Stories

Potter’s House: Transformation Through Livelihood Strengthening

In the garbage dumps of Guatemala, children are born and raised in an environment that can impede human flourishing. They grow up in the middle of society’s waste, which makes it difficult to see a future beyond the desolation. In this community, family culture encourages partnering and starting a family of their own when they reach adolescence, with many children leaving formal education behind by age 12. It is not uncommon for 14-year-olds to begin living with a girlfriend or boyfriend; marriage rituals are rarely celebrated and it is the general custom not to marry. There is widespread lack of [...]

Potter’s House: Transformation Through Livelihood Strengthening2019-05-15T17:14:11-05:00

No Ordinary Love Ministries: Reuniting Children and Families in Ethiopia

In 2015, 158 children were reunited with their families through the work of No Ordinary Love Ministries (NOLM). The mission of NOLM is “to bless and serve people living in extreme poverty in Ethiopia, and beyond,” and one of the ways they live this out is through reuniting separated children with their families.One such family is that of a young girl named Tesfanesh. Wanting to help support her parents, she agreed to travel from her village to the capital to find employment. After only a week in Addis Ababa, Tesfanesh ran away, unable to endure the demands of her new [...]

No Ordinary Love Ministries: Reuniting Children and Families in Ethiopia2019-05-15T17:18:13-05:00

Supporting the Church Body to Keep Families Together

Working in partnership with local initiatives is an effective response to the needs of orphans and vulnerable children. Preventing family separation, and children being welcomed into new loving, safe, and stable families is what success looks like in this type of work. In communities all around the world, church partnerships play a vital role in upholding the importance of family and supporting care of orphans and vulnerable children. An organization doing such critical work is World Orphans. The US-based nonprofit works to empower the church to care for orphans by partnering with churches and facilitating direct church-to-church partnerships to support [...]

Supporting the Church Body to Keep Families Together2019-05-15T17:20:15-05:00

Challenging Heights: Platforms for Children’s Voices to Be Heard

Jesus was quick to say, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them” (Matthew 19:14). His words were countercultural in a time and place when children’s voices were rarely heard; His words continue to provoke our thoughts and actions as we engage with children, especially those most marginalized. The Faith to Action Initiative recognizes the need to create platforms for children’s voices to be heard as one of its core guiding principles: “It is important to listen to the voices of children and families, respond to their concerns, and involve them in meaningful decisions that affect [...]

Challenging Heights: Platforms for Children’s Voices to Be Heard2019-05-15T17:28:24-05:00

Pivoting Methods to Create Sustainable Impact: One Woman’s Story of Transition to Family-Based Care

In the local Ugandan dialect, Akola means simply “she works.” Yet, for many Ugandan women and their families, it represents much more. Akola Project began in 2007 with the mission to empower women in poverty to transform the well-being of their families and communities through economic development. Since its start, Akola has helped create economic stability for 400 women and over 3,000 dependents in their care. This impact is possible because of a young woman’s willingness to pivot her method of achieving her calling. In 2004, Brittany Merrill Underwood, Akola’s founder, was moved to compassion after meeting Sarah, a Ugandan [...]

Pivoting Methods to Create Sustainable Impact: One Woman’s Story of Transition to Family-Based Care2019-05-15T17:35:13-05:00

Bright Hope: Providing Family Support through Church Partnership

Children grow best in families. This is true whether a child is born into great wealth or extreme poverty. However, in far too many communities around the world, it is poverty that is preventing children from growing up in the care of a family. Poverty is a driving force that pushes children into orphanages or thrusts them out into a life on the streets, creating social orphans and vulnerable children. Fortunately, local churches and faith-based NGOs around the world are partnering together and responding to the needs of these children in the best possible way: supporting families to provide for [...]

Bright Hope: Providing Family Support through Church Partnership2019-05-15T17:37:32-05:00

Foster Care India: Redefining India’s Continuum of Care

It is perhaps human nature that we gravitate toward stories with inspiring plots and resolved endings. Those of us tirelessly advocating for vulnerable children love stories of children placed in families happily ever after. In reality, care for orphaned and vulnerable children is typically much more complex than a singular solution. As the Faith to Action Initiative explains in the document A Continuum of Care for Orphans and Vulnerable Children, “Preventing unnecessary separation, strengthening family care, and reducing placement in orphanages requires the existence of a ‘continuum’ of approaches and support services. Family-based alternatives range from reunification with the child’s [...]

Foster Care India: Redefining India’s Continuum of Care2019-05-15T17:44:39-05:00

Coptic Orphans: Strengthening the Church Family

Living as a religious minority anywhere in the world can present unique challenges. It can impact daily life, impeding access to education, livelihood opportunities, and economic stability. That is what led Egyptian-born Nermien Riad to found the organization Coptic Orphans. Since its establishment in 1988, Nermien has encountered thousands of orphans and vulnerable children from Egypt’s Coptic Christian community and has seen that for children without a father, life is especially challenging. When husbands and fathers are not present, children and mothers do not have a voice in Egyptian society. Further, despite the country’s rich Christian heritage, around only 13 [...]

Coptic Orphans: Strengthening the Church Family2019-05-15T17:53:56-05:00

The Image of God and the Abilities of All

The United Nations declared today, December 3rd, the International Day of Persons with Disabilities. Around the world on this day, the abilities of all people are to be celebrated, even (and especially) those of vulnerable children. Followers of Christ believe that all human beings are created in the image of God (Imago Dei), and therefore have the capacity and the right to thrive in relationship with one another. Yet while God’s image is within all people, in many parts of the world children with disabilities continue to be relegated to the uttermost fringes of society. Particularly in impoverished communities, resources [...]

The Image of God and the Abilities of All2019-05-15T18:08:19-05:00

Putting the Lonely in Families: The Journey of SFAC

The transformation of a child who is reintegrated into a family is always worthy of praise and thanksgiving. Yet few things are as noteworthy as the hundreds of children’s lives impacted by an adult or adults who decisively recognize that God puts the lonely in families (Psalm 68:6). Meet Mick Pease. Mick is the Director of SFAC (Substitute Families for Abandoned Children), a UK-based Christian organization that advocates for improved services for orphaned and abandoned children, with an emphasis on alternative options to residential care. SFAC provides training for nonprofit and faith-based organizations, social workers, volunteers, and substitute families around [...]

Putting the Lonely in Families: The Journey of SFAC2019-05-15T18:10:50-05:00

Fostering Hope in Guatemala

In Guatemala, when a child becomes an orphan, is a victim of abuse or exploitation, or is separated from family-based care, the primary response, historically, has been to place that child in a residential care facility. In 2013, UNICEF reported that 5,800 Guatemalan children were living in orphanages with large disparities of caregivers and children. Unfortunately, research shows that there are long-term, and sometimes permanent, negative effects institutional care can have on a child physically, emotionally, cognitively, and socially. Buckner International, a Christian organization working with orphans, vulnerable children, and families, is helping to change those prospects for many children [...]

Fostering Hope in Guatemala2019-05-15T18:29:33-05:00

Fuller Theological Seminary: Equipping Students in Family-Based Care

Fuller Theological Seminary is helping students thoughtfully understand and support evidence-based practices in action as practitioners. Thought leaders around the country at centers of learning like the School of Intercultural Studies at Fuller, work to mold the experienced, as well as the inexperienced, into practitioners who go into the world to implement orphan care practices that align with the best interests of children.Fuller Theological Seminary’s Dr. David Scott, Assistant Professor of Intercultural Studies and Children at Risk, and Dr. Sheryl Ryan, Adjunct Faculty in the School of Intercultural Studies, are two leaders helping students understand the importance of family as [...]

Fuller Theological Seminary: Equipping Students in Family-Based Care2019-05-15T18:31:13-05:00

Quietly Investing in the Zimbabwean Church

Where would you go if your family were on the verge of separation because you could no longer afford to feed your children? What if your support system—family, friends, community—were all in the midst of similar circumstances themselves and unable to help you? Whom would you trust? In Zimbabwe, Forgotten Voices highlights how the local church is in a unique position to support family preservation, and how this kind of work is pursued with tenacity and faithfulness. Otto Monroy, Vice President of Forgotten Voices, believes that strengthening the church is a critical approach to orphan care. Forgotten Voices partners [...]

Quietly Investing in the Zimbabwean Church2019-05-15T18:42:38-05:00

Reducing Stigma: Retrak’s Model of Reunifying Street Children With Families

For any child longing to be reunited with his or her family, the emotional and psychological hurdles can be enormous. This is particularly true for children being reintegrated with their families and communities after living on the streets—due to a range of issues, including family breakdown, death of a parent, and poverty. Street children, in some ways, live their lives in the shadows. They are often forced into unpaid labor positions or a lifestyle of begging. Yet despite the aspects of life that are largely unseen, the stigma attached to a child who has lived on the streets can [...]

Reducing Stigma: Retrak’s Model of Reunifying Street Children With Families2019-05-15T18:44:01-05:00

The Long Road Back: Transitioning to Family Care in Rwanda

In Rwanda, an estimated 860,000 children and young people have lost one or both parents from the 1994 genocide, HIV and AIDS, or poverty. The strain that this has placed on families is overwhelming. In 2012 there were 3,300 children living in 33 institutions, commonly known as orphanages, across the country. Hope and Homes for Children (HHC), an organization working to place vulnerable children in family-based care and prevent institutional care for children, is partnering with the Rwandan government, UNICEF, and other partners to transition children out of all 33 institutions and into loving, stable, safe families. As of [...]

The Long Road Back: Transitioning to Family Care in Rwanda2019-05-15T18:52:44-05:00

Project RED: Empowering Families for Abundant Lives

El Salvador is the most densely populated country in Latin America and has the unfortunate standing as one of the world’s most violent countries. With this reality comes widespread poverty and a breakdown of the family structure across society. Publicly funded programs and an adequate protection system to ensure the wellbeing of children simply do not exist. In 2009, upheaval once again become a reality for orphans living in institutions, with the introduction of a new law called Law for Integral Child and Adolescent Protection (LEPINA), which is drawn from the UN Convention of the Rights of the Child. [...]

Project RED: Empowering Families for Abundant Lives2019-05-15T18:56:55-05:00

Children in Families: A Community Approach to Reintegration

Everyone in Kampong knows Sopheat* — his mischievous laugh, his lively personality, his story. Sopheat was among the very first children to be placed with a foster family in Kampong, a Cambodian village of sweeping rice paddies and swaying sugar palm trees. Sopheat’s street is now home to several other children living with foster families, and over the past few years their village has welcomed 35 children previously living in vulnerable situations. Children in Families (CIF) is a Christian organization in Cambodia working to reintegrate at-risk children into families. Many of these children live in orphanages after being abandoned [...]

Children in Families: A Community Approach to Reintegration2019-05-15T19:03:43-05:00

HelpKids Centre: Supporting the Love of Families in Sri Lanka

Family-based, alternative care for orphans and vulnerable children is on the rise in Colombo, Sri Lanka. Alison Atkinson and her husband Narel joined Australian Christian Churches International Relief (ACCI) 10 years ago, as field workers in Colombo. They established the HelpKids Centre, a local, community-based organization that strengthens local families living in slums and severe poverty. It functions as a community center, providing early childhood education, daycare support, counseling for parents, and medical assistance, supports women in accessing vocational training, and coordinates women’s and children’s clubs. The Atkinson’s approach to care for vulnerable children has changed over the years. [...]

HelpKids Centre: Supporting the Love of Families in Sri Lanka2019-05-15T19:12:12-05:00

The GO Exchange: Creating Jobs, Giving Hope, Strengthening Families

Makilene was an unemployed mother of six and living in extreme poverty in Haiti. She realized over time that she could no longer care for all her children, so she faced the heartbreaking decision to give up her youngest child and took her child and traveled to Port-Au-Prince. She had heard about a woman named Shelley Clay who helps children. Makilene thought she was knocking on the door of an orphanage for her infant daughter when she arrived in Port-Au-Prince, but a very different opportunity awaited her — one with hope and a future for herself and her family. [...]

The GO Exchange: Creating Jobs, Giving Hope, Strengthening Families2019-05-15T19:18:56-05:00

The Jubilee Centre: Transforming Zambian Communities through the Local and Global Church

In 1999 Lawrence and Martha Temfwe founded the Jubilee Centre in Zambia. The center empowers and trains churches in under-resourced communities to give integral care to all people — especially orphans and vulnerable children — and bring change to their communities. Currently, they are serving over 94 churches and have a staff of 13 people. Zambia has a great need for community-based orphan care. “Zambia has a long road ahead,” says Lawrence Temfwe. In this country, over 1,700,000 are orphans and vulnerable children, which is 12 percent of the population, and nearly another two million are considered vulnerable. Orphans [...]

The Jubilee Centre: Transforming Zambian Communities through the Local and Global Church2019-05-15T19:23:24-05:00
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