Anyone who would read a blog with a title involving Abandoned Children is probably something of a unique individual. The thought of turning ones attention to this subject can be a lamentable one, unless there is a healthy and positive purpose, motivation and tangible reward for doing so. From a purely objective point of view the statistics and facts about child abandonment are just facts and information, but who can be truly objective about these countless innocent victims of circumstance and in some cases inhumanity? It’s admittedly a challenging and often vexing situation.
It would be disastrous for these little ones, if we were to turn our back on their plight, and yet without some combination of Compassion, Hope and Encouragement, clothing our attention on them, the story could appear so stressful it might become depressing. Even the most undaunted faithful must at times weep when the suffering of children worldwide, due to adult abandonment, is surveyed. I don’t fault anyone who would rather not think about it.
I submit we probably all have some kind of imaginary picture or figment buried somewhere in our soul of what it’s probably like to be in an orphanage. If you’ve never visited one or worked with family-less children, you might have a hard time conjuring up a clear picture, but maybe you’ve read books or seen movies and you have a sort of composite concept. What is that like for you? Is it lonely? Is it emotionally desperate or fraught with adolescent struggles and competition for attention? Is there kindness; cruelty; enough food?
Obviously whatever our imaginary orphanage is like, the fact is orphanages come in all types and varieties. There is an endless variety of approaches and staff temperaments that create a range of experiences for their little residents. It would be easy to say “any orphanage is better than the alternative” but in my experience I have seen some examples that broke my heart. The Abandoned Children’s Fund staff has the obligation to evaluate and one time to disassociate ourselves from a project due to the lack or absence of the necessary ingredients for healing and restoring homeless children to health and maturity.
Let me give you a glimpse into an ACF funded Children’s Home that Abandoned Children’s Fund has been connected with since the day we were founded, Emmanuel Children’s Home has been serving abandoned, abused, and disadvantaged children for nearly 50 years in Juarez, Mexico. That’s right, Juarez, ranked the second most likely place in the world to die from a homicide. This patch of strife torn geography, ravaged by the violence of drug cartels fighting for control of the drug trade on the streets, is the location of a little piece of heaven. In the past 6-7 years, drug extortion and kidnapping gangs ran amok, fighting turf wars have terrorized the rich and the poor. Violence was so severe in certain areas, and poverty so deep (as the economy plummeted) that the residents of entire blocks moved away. Nearly 11,000 people were killed in Juarez from 2007 to 2013. There are few families whose lives haven’t been directly affected by it.
Let’s use Juarez as our plumb line and lift our eyes for a moment to notice that even when the very worst situations that can be imagined come to fall upon a broken family or the children of shattered homes, there is a place of refuge and sanctuary for some of them. It would be wonderful if such a place was available for all such victims, but that would be another world. I want to invite you to take a moment to watch this 5 minute video (Oceans of Faith) on You Tube of random moments captured inside the Emmanuel Children’s Home as these children experience a belonging life in this orphanage.
Is this what the orphanage you had in your imagination looked like? Is it as clear to you as it is to me that these children are experiencing a kind of richness that may not be common place in all of our homes or schools? There are tears of sorrow and tears of joy shared in these friendships. The adults, teachers, coaches are involved, engaged in the children’s experience. There is music and ‘hamming’ around, full plates of food and the freedom to dance, little eyelids shut in prayer from a sense of the sacredness of the moment. These children belong. They are happy, they (like we) have their private struggles, but they are getting on with it, moving forward, becoming whole.
There are no accidents. Someone, a long time ago, broke down (probably in an hour of overwhelming need) and in faith prayed for God’s Mercy for orphans and didn’t stop praying until there was a place in Juarez to provide Love, Care and a Future of Hope for children caught in the shattered fallout of broken families. Now, fifty years later, and thousands of needy children later Emmanuel Children’s Home still gathers these little chicks under the roof and wings of a living, vital faith in God, to help them learn to Trust that they will not only make it through, but with help from above, they will become dynamic, joyful healthy individuals on the way. Many seasons have come and gone but today the staff and nearly 85 children in the Home have their own little mountains of inconvenience to climb.
For example, wind from a recent violent storm tore off parts of the roof requiring portions to be re-roofed and urgent repairs applied to rain damaged ceilings. Just now, in the last few weeks Abandoned Children’s Fund received a heartfelt request from the staff at Emmanuel Children’s Home (who were sadly turning away new children every week due to lack of bedding availability) appealing for help to replace 80 time worn, urine stained, torn, and spring stressed mattresses, as well as a new acquisition of 20 new mattresses and 10 new bunk beds for the youngest children. Abandoned Children’s Fund was able to extend a one-time grant of $10,000 to make it possible for the staff (by upgrading all the worn out mattresses and buying the new bunks) to prepare themselves to accept up to 17 new children into the Home.
We are very grateful to The Abandoned Children’s Fund donors who make possible this kind of investment in the well-being of these precious children. We can’t help every abandoned child, there are many still outside the gate looking for a roof, but we can focus on creating a place for those who find their way in, to re build the shattered emotions and experiences they have been exposed to in their tender youth. I hope this video also informs you that an orphanage “can be” a very brilliant place to live.