Grow Your Know – January 2016
We have an orphan crisis in our world (143 million+ orphans). Jesus says the poor we’ll always have with us, and that’s likely true about the orphan, but that doesn’t mean we give up trying to reduce the problem. We are God’s hands and feet and He uses us in countless ways to make an impact in the lives of children who are orphaned, abandoned or extremely vulnerable.
A Global Hope volunteer, Renee Miller, shares some insight from a book she recently reviewed called Orphan Justice: How to Care for Orphans Beyond Adopting by Johnny Carr.
In Orphan Justice, Johnny Carr discusses some of the major issues at work that cause children to be orphaned, including poverty, human trafficking and disease. In forming strategies to care for orphans, or even thinking about our own individual role, we cannot ignore these underlying issues.
Below are three of several areas Carr says are important to consider when working in orphan care. Each section includes one way that Global Hope approaches this issue with their mission partners.
Institutional Care and Orphanages
“Man made orphanages for children, but God made the family for children” (Carr, 2013). How can an orphanage provide the necessary enrichment, nurturing environment a child needs to thrive? Orphanages provide adequate shelter, clothing, food and clean water for children to develop physically, but growing up in an orphanage, or any other kind of institutional care, often fails to provide a much needed family system. It is difficult for a child to have adequate social, emotional and cognitive development without the nurturing environment of a family. Orphanages also provide no solution for when a child ages out of institutional care, leaving the child without a permanent support system.
In India, Global Hope partners with Asha Jyothi who takes a different approach to institutional care. The two Children’s Homes Global Hope supports are small, with no more than ten children each. These homes fill not only the physical needs of a child, but provide a family-like environment. Each home has two house moms who nurture these children day in and day out—they become the parents and positive role models. By being a part of Global Hope’s work in India, you are part of helping these children grow up in healthy, nurturing environments.
In developing countries, many parents simply cannot provide basic needs to their children due to their level of poverty. The result is that children are abandoned, dropped off at orphanages, get left at hospitals, or sold into slavery or sex trafficking.
Many of the children Global Hope cares for come from extreme poverty. In Kenya, for example, more than half of the population lives below the poverty line. This puts children at risk for being sold into human trafficking, contracting AIDS/HIV, being subject to neglect and abandonment and so much more.
Global Hope partners with Spring Valley Academy who works right in the middle of a slum area where families struggle every day to feed their family and provide basic care. Instead of taking children away from their family and placing them in an institution (where they would no doubt be better cared for physically), Spring Valley helps these families stay together by providing care for the children during the day. The kids get two meals each day, learn about how to take care of themselves and receive an education. To break the cycle of poverty, we must start with the younger generation. By being a part of Global Hope’s work in Kenya, you are helping give these children hope and purpose for the future.
The concept of foster care is one of the best options for caring for orphans and vulnerable children, other than adoption. Foster care can create a sense of family for the child, while providing for all of their needs. However, many cultures have difficulty buying into the concept of foster care and adoption. It’s proven to be difficult to recruit foster parents, provide funding for them to add a child to their family, and teach them how to parent children with significant trauma histories, but where it has been done, much success has been seen.
In Romania, as an alternative to growing up in one of the state institutional homes, Global Hope provides family-like environments for children who were abandoned. Most of the children have been with the same house parents or foster parents since they were toddlers. As of this writing, several of them have since graduated from High School, gotten married, or are currently in college. By being a part of Global Hope’s work in Romania, you enable Global Hope to support these families long-term so that these kids grow up having a greater chance of becoming successful and self-sufficient adults.
As I write this, I am a foster care case manager at a small nonprofit in Denver, Colorado. I volunteer time with Global Hope and intend to spend the rest of my life working to care for orphans and vulnerable children. I would encourage anyone interested in orphan care to pick up this book. It invigorated the desires my heart – to present the gospel and provide unconditional love for orphans and vulnerable children – and provided ways I can get involved at the local, domestic, and international levels.
I challenge you to take an inventory of how you are using your time to care for orphans and vulnerable children. How are you seeking justice for orphans and vulnerable children worldwide? Pray about how God wants to use you to care for orphans and vulnerable children domestically and internationally.
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