So… yeah, today (Thursday) has been a little bit less than awesome around here. Our fam has kind of been through the wringer lately. So no big Read-Along Introduction post with snazzy graphics and brilliant reading schedules. But that’s okay. That will give me more time to nag you to join us. And for you to get the book. (I’m thrilled that so many of you are in already!!)
And in the meantime, I want to get started on a little series of posts that I think are important. About orphanages. And whether they’re really helping kiddos or actually doing more harm than good.
A week or so ago, I got a facebook message from my friend Heather. She and her family have recently returned to Texas after spending time in Haiti. She was getting ready to post a link to an article about orphan care in Cambodia and wanted to make sure she didn’t hurt me by it.
She said she thought the article raised some valid questions, but that she didn’t want me to think that she and Aaron thought that our work in Cambodia was wrong, or “anything less than beautiful.” Then she said a bunch more nice stuff that made me go “awwww…”
I messaged her back and thanked her for being so sweet to think of my feelings. I read the article, and it made me sad. Because there was so much truth in it. So much. But it also gave me hope, because I knew that “our” orphanage in Cambodia was exempt from all of the red flags the article raised. Not exempt because they’ve been granted some special status, but because they truly want what’s best for these kids, and they’re doing this orphan care thing right.
And they’re not the only ones doing it right.
And there are lots of good, right ways to help orphans. And there are lots of good, right ways to keep kiddos from becoming orphans. Because that would be the best-case scenario, no?
There are also some very sad and dangerous things going on around the world in the name of “orphan care.” Exploitation of children for financial gain. The tearing apart of families. Emotional abandonment stemming from a revolving door of volunteers. Exposure to child predators. Awful stuff like that.
And I think it’s so easy to get overwhelmed by all of this and think, “So are orphanages good or are they bad?” And the answer is so much more complex than that.
I talked to John McCollum, Executive Director of Asia’s Hope, and asked him if he’d be willing to answer some questions and address some concerns about orphanages and if they’re really in the best interest of kiddos in Cambodia. He said absolutely. He also pointed me to another site that warns people of the dangers of Orphanage Tourism.
One thing is for sure. Caring for orphans is a biblical mandate. We just want to make sure we’re really, truly caring for them like Jesus wants us to.
So, here’s what I’m hoping we can do here on the blog next week:
2. If you have personal experiences to share or know of some organizations that are doing this thing right, tell us about them.
3. Have questions or concerns? Share them in the comments.
John will be on hand to answer your questions and address your concerns as we go. (And tomorrow he’ll be sharing his personal story on the blog–good stuff.)