I'm looking forward to my upcoming trip to DRC. It will be very short (way too short!), but I'm thankful I have the opportunity to go and for all those who are supporting this trip. It is such an important trip. We need to sit down with the leadership of the orphanage and make sure everyone agrees with the steps necessary to move forward with making family support and reunification a priority.
All of the children living at the orphanage have living and known family that care for their children and brought them to the orphanage when they were infants after their mothers died. The families are extremely poor and couldn't afford the formula to keep their babies alive. Most families intend to come get their children and most of the families visit their children regularly.
We want to help those families that do not come and get their children within 6-9 months of dropping them off at the orphanage. We want to intervene at their most vulnerable moment, at the drop off moment. We want to be able to activate quick and thorough assessments of the families to elucidate what barriers are present that prevent them from taking their children back home. We want to work with the communities (and churches) to support these families. We want to make comprehensive program that supports families in need. It is being done in other countries, it can be done in eastern DRC as well.
We don't believe international adoption is the answer to the desperate act by a family in extreme poverty that led to a baby being taken to the orphanage. We believe poverty shouldn't prevent a child from being able to live with their family. We believe in the hard work of coming alongside families, supporting them, and hearing their stories and their voices. We believe that the families themselves, together with the community, can be empowered to care for their children and each other. We believe in keeping families together.
What are the next steps? Well, we need to go to Congo, get on the ground and talk to each other. We need to make a plan. Next, we need to raise some funds to start this work. First, we need to raise about $5000 to buy a motorcycle for our manager and staff on the ground.
Our families are spread all over different territories. There are some roads, but many that are there are not passable. Many areas are only accessible by foot, plane or moto. We support about 80 children (who lived in the orphanage until age 5) to go to school. We want to be able to check on these children in their schools and in their homes. Our manager needs transport to be able to do that. This is essential to our work.
Second, we need committed funding to hire a social worker. Thanks to some donors we have started raising these funds. Once we have all the committed funding, we will go about hiring a social worker.
Third, we need to train all of our staff and this is something we are committed to as well. There are experts throughout Africa and Europe that are willing to help. We have done some preliminary reaching out and are excited about the prospects for training and support.
There is a lot of work to be done. I'm so incredibly thankful for all those that have come alongside us and are excited about this work too. If you are interested in giving to our work in eastern DRC, our website is www.reedsofhope.org.