It Costs Less to Provide BETTER Orphan Care OUTSIDE Than INSIDE an Orphanage
Several years ago, we discovered a new method of orphan care that has now become our flagship method. We started this new method of Orphan Care in response to what we believe was a revelation from God. Since then, we have seen that child development research from top academic institutions like Harvard and the University of California have supported the method.
With this new method, we help put orphans in the homes of local families who are willing to love and care for them as their own children.
Partnership with local families and the local church.
These families are all able to provide food, accommodation and love the child. For families who cannot afford the child’s additional needs such as tuition, medical care, books, school uniforms, and clothing–but are able provide food, accommodation, love and family–we help provide these things. The help we provide to the children living with these families is also provided to all the children living in the orphanage. But in addition to them, children living in the orphanage need us to provide food, hire staff, have to build buildings for accommodation, obtain government licenses etc. to keep children in the orphanage.
In essence, we formed a partnership with the local people where we are using local resources to help solve the problem of orphans which is a local problem.
A few families actually offered to provide all of the children’s needs. The excitement from the community for the program amazed us. For years, the community members acted as though they weren’t interested in the orphans in their own community. But when we invited them to participate, they jumped in.
This has inspired and galvanized the local church to do more.
Many local Christians are finding new ways to exercise their faith by serving the poor to the extent that they have never done before. As a result, their faith is growing tremendously. Many are now more active in their local churches and participating in other areas of discipleship and poverty alleviation through the local churches in their communities.
We called this program, the”Foster Care Program”. However, I think that’s not a good name for it. We should be changing it soon. Why is it not a good name for it? In many local African societies, the word for adoption as we know it in the West doesn’t even exist in their languages. People don’t know the concept. However, they have proverbs and sayings such as this:
“There is only one mother and one father” and “There is only one child”.
What these proverbs mean is that, parents should treat all children as though they were their own. In the same way, children ought to treat all older men and women as though they were their parents.
In this kind of culture, we don’t have to try to teach them adoption or get them to go to the courts to sign adoption papers in order to put children in permanent families. I think the only reason why the courts and constitutions in these developing countries even know adoption (as we in the West do) is because they were fashioned after western documents from their colonial masters.
What we do when we work with them is to appeal to the the Bible, their Christian faith and calling, and local proverbs like, “there is only one child“.
Lessons we learned from this new amazing model of serving orphans.
1) It costs about ten times more to keep a child in an orphanage than to put the same child in a local family that loves and cares for them.
2) Local families provide much better care than any orphanage could ever do. In a large orphanage of 85 kids like we used to have, it’s impossible to provide the love, stimulation and time with loving parents that each individual child needs.
3) Children do better inside loving families than in the orphanage.
4) Local families actually love orphans. When we watch TV, listen to radio, log on to the internet or hear about orphan care in any other way, we rarely hear stories of local Christians sacrificing to care for children. What we see celebrated are 18 year olds who go abroad and within weeks there, they start orphanages or adopt dozens of African children to raise like single mothers. I think we need to celebrate these local families, who even though poorer than we are, are also sacrificing for the poor in their communities. Many of us help the poor out of the abundance that we have. Some of the local people help the poor with the little they have to live on.
5) The local church is key to any successful God honoring orphan care.
While God is working through the orphan care movement in many parts of the world (not just in the work we do), there are still millions of orphans that need help. I pray that you would support orphan care through your local church and if possible also through organizations like ours who are working on the ground.
Question: I’ve shared with you what I know. Now it’s time to share what you know. What name do you think we should give to our “Foster Care Program” described above? What way is God moving your heart to participate in orphan care and disciple making through your local church? What way is he moving you to participate internationally? Share your comments below and help others learn and grow!