Explaining why I’m in Burma so you have context for my rambling thoughts!
I’m currently in Kalay, Myanmar (Burma) visiting homes that we have supported for years. Last trip it felt fun as we just played & enjoyed the children. This time we have linked with a larger charity & I feel like we have real purpose in being here. Last time was great & we are so thankful to our friends & family who help us support these children each month. This time feels deeper though.
Our aim as a charity now is to help the parents of the homes to find another way. Research all shows that children thrive so much more in families than alongside lots of other children in orphanges.
Many children in orphanges are actually not ‘orphans’, it is often a word used and then not technically true! Our friend who heads up the work here,Phil, told us yesterday about a home he went to years ago and met a little boy he’d been explained to as an ‘orphan’. Then this year Phil went to the boys village in the hills & shook hands with the boy’s father! They then work with the village, observe and understand the needs of the community, identify the reason the children have been sent to the orphanage if the first place and assess if, with the charities long term help and support, if any particular child can be reunited with their family.
The options for any child in care would be to firstly assess the parents – is it possible to go home? Another option is Kin-care, is there a family member who can care for them if supported by the charity. Both of these options can involve communities linking and being involved, loans to help develop buisness ventures & therefore helping the family to be self sustaining. Then the final option is to look at fostering the children into a loving family. Especially if returning to the family member or relative is not an option because it is not safe or in the best interests of the child for whatever reason.
Currently in Myanmar a lot of children are brought to orphanages as it is seen as a good option for education or a better financial situation. So it is not always due to death of parents, other factors (like we see in the uk) are drug abuse, illness, incapacity to care, unwanted child & hugely common here is for parents to get divorced & when they remarry the new parent will reject the child.
Our aim in speaking to the orphanage directors is to get them onboard with the journey. To assess each child carefully & individually to see what the very best option for them would be. We would love the homes to reduce in size in order to be better at caring for the children in their care and being more of a family unit than a care home.
The job currently is to explain to each home about this being how we are moving forward. To get them linked into the programme, If they agree. Yet if a home wanted to only remain an orphanage with no aim to move forward or to look at doing what is best for the children, we would need to gradually end our support. As we cannot fund something that is long term damaging with no intention to grow or change. We wouldn’t want this to happen yet it is the only way.
So it’s big! It’s a lot of talks. Me & Lawrence are here because we have relationship with three homes. Not a lot, but that’s 40 children that we feel the responsibility of. If we can help even one child to have the love of family then we have done something. As we are now part of the charity Heavens Family UK (and with our big sister Heavens Famiy USA) we have a lot more homes and I feel so honoured to be a part of these meetings & helping to bring a message that God loves us each individually & so we must look to really love & help each child individually. To really see them, as He does. Also we are linking with social workers as the process requires very careful assessment, to ultimately do the best we can with what God has given us.
Our main meeting with our largest home is tomorrow. Please pray for us as we lead it. We so appreciate all that the parents do and recognise how amazing they are, yet need to explain the best way forward as we see it. Please pray for Phil as he leads us and all the work here, he is a humble & talented guy who needs a lot of support and encouragement. Please get in touch with anything you feel for us. X