The Child Reintegration Centre held an Attachment Theory workshop for newly reintegrated family units to help create a healthy relationship between the caregivers and children. The workshop curriculum focuses on the formation of secure attachment relationships, and teaches caregivers the "Three T's" of Time, Talk, Touch. Children need three things from their parents or caregivers: time spent together, talking together (not just to or at), and touch, like hugs and hand holding.
"I thank God and CRC for this great opportunity to learn today," parent Fatu said. "I am very happy my child is back home and staying with me. I will continue to love him, care for him, and comfort him. I will try hard to always remember the '3 T's' and put them in practice."
"Taking care of a child indeed is really challenging," parent Sao observed. "Especially those that have tasted the street for some period. But I am encouraging all caregivers to do all they can to see the success of these children. What we have learned today, let's try to put in practice and also to pass the knowledge to others."
Isha, a runaway who was reunited with her family, had this to say: "I thank God and the CRC for bringing me back to my family. I have been in the street for four months and life was not really pleasant. No food, shelter, clothes, or caring for me. But now I am back to school, attached back with my family and friend."
Children want to belong to someone, not something."
Christians are exhorted to care for orphans and vulnerable children throughout the Bible, but are orphanages the best way? The second annual Rising Tides conference was an opportunity to engage churches that support global orphanage programs in a conversation about shifting away from institutional care and towards family care. Incorporating the experience of the Child Reintegration Centre in transitioning orphan care to a family-based model of care, the conference aimed to educate and advocate for others to consider changing their vision and transitioning their own model. Rising Tides 2020 was the first conference of its kind to include the voices of church pastors who have helped their congregations navigate this change, in order to ensure that every child has the chance to grow up in a loving family.
Forty people from all over the world attended the two day conference held via Zoom. Attendees participated in discussions and exercises to explore the possibilities and challenges involved with moving orphaned or abandoned children from institutional to family care.
As Pastor Rob Lough of HCW partner Church Ebenezer UMC observed about the process of finding caring homes for orphaned children, "The story becomes more complicated, but it becomes more beautiful. It's the next level of care and love for these children."
"I love this! There aren’t enough US churches sharing about their experience," Elli Oswald, Executive Director of Faith To Action exclaimed. Faith To Action has been a powerful driver behind the global movement to find families for orphaned or abandoned children, and the creators of the Global Pledge endorsed by HCW and dozens of other prominent child-focused organizations.
Caregivers like conference attendee Jotham Kiogora of Tania Children's Home in Kenya deeply understand children's need for a family of their own. "Children are not comfortable in an institution, and the love they have for their families will never change even though they get the best services," Jotham said.
Several "Care Leaders" (those who grew up in institutions but eventually left) shared their experiences growing up in an orphanage, which the attendees found very convicting. "I was struck by their stories...how they were required to speak English in the orphanage home, which helped them communicate effectively with donors, but they lost the ability to speak the language of their families," attendee Sandy Whittle said.
The materials from the conference will be made available on our website soon. The two Zoom sessions are available for viewing at the links below.
By Melody Curtiss, HCW Executive Director
When Mercy Hospital's operating suite opened, Project Cure, through a generous donor, provided a large donation of medical equipment to outfit the new suite. Unfortunately, a surgical table, a very expensive and essential piece of equipment, was not available in Project Cure's warehouse at that time. For the time being, the Mercy surgical team would have to make do without a surgical table.
Missioners Dr. Gary Gilkeson and his wife and HCW board member Mary Ann Gilkeson had connected HCW with the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC) to discuss global health outreach to Africa, and we were stunned and blessed to discover MUSC's enthusiasm, immediate connection to our cause, and their desire to be of assistance. MUSC's Dr. Beth Gray and Dr. Misti Leyva traveled to Sierra Leone with the Gilkesons to collabroate with the Mercy staff. They carried over equipment in their luggage, worked with the medical staff to identify needs they could fulfill, and were planning to return in July 2020 when COVID shut everything down. (You can read more about the Gilkesons and MUSC's involvement in our Summer 2020 Magazine, "Not in my wildest dreams" page 12)
MUSC generously offered to let Kim Nabieu, the Gilkesons, and me roam through their warehouse of surplus medical equipment in Charleston. Miraculously, Kim and Dr. Gilkeson spied a surgical table in the corner of the warehouse. Imagine our delight when MUSC agreed to not only donate the table, but also to store it until it could be shipped, and assist with the crating!
With those matters resolved, we faced a new hurdle. The difficulty was trying to get the bed to Sierra Leone, both in terms of logistics and cost. It took 18 months, miraculous interventions of generous donors to provide for the cost of shipping, and the determination of the Gilkesons, the MUSC staff, and our partner church Bethel UMC, to get the bed from Charleston to Bo. After a year of further delays and complications with the shipping company, HCW's Program Finance Specialist Cynthia Grant (who is also M&E Team Lead and an international negotiation mastermind) was able to team up with Catherine Norman, the UMC Health Coordinator in Sierra Leone, to get the surgical bed to its destination, where it will enable the Mercy surgical staff to perform surgeries and save lives.
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