A Family for Every Orphan (AFFEO) envisions a world where every child knows the love and stability of a family. To see this vision come to fruition, they partner with and provide support to Christ-centered local organizations around the globe that have developed foster care and adoption programs. Their international partners are strongly vetted to ensure organizational integrity and adherence to best practices.
One of AFFEO’s international partners is a locally led faith-based organization (FBO)[i] in Southeast Asia composed of trained social workers, pastors, and a large network of churches. This partner has been operating for over 25 years, reaching out to vulnerable children and families in a variety of ways. When AFFEO was first introduced to this FBO through World Without Orphans, the FBO was interested in starting a foster care initiative in their community.
A partnership was quickly formed and since January 2017, the FBO has assessed, recruited, and trained three families from local churches to take in a small number of children. Through child and family assessments, the local government and social workers have determined that the children have lost at least one parent. and extended family members are unable to care for them. All three foster families were recruited from local churches and spent a year in training under the supervision of the local FBO. The foster families came forward because of their deep love for children and their belief that children belong in families.
Throughout the first year of care, AFFEO financially supported these families by giving to their local partner. These funds then went to the foster families to assist in covering various household expenses, such as rent, utilities, and school fees. During the second year, local churches and individuals will take on the financial needs of caring for these children.
Further, both organizations recognized the need for the staff and foster families to be properly trained in working with children who have experienced trauma. To fill this need, AFFEO sponsored in-person training sessions through LAMb International Canada for the FBO’s staff and foster families, equipping them with the necessary tools and understanding to successfully care for the children.
Prity is a positive example of how children in the community have benefited from the stability of the foster home initiative. Prity’s mother died when she was just three years old and soon after her father remarried. Her stepmother treated her poorly, neglecting Prity and often abusing her. To appease his new wife, Prity’s father sold her to another woman, who then died. A member of the community knew about the local church’s efforts in working with children like Prity, and Prity was connected to AFFEO’s FBO partner.
Prity was placed in a foster family with other girls from similar situations. Because her foster parents received support and training about how to respond to Prity’s traumatic life experiences, she was able to begin transitioning into a stable family life. Now at ten years old, she feels cared for, attends school, and no longer worries about when she will receive her next meal.
In speaking about their mission, Chelsea Elizabeth, AFFEO’s Program Director for Africa and Asia, shares that one of their main priorities is to work with local leaders. Further, AFFEO believes that in-country nationals are best positioned to implement family care practices and sees their role as a supportive one, offering resources and other assistance as needed and when asked.
Implementing family-based care has many complexities in this Southeast Asia country and a single organization cannot promote family care on its own. It takes like-minded groups working together and sharing their expertise to tackle complicated issues. Strategic partnerships are a key component of implementing family-based care.
Through its partnership with AFFEO, the locally led FBO is able to share the importance of placing orphans and vulnerable children in families with the local church so that more children like Prity will know the transformative love and support of a family.
Strong organizational partnerships have resulted in, and will continue to produce, strong families among the communities in this unique Southeast Asian country.
[i] To protect the identity of the women and men working in this organization, the location and the name of the organization are omitted.