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Heaven's Family Magazine
May 2015 Issue

The Prize of Enterprise

Can an Orphanage Become Self-Sufficient?

Stephen Servant, Orphan's Tear Ministry


The happy children of Life Concern Orphanage (and a few extra friends), standing in front of a taxi with which they have a special relationship.

He speaks excellent English, as well as his native Burmese and Chin. He has a PhD in Christian Ministry, and he teaches in several Bible schools. He also directs an orphanage that Heaven’s Family‘s Orphan’s Tear Ministry has supported since 2007.

We’ve taught him about kinship and foster care’s superiority over orphanage care, and he’s embraced the concept, to the degree that some of the children who formerly lived at his Yangon orphanage are now back home. His orphanage’s child population has decreased from 18 to 12 in recent years.

He knows that Orphan’s Tear is gradually reducing his orphanage’s monthly financial support, and he knows that financial support will end completely at the end of 2017—a strategy we’ve employed to motivate all the orphanages we support to become smaller and self-sufficient, like families. (Not all of the children in the many orphanages we support can be placed back with their own families or even relatives, because they are true orphans in every sense of the word.)

To prepare for the inevitable end of funding, he’s seized the opportunities we’ve offered all our Myanmar orphanage directors to receive business training and ever-increasing small business loans. With his first loan, he started raising pigs—and making profits. With his second, larger loan, he launched a brick-making business—and again made a profit. He also started growing fields of peanuts, from which he presses peanut oil to sell to a growing customer base. Beyond those enterprises, as a Heaven’s Family micro-banker, he’s helping poor Christians start their own profitable businesses, and he’s earning some profit from the small interest they pay on their loans.

But will Dr. Joney Thawng Hup, director of Life Concern Children’s Home, be self-sufficient as the father of a foster family by the end of 2017? The answer is more encouraging than you might expect.

Joney’s orphanage/foster family already is self-sufficient. And why? Joney earned sufficient trust from us over the years that we agreed to lend him enough money to purchase a used car. With that car, he started a taxi business. Now, every day, Joney rents his taxi to a driver. And every day, Joney makes money.

His various business enterprises have enabled Joney to no longer need any monthly support from Orphan’s Tear. Now, instead of Orphan’s Tear sending Joney financial support, Joney will be sending money to Orphan’s Tear as he repays his loan! And what a joy it was to inform the sponsors of Joney’s children that their sponsorship was no longer needed and could be used to sponsor children in other orphanages!

But here is perhaps the best news of all: We’re serving more than 100 Christian orphanages in Joney’s city of Yangon. Joney is our primary advocate to those orphanages, promoting foster care and self-sufficiency. He’s helping us change the landscape of the “orphanage industry” that has been financially fueled for decades in Myanmar by well-meaning ministries like ours that were, at least to some degree, inadvertently hurting those they have been trying to help.

We believe that every child deserves to be raised in a loving, self-sufficient family—a simple conviction that is too often absent in the world of orphan care. When you invest in Orphan’s Tear, you are part of a revolution!

Help care for orphans by equipping their caretakers to become self-sufficient


This Month's Articles

This Month's Teaching

Strategic Stewardship


Parting Shot: Insect Inside...


Eating insects is quite common in the developing regions of Latin America, Africa and Asia. Over 1,000 insect species are known to be eaten by at least 3,000 ethnic groups living in 80% of the world’s nations. This little Kenyan girl didn’t actually eat her suspended cockroach…at least not while the photographer, Jeff Trotter, was looking!