I am just going to come out there and say it first, and explain more later.
Orphan work is painfully messy and complicated.
I know that you and I are human and what we want is to come and read a blog or book about how the program is all worked out and all the details have been thought through with precision and its now been summed up and put into a ten step plan that you can read about in a PDF…. But it is just not that way, and in the years that Jessie and I have spent working in various orphanages around the world we have found that the truth is no one has it all figured out. I hate to burst that bubble if no one already did that for you, but to truly help orphans means you are getting down in the mud with them right where they are, and the struggle they are going through is not an easy one, or they would not be there in the first place.
Today I was going through some pictures and found one that I forgot I even took. It was about a week ago on the night that I went out in Addis and found all the boys sleeping on the sidewalk outside of the church. After we talked to them I quickly took out my camera and slipped a pictured before we left.
I share this with you today to give some perspective on the mess that is working with these kids, look for a second at this picture and put yourself in the shoes of one of the boys here. What do you think your life feels like? What do you think the most important things in your life would be if you were 9 years old and this was home? A blanket perhaps? A brother figure who has stepped up to help you out? A dog? I don’t pretend to fully understand what all goes through these boys heads, but I do know that its not an easy life.
Or think about the ones who are not in this picture, the ones who are hidden, who disappeared. The girls. Where are they? What are their lives like after being sold into slavery, what horrible atrocities have they endured? I shudder as I write this and try to comprehend what it must be like for a 10 year old girl to be sold as a slave? It’s horrible, and something must be done, messy or not. For Jessie and I we know for certain that our life’s calling is to help these children by giving as many of them as we can a place to call home.
Jessie and I have spent the past week talking of the different ways we can help, and how the organization we are building can be most effective at giving as many orphans a home as possible. Starting today and again over the coming weeks we will start to discuss here on the blog the various plans we have and hopefully get some feedback from all of you about the experiences you might have had in the past. We realize that none of us is an expert when it comes to orphan care because each and every child has a different story and different needs, but we believe that together we can conquer a big part of this problem, and hopefully build a model that can be replicated in other parts of the world as well. We ask that you join in the discussion and share your experiences and ideas with us, and point towards resources that might help along the way.
Today we are talking about housing models. The question we have is what are the best ways to house children that will give them a feeling of family and security while not costing a fortune to build? A big part of the discussion about orphan care we are finding surrounds the topic of stretching your dollars because there is no shortage of orphans, but there always seems to be a shortage of money.