orphanage.
The story caught my attention, and after a little poking around online, I realized the family lives not far from from me. I’ve often passed by and seen children and volunteers milling around outside and wondered what sort of place it was.
Our family of six first arrived in Phnom Penh at midnight, and some friends drove us to the house we had rented on our survey trip. It’s a row house – ten multi-story dwellings that are connected, side by side.
At daybreak, an orphanage moved in to the house next to us… I didn’t know anything about orphans or orphanages in Cambodia, so I had no preconceived ideas about what it would be like to live next to an orphanage. I would soon learn.
Every orphanage is different, and the one in this story appears to be a bad one. But it’s not atypical of orphanages in Phnom Penh. It was chaotic. Staff were not always around. They had 40 children and the staff living in a space normally used by one extended Cambodian family.… Keep Reading
He saw a boy lying in the middle of the road. What he did next will surprise you and might even change the way you act next time you see a child in need.
Racing round the corner on my way to the meeting a little faster than usual, I thought of all the things I had to do that day. I was showing a visitor around town and I also had my own errands that needed completing. Not far to go, I thought to myself. We’re only a couple of minutes late and we’re nearly there. I’m sure they’ll wait. As we slowed to negotiate a pothole, I looked up ahead and saw that there in the middle of the road lay a little boy, about eleven years old. A car had slowed to edge past him and the boy seemed oblivious – either asleep or unconscious. It was your typical Good Samaritan situation, but I was certainly not in the mood for interruptions. After all, living in Cambodia I came across this type of situation reasonably often. He was probably just a glue-sniffer – wasted and sleeping it off. I sighed, pulled over and stopped. We shook the boy and quickly realised that he was intellectually disabled and didn’t seem able to speak.… Keep Reading