Orphan Care Bases
We often advise people who set out to start an orphanage not to focus on starting an orphanage. Instead, we advise them to focus on what the orphans’ needs are. Sometimes, it may mean starting an orphanage. At other times, it may mean starting orphan bases.An orphan base is a place from which to work and serve orphans in the surrounding areas. We can work from there to facilitate family-based care, community development, provide tutoring, medical care, some meals, etc. If the needs are great, then an orphanage can arise from there. It’s important to let the true needs of the children determine the care we give them. Starting an orphanage immediately without a thorough understanding of the needs of the community is not a smart idea. And these needs change frequently. So flexibility is key.
With the orphan base model, we reduce the temptation of rushing to institutionalize orphans simply because we want people to know we have a big orphanage. We all have that tendency to consciously and unconsciously make something bigger so people can see that our thing is working.It's important to let the true needs of the children determine the care we give them. Click To Tweet
The word “orphanage” tells people that we have orphans in a building somewhere. But that may not be the best way to serve orphans in that area. It may be the best way to serve children for one year, but not for the next year, since things change. It may be the best way to serve one orphan but not another. If we focus on starting an orphan base from which we serve orphans, it reminds us to focus on the needs of the orphans and the best way to meet them.
Many times, the best way to serve orphans is not an orphanage. For example, Shaping Destiny has created a “foster care” program in Cameroon (Africa) where none existed. They match orphans to live with local Christian families in their culture that they have partnered with through local churches and taught the importance of orphan care. For some of them who need help, they provide help to the orphan at a small fraction of the cost of keeping that child in an orphanage. It is good for the orphan in many ways. The child grows in a loving home with a mother and father and gets more attention than they can ever get in the orphanage. Also, it’s much cheaper than an orphanage so they can care for more children. It empowers the local people to serve orphans and be blessed by doing it.
Truth is that the idea of orphanage can close up the mind to these creative solutions. And yes, they also have an “orphanage” that functions as a transition home in Cameroon where they take ill, malnourished children so that they can be taken care of for some time before hopefully being reunited with their biological family or placed with a foster family, if necessary. starting an orphanage is great if done well, at the right time, and for the right purposes.
Starting an orphanage is great if done well, at the right time, and for the right purposes.