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.
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