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Seeking Better Ways to Care for Orphans

20 Jan

Seeking Better Ways to Care for Orphans

Children and directors of Living Hope orphanage smile for a picture
The directors and children of Living Hope Orphanage in Yangon, Myanmar send their heartfelt greetings

Dear Friends,

We want to say thanks for your hearts of compassion. Because of gifts to Orphan’s Tear, as well as the over 500 Orphan’s Tear sponsors, 1,027 precious orphans and unwanted children in 9 very poor countries are receiving food, clothing, shelter, education and Christian nurture. God has really blessed the ministry of Orphan’s Tear since we started just six years ago, and His blessings have all come through folks like you!

Had we known six years ago what we know now, we may never have attempted what we’re succeeding to do! We never imagined the administrative load that we’d have to carry, nor did we have any idea what we would learn on this journey. But it has been worth it, and hundreds of children would say, “Amen!”

Foster Care Initiative, a Hopeful Solution

We don’t, however, ever want to “rest on our laurels.” Because of what we’ve learned, we are compelled to excel even more in our service to the children. To that end, we’ve prayerfully begun to explore ways that we can facilitate moving our children out of orphanages and into local Christian families, as we all know that would be better. There are, however, some huge hurdles that we face. Foster care and adoption is a foreign concept in many developing nations, and poor families in those nations can often barely feed their own children, much less care for any additional children. In fact, those kinds of parents are often trying to figure out ways to get their own biological children into orphanages, and they often succeed. That is a fact which we’ve had to come to grips with among the 53 Christian orphanages that Orphan’s Tear currently assists. And that is one reason (among many) that some of you have been notified in the past that a child you’ve been sponsoring is no longer living at the orphanage where he or she was previously living. Many of those children have a parent (or parents) who are still alive and whose circumstances have changed for the better, making it possible for them to care once again for their children. Or in some cases, relatives have opened up their homes.

Directors and children posing for a picture
Children and directors of Mt. Zion Orphanage in Haiti

We’ve begun our foster care initiative by conducting two conferences for our 38 orphanage directors in Myanmar last November. We brought in a foster care and adoption expert from the U.K. who challenged our directors to begin to think about what would be best for the children in their orphanages. He asked them, “If you and your spouse died, where would you want your children to live—with relatives, Christian friends, or in an orphanage?” They all agreed that they would prefer that their own children be taken in by Christian relatives, and if that were not possible, with some other Christian family. We spent two full days discussing all the aspects of foster care with them and how they can initiate the concept in Myanmar.

We’ve also decided to embark on a gradual plan that will benefit our 53 orphanage directors as well as the children whom they serve. I won’t burden you with all the details, but it is a seven-year plan to slowly reduce the population sizes of the orphanages that we assist, and to put in place foster care ministries that better serve orphans and unwanted children. To succeed, we will have to economically empower potential foster care families so that they can afford to care for another child, and we intend to do that in one of two ways: We will either give monthly $20 sponsorship gifts to foster families, or we will offer them micro-loans to help them start small, sustainable businesses. The first of these two means of economic empowerment is already working for us in Sri Lanka. A number of our sponsored children there have been enjoying the benefits of foster care, as they are living with families who receive the $20 each month that is sent by their foster child’s sponsor.

Phasing Out the Dorm Fund and Rice Field Fund

Because of our goal to encourage and facilitate foster care rather than perpetuate institutional orphanage care, we have also decided that it would be best to eventually close two of the Orphan’s Tear sub-funds, namely the Dorms for Orphanages Fund and the Rice Fields for Orphanages Fund. (We currently have four dorms under construction that are close to completion, and once they are, we intend to fund no additional dorm construction.) So, beginning in June of this year, Orphan’s Tear will have just three sub-funds: the Special Gifts Fund (which is used to fund many worthy projects that all directly benefit the children in our orphanages), the Christmas Gifts for Orphans Fund, and the newly established Foster Care Initiative Fund, which will be used to facilitate foster care through education, oversight of foster families, and economic empowerment. So as you continue to give to the ministry of Orphan’s Tear, please consider helping us with our foster care initiative through the Foster Care Initiative Fund.

Directors and children of Goshen Orphanage pose for a picture
Directors and children of Goshen Orphanage in Kalaymyo, Myanmar

If we do succeed over the next seven years, the 53 orphanages that we currently assist will have much fewer children so that they will be more like families, and many children who would have been living under institutional care will be living with loving Christian families—all under the watchful eye of a Christian social worker who may well also be a former orphanage director.

We will appreciate your prayers as we slowly make changes to the ministry of Orphan’s Tear that will result in better care for orphans and unwanted children. And thanks for all you have already done to show your love for Jesus by loving one (or more) of His little followers.

Sincerely in Christ,

David Servant
Director, Heaven’s Family

Emily Growden
Director, Orphan’s Tear Division

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