First, we need to make sure the care the babies and children receive while at the orphanage is meeting their needs. And I don't just mean food and formula. We need to make sure they are held, touched, talked to, and played with regularly. With all the new babies, our current staff is struggling to find the time to do all those essential pieces for their development and growth. We need to hire more women to work with children. I'm excited about this because it means that the babies will get held, the children will played with, AND we are giving a woman a salary which will in turn help her family. You might ask, "isn't that what my sponsorship supports?". Yes, it does! However, when we set our sponsorship amounts it was at a time when there were a lot fewer babies. It costs at least $80/month to feed a baby formula. (Yes, that more than the monthly sponsorship amount!) We set the sponsorship amounts lower because it costs a lot less than that to give the older kids milk. We still were able to pay the salaries of the wonderful women we hired before I left the country. They are working so hard, but they cannot do it all and need help. Now we need to hire more women, but we don't want to raise the sponsorship costs. Interested in sponsoring a mama? Let me know!
|This is Gloire (one of two children with the same name, Glory).|
Second, we want to get the babies home sooner! Living in an orphanage is not good for babies, it's not good for toddlers, it's not good for 3 and 4 year olds, it's not good for anyone! Even if you are doing it the best you can. Kids need families! And guess what? All the kids at the orphanage we support have families. We want to get them home sooner. Up until now we have been stuck meeting only the barest minimum of needs because we were struggling to pay for formula each month. Now we want to hire more mamas AND we want to work on getting those kids home as soon as we can. How do we do that? Well, we hire a social worker to work with us to help work with families, investigate the barriers why the kids aren't going home sooner, and work on bringing the families in to the orphanage to bond with kids. Maybe even locate other family members who might not know about the children and get them involved. Interested in working with us on this key piece? Let me know and we'll talk.
|Sweet Ziruka, no longer left in a crib alone, but now in a full family bed |
as she was reunited home with her family this year.
(For those that are wondering, there are a small number of children over the past two years who have not been able to go back home to their families (mine included!). Those children have found homes internationally, not through Reeds of Hope, but through a different organization that does adoption as part of their work in DRC. They are not looking for adoptive families right now. However, if you want more information about their work all over DRC, let me know.)
Third, we would love to send some of our staff to trainings on best practices for caring for vulnerable, orphaned, and abandoned children, including resettlements with families. We would love to be able to also connect with local churches and bring these teachings into the community. The area surrounding the orphanage is a very deeply religious one. Some children that are resettled home are not treated as equals in the home. Culturally they are often treated as "less" then the others (that may be from a new marriage). There is so much that can be done through the churches to bring to light teaching in the Bible about how God views children, orphans, and widows. I really believe that change best happens through the congolese people themselves taking the words of the Bible and transforming lives and families. Interested, let me know.
Finally, and so importantly, we support 82 children who have left the orphanage by paying their school fees. Up until now, we have raised the money for the school fees three times a year through generous people who have decided to take on the project and go into their communities and families and raise the entire amount of that trimester's fees (often around $1700)! We would love to set up a sponsorship system for these children so that we can support going to check on the children and monitor their progress. I'm so excited about this, because we want to continue to support the children in a more comprehensive way even after they leave the orphanage. (For those of you who are wondering, the school fees of these children have been paid for years and years by the missionaries that started the orphanage. They have lost much of their funding over the last two years and we have filled the gap).
|Janvier! I love this little boy! I would love to see him back with his family soon.|
I'm so excited about all the people who are partnering with us right now and even more excited about the work we are doing in eastern DRC that comes alongside our Congolese friends and family as they care for vulnerable children and families in their communities.