Most of you know that we provide formula for little ones like this baby, Samuel.
And we provide fortified powdered milk for children like this sweet little girl, Bwinja.
We also pay the salaries for more women to care for the babies and older children.
We help to support an orphanage along with three other donors. We do a lot of good. We are a part of keeping babies alive after their mothers die. We help provide women to hold them when their mothers cannot. We help prevent starvation and death. We meet children and their families in a time of crisis.
It is not enough.
Why? Because we support an orphanage and orphanages harm children. Because children belong in families, not in orphanages. And most of all, because all of the children that are brought to the orphanage we support have families. Babies are brought there in a most of crisis to prevent death.
Almost all of the families intend to come back and get their children.
What does this mean for us?
It means that what we do matters. It matters that we make sure we are a part of moving children out of the orphanage and back into their families. That they spend as little time as possible in the orphanage. That they are given the emergency care they need to get healthy and strong and then they are transitioned back to their families as soon as possible (with thorough social work/church/community support).
It means that how we do this matters. It matters that we aren't just sending formula to eastern Congo. It's not enough to only feed children and prevent starvation. It matters that we are a part of bringing families back together and uniting them again. It matters that for those that can't be reunited with their families, that we find alternative care (yes, domestic adoption/long term foster care) that is reflective of cultural norms of caring for orphaned and vulnerable children in eastern DRC. (Please check back tomorrow for a post about such a family in eastern DRC).
Our mission statement reads that we are about bringing hope to children in eastern DRC. How do we do that? We don't leave them in their cribs believing that they are not loved. We don't leave them without a mama or a baba to hold them and comfort them. We don't just bring formula and milk. We work with courage to bring families back together. And we send children to school that wouldn't otherwise be sent to school. We bring hope.
I want to end on linking to a post that was written by the director of the Abide Family Center in Uganda that works at keeping families together. Please, take the time to read it. She says, so much more eloquently than me, where our hearts should be as we care for orphans and vulnerable children and challenges us saying,
We excuse the removal of the child from the family because the family is poor.We cannot be complacent in our care for orphaned and vulnerable children in eastern DRC. We must work to strengthen families and meet them in moments of crisis to prevent separation. We must work to bring families back together when they have been torn apart and work to moving children out of orphanages. We cannot forget that hope is rarely found in an orphanage, no matter how much formula we bring or mamas we hire. Hope is found in the love and care of a family and in the love of God. Thank you for joining us in this vision and passion for bringing hope to the children of eastern DRC.
And we mistake poverty for families not loving their children.