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David’s 3rd Blog from Myanmar
Today I spent the entire day with Philip Barker, who directs our child reintegration program in Myanmar, and one of our Burmese social workers, Htoo Say, as we visited three children who formerly lived in a large orphanage that Heaven’s Family once supported. Now they are living in families.
I didn’t remember any of the three children, because over the years that I visited Jehovah Jireh Orphanage, they just blended in with the other 80-or-so children who outnumbered their adult caregivers by about 20 to 1. And my not taking notice of them was certainly emblematic of their lot in life, as they were just faces in a crowd of kids who lived together in dormitories, all far from their homes, families and relatives.
Studies, as well as less-scientific observation, have shown that children raised in institutional care are not prepared to one day lead functional families of their own, and they often carry deep psychological scars into their adult lives. Once we learned that the large majority of children in Myanmar’s hundreds (if not thousands) of orphanages were not orphans at all, we could not, in good conscience, continue to be a part of their problem. We received (and continue to receive) training from SFAC and partnered with professionals in child reintegration. Now our goal is to see every child where God intended them to be, in a family. And we’re working towards that end, even though there are major hurdles.
To be honest, our greatest adversary in this struggle has not been the devil. It has been well-meaning Christians and Christian organizations in the U.S., Korea, Australia and Singapore (to name a few) that are pouring millions of dollars into Myanmar’s orphanage industry, which inadvertently creates more demand for children to “help.” “Orphanages” are proliferating here at a horrendous rate.
Our second-greatest adversary has turned out to be orphanage directors themselves who profit from showcasing their child collections to foreign Christians and charities, and especially if they can keep the multiple organizations that support them from knowing about each other. Some even run orphanage franchises. They, too, resist our efforts to get children into families. Thankfully, some have joined us. We are David against Goliath, but knowing that God is on our side is what keeps us from quitting.
Below are a few photos with captions of each of the three former Jehova-Jireh kids we visited today. They are 3 of about 15, so far.