Home Where We Belong

04 Dec

Little girl in Chin State, Myanmar
A little girl in Chin State, the source of most of the children who populate Myanmar’s “orphanages”

Home Where We Belong

David’s 3rd Blog from Myanmar

Dear Friends,

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.

David Servant
Founder and President, Heaven’s Family

Girl no longer in orphanage, with her grandfather
Eden’s parents divorced when she just was a baby, and her grandfather, at right, raised her for a few years until succumbing to the temptation to place her in Jehovah Jireh Orphanage. She lived there for 10 years. Thankfully, the elderly director of that orphanage embraced the truth that children belong in families, and after a careful assessment process, Eden returned to live with her grandfather, who was also persuaded that his home was the best option. Our social workers continue to check up on Eden, and her biological mother, two half-sisters, and one half-brother live close by.

Boy with parents in Myanmar
Mawia’s mother, to his right, was a very poor widow who was struggling to care for him and his two older siblings, so she sent them all to Jehovah Jireh. They lived there 8 years. But the Lord eventually connected her to a good man, a widower, and they blended their families in Christ. But 8 years in an orphanage have taken their toll on Mawia, and he has struggled adjusting to family life. He wants to drop out of school at age 14. Our social workers continue to visit and help reintegrated families overcome their common challenges.

Sap, reintegrated into family, with her aunt
Sap was born into a troubled family. Her father was an alcoholic and her mother had mental and emotional problems. She found herself living with 80 other children for 7 years, until our social workers searched for and found some of her relatives, an aunt (pictured above with Sap) and an uncle, who agreed to take her as their daughter. Her two younger brothers are still living in an orphanage several hundred miles away, and we hope to turn their situations around as well.

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