to think that a looking after six orphans is a full-time job and a constitutes a worthy cause?

(193 Posts)
starfield Sun 21-Apr-13 12:08:33

My friends, both with relevant degrees, are moving themselves and their two small children to another country in order to run a tiny home-from-home orphanage with the aim of providing disadvantaged babies and toddlers with a safe place in which to emotionally and physically heal. The shelter would be a home for up to six children at any one time.

They consider that a sustainable venture requires two additional local carers besides themselves, as some of the children are emotionally troubled and physically very ill and need nursing through the night.

My friends would work hand in hand with local authorities who leave the children with them, then collect them when a local adoption placement or similar has been identified (and the child in question is well enough to go).

They've successfully run an almost identical project before with twice as many children. That came to an end through no fault of their own. Without question, they were instrumental in saving children's lives, especially children who were on some last-chance medications which proved incredibly demanding to administer. I could say a great deal more about this but don't want to give identifying details.

The difference now is that they're starting their own project from scratch.

My friends have a christian faith and would be sharing that with the children where appropriate. However this has not detracted from their professionalism in any way and they're held in respect by government agencies. Their 'home' church here has helped significantly but is not in a position to fund this venture. Nor do they belong to a wealthy religious denomination.

Having seen a project like this in practice, I cannot think of a more worthy cause. But DH tells me that many people (his family included) see missionary work as a lifestyle choice for those who like the sun and dislike the 9-5 grind.

He thinks it will be very difficult to persuade anyone to fund a venture that's trying to make at least three full-time jobs out of caring for six children. After all, many people in the UK have six children and manage to work.

Am I being unreasonable to think that most right-thinking people should consider this venture a worthy cause? If not, could you tell me what would make it a worthy cause?

ithaka Sun 21-Apr-13 12:55:02

What is the host religion of the country they wish to move to? Why did they choose that country?

Those are the questions that I would ask before judging whether it was a 'worthy cause'. There are needy children everywhere, including in the UK, what is it about this country that they have to look after the children there?

Sorry, but experience leads me to believe that laxer child protection laws can be an attraction to 'missionaries'.

"*if you feel strongly about needy children being manipulating into believing in a loving God, why don't you go and care for them so my friends could go home?*"

What a bizarre question. My objection to your friends brainwashing children has zero connection to whether I personally would like to do their job.

You haven't answered if these children are culturally Christian. Because to feel that their calling and care gives your friends the right to change these children's culture is very wrong and very arrogant. They may think their god is loving. Millions (including myself) would disagree.

I have no issue with your friends caring for these needy children and have only the greatest admiration for them doing so. But, if they truly desire only to help these children, they should be able to do so without bringing religion into it. And if they can't separate their religion from their caring, then as dedicated as they may feel they are, then they are in the wrong business.

Sorry, cross posts, I see you have answered that question now.

starfield Sun 21-Apr-13 12:58:19

Tondelayo: They did work on social outreach programmes here, extensively. The age of their own kids meant they could only do respite fostercare. After a couple of years of that and tireless volunteering, (and working full-time alongside that) they felt called to this and it does seem higher-impact. But they very much feel called everywhere in a geographical sense. They also have a deep respect for local culture as part of designed/inspired world and 100% support these children going to local 'forever homes' that have nothing to do with them or their faith.

starfield Sun 21-Apr-13 13:00:40

annie: Why is it bizarre? If you take my friends off the job, these children will be down a set of houseparents. Don't you feel morally obliged to wonder about who will be changing those nappies and giving out hugs? I think you should follow the line of moral thought further than a kneejerk dismissal.

CarpeVinum Sun 21-Apr-13 13:01:33

why don't you go and care for them so my friends could go home?

OR

why don't your friends spend all their time and energy fund-raising for an existing, but very similar, non religious org. to ensure the future and expansion of their projects ?

They are there because they want to be. Spreading their faith is evidently essential to their motivation.

This is clear because your friends would find it easier to fund raise if their religion was strictly part of heir personal life, but wholly separate from the organisation they want to set up and the end users that they intend to serve. Evidently it must be more important to them to maintain the religious aspect of their work than it is to raise enough money to be able to get the project up, running and maintained in the longer term.

That's on them, not people like me who prefer to support endeavours that don't attempt to use charity as a vehicle for religious or political gains.

Doubtitsomehow Sun 21-Apr-13 13:01:38

I've seen loads of projects like this.

Very well intentioned and can sometimes do some short-term good (taking the religious element out). But Tondelayo is right. The solution isn't to fly foreigners in, particularly if there's a religious aspect. It's to develop local services to provide the necessary care, so that the provision can continue long after the outsiders have gone.

As for going to care for the children so your friends can go home....fatuous. Why don't your friends instead support the professional agencies who work on the ground, if they want to help?

MinnieBar Sun 21-Apr-13 13:02:12

The religious aspect is simply unnecessary to the well-being of the children. And who exactly decides when it's 'appropriate'?!

Suggesting that we go and do it ourselves instead is a ridiculous argument - it's reminiscent of George W Bush's mantra 'if you're not with us then you're against us'. Of course we are allowed to criticise jobs, institutions, doctrines, etc. even if we don't do them/aren't part of them ourselves. hmm

TheCrackFox Sun 21-Apr-13 13:04:34

Would it not be a lot more efficient for your friends to raise money here for their cause and pay people from that country to look after the orphans? TBH your DH has a point.

raspberryroop Sun 21-Apr-13 13:04:53

as above - no need for anyone but locals to be trained and involved . And 'singing a few songs about Jesus' is a disingenuous way of say indoctrinated form a young age in a religion not of their own or their families choosing.

starfield Sun 21-Apr-13 13:05:56

ithaka: I'm sorry I don't feel I can give out the name of the host country but I can tell you that it's mixed in a racial/religious sense and is globally notorious for having a rising generation of parentless children.

Please note that my friends are not (a) wishing to adopt or (b) encouraging others at home to adopt. If they were doing that, I could understand the lack of support better, as there are better ways to help. This being one of them.

sleeton Sun 21-Apr-13 13:11:01

(So far) agreed with TondelayoSchwarzkopf's original post and subsequent ones in response to starfield's answering posts.

Starfield is it okay to ask who the 'parent church' is. A UK organisation, I'm guessing, as it is already stretched on social outreach programmes here but perhaps not CofE, or Cof S, or one of the bigger ones, as it is already stretched and your friends' proposal must be quite small in comparison to all of that 'parent church's work.
I am curious.

Also can I ask which country your friends' are proposing their project for and is it the same country as they carried out their last project in ( number of children in the orphanage was unlimited ) and who funded that project and their involvement in it?

MidniteScribbler Sun 21-Apr-13 13:11:39

I'm uncomfortable with this form of 'charity'. It seems that it is more about "spreading the word" and missionary work than caring for children. To use vulnerable young children as a vehicle to try and infiltrate religion. "Here have some clean water, but not until you say a prayer" is blackmail and just feels inappropriate and wrong to me. If you're friends had no religious motivation for this type of work, then I would support them 100%, but their obviously clear intention to act as missionaries rather than genuine charity workers sets off alarms bells and I wouldn't support them.

And I say this as a christian myself.

Mumsyblouse Sun 21-Apr-13 13:12:25

They are making a difference in their own small (huge by my standards) way. It is far from clear that raising money and just handing it over to existing charities is the way foward, especially if it is a country where there is significant corruption. If you saw that TV programme where the guy who was a bus driver in the Uk started supporting a family in a poorer country, he was determined to educate the children of the family, but all the parcels and goods he had sent had been stolen enroute.

I do not have a problem with this, how many people would be prepared to give up their comfortable lives to care for children with multiple health problems (HIV/TB?) possibly to their shortened deaths? Not me, and I thank them for it and am not terribly interested in what their motivation is for this humanitarian act.

Uk children have to engage in an act of Christian worship every day if they want to use state school. To care about singing a few songs with Jesus in (like assembly) is really trivial, unless of course people are prepared to stand by their principles and withdraw their children from UK state education as a protest (disclaimer- I would like to have non-religious education in the Uk, but we don't, and I don't see why parentless children with severe illnesses should be subjected to a higher moral standard about Christian influence than UK children).

TondelayoSchwarzkopf Sun 21-Apr-13 13:21:19

Uk children have to engage in an act of Christian worship every day if they want to use state school.

Not true* and completely irrelevant. And I speak for myself when I say I am actively engaged in the secular movement and the campaign to make state education secular - though I suspect some other posters in this thread are the same.

FWIW Christian Aid does not do missionary work and only employs local people in their programmes.

*it's an act of collective workshop - not necessarily Christian in character. At DS's non-relgious school they 'worship' the diversity of the community they live in.

MidniteScribbler Sun 21-Apr-13 13:27:03

Tondelayo, I teach in a private religious school and I'm still uncomfortable with this form of missionary work. The children in our school are there because their parents have chosen this particular type of faith based education for their children. They aren't there because they would otherwise be starving or without medical attention. We have an excellent standard of state based schooling in our area that is completely non denominational, so parents do have a choice about what their children are learning. That is the big difference to me.

These people could still provide the same level of charity and support for this community without forcing their views on children who have no choice but to accept their "teachings" or else they get turned out on the street to starve.

sleeton Sun 21-Apr-13 13:29:42

Uk children have to engage in an act of Christian worship every day if they want to use state school

I just wanted to say that in the 'catchment' area in which I live none of the primary school offer any religious worship acts, and that includes Christian worship. No prayers, no hymns, no grace before meals, no visiting ministers or clergy. They used to, but no longer.

Not worship, but some of the children's educational matter may include study of many cultures and religions (for example, a geography project did, in one school).
In the local state senior schools they do offer 'Religious Education' as a subject. This subject, I gather, includes study of all religions.

starfield Sun 21-Apr-13 13:39:44

Isn't it significant that these projects are supported and respected by local authorities who would be appalled if they all packed up? Shouldn't we take our lead from them?

I can only think that some posters aren't aware of how wretchedly some children in the world are living.

The need is great here in the UK, of course it is. But the depth and widespread nature of poverty in some other countries is much, much worse. Consequently, there is an obligation for those of us who have been given much to look beyond the horizon of our own, absurdly privileged culture. Our motivation for doing so is likely to be values-driven. For a person with a faith, this will be expressed in spiritual terms.

Children are dying today. To do anything significant about that, you must be wealthy or willing to physically go and do something about it (ideally at the direction of local organisations, but often no such organisation exists). I know that organised religion has a deservedly woeful reputation. But isn't it some vindication that people of faith are willing to give up everything because they feel called to imitate Christ - literally washing feet- when they'd actually far rather be getting a mortgage and living somewhere with no nasty bugs?

Sleeton: I'd love to give you those details but don't have the right to. The last project was a local church funded/foreign aid enterprise so yes, faith-based. My friends stepped back because the local vision was to grow it into a bigger institution. They didn't feel another children's home was sustainable, right for their family, or true to the original concept. When at home, my friends attend an evangelical Christian church that I don't feel able to identify. The local church's social outreach programme is significant by any standards. Relevant to more established denominations, the local social outreach project is proportionately much higher. I'm not aware of the cost of the proposed missionary project relative to that. The local church has put forward a substantial amount in funding but isn't able to pledge more without compromising projects here; something it is not prepared to do.

starfield Sun 21-Apr-13 13:41:41

relative to more established denominations, sorry

Branleuse Sun 21-Apr-13 13:43:15

its a worthy cause, but i wouldnt give any money to it as i think it sounds too religious

MidniteScribbler Sun 21-Apr-13 13:43:35

Starfield, I don't think anyone is denying that anyone willing to go live in difficult conditions and take on challenging work is not doing an amazing thing. BUT they can do it, respect their own faith and not coerce vulnerable people to support their religion. Go, do amazing work, but keep your faith to yourself.

sleeton Sun 21-Apr-13 13:43:47

Mumsyblouse you as how many people would be prepared to give up their comfortable lives to care for children with multiple health problems (HIV/TB?) possibly to their shortened deaths?

When I was at University (a long long time ago, it feels) there was a national programme offering two graduates the opportunity to go for one year to a particularly troubled area of the world, to be part of a programme providing free treatment for a particular illness. The lucky two would be required to provide all their own funding (personal preparation, flights, living on site, etc, etc), would live on site during that year, and would not only have to work full time in atrocious conditions, but would have to submit their own research to the international program tackling this particular illness, at the end of the year.

There were hundreds of applicants for those two places every year!

(yes, I applied, but I'm afraid in my graduation year the two places went to two far far greater minds and abilities than mine! smile )

sleeton Sun 21-Apr-13 13:44:16

* you say (not 'you as')

sleeton Sun 21-Apr-13 13:49:40

They didn't feel another children's home was sustainable, right for their family, or true to the original concept

Do your friends plan on taking their own children with them, starfield, and did they do so when they were on their last overseas project?

TondelayoSchwarzkopf Sun 21-Apr-13 13:49:41

I can only think that some posters aren't aware of how wretchedly some children in the world are living.

Firstly bullshit. I contribute to non-religious aid agencies and read everything they send me. I read about QUALIFIED midwives, paediatricians, surgeons, nurses, healthcare administrators who have given up everything to work in appalling conditions - they aren't 'imitating' christ and they aren't spreading faith - they are providing practical and tangible services and advocating for change. Many of these volunteers are local people.

Secondly, if this is the case, it suggests to me that hundreds of years of missionary outreach programmes haven't worked.

Values are not exclusive to religion.

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