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?

nicewatch Sun 21-Apr-13 12:12:43

No religious involvement would make it a worthy cause, by my definition.

Sorry, I have huge ethical problems with missionary work. I would not donate to or otherwise support any missionary project.

scaevola Sun 21-Apr-13 12:15:00

I think that if it is missionary work, then the parent church should be funding it.

I think your friends are wonderful. Your DH is being ridiculous- how many families have 6 children with such complex needs?

Re: the religious aspect- I am not in any way religious myself, but I really do respect people who practise their faith in this way. It's one of the best aspects of Christianity.

Wish I was wealthy enough to contribute.

NotYoMomma Sun 21-Apr-13 12:15:48

What country?
Is it Christian?
If the kids weren't Christian would their religious desires be ok etc etc?

MajaBiene Sun 21-Apr-13 12:16:35

I agree - using emotionally and physically vulnerable children to push your religion is totally unethical.

LittleBairn Sun 21-Apr-13 12:17:03

I'm a Christian and I would not finically support them. The whole 'sharing' their faith with vulnerable children who will need them in order to stay safe and possibly even alive is taking advantage.
There are many good people who are christians who do this sort of work but never mention or 'share' their faith that's the sort of people I support. Good people who try to make a difference with no agenda.

SirBoobAlot Sun 21-Apr-13 12:17:45

It would be worthwhile and wonderful if it wasn't actually an attempt to spread their faith instead of help children.

It is a missionary project.

LittleBairn Sun 21-Apr-13 12:19:19


I do not donate money to any organised religion, ever.
And I never will.

By the sounds of it, they don't plan to preach at anyone- but will be open about their own beliefs and share them if asked to. I think that's fair enough. Given that it is a family doing this out of their own initiative, I'm far less twitchy about it than I would be if it was some sort of charismatic church funding the whole thing.

Also- not all churches are so well funded.

Its not a worthy cause if it has conditions attached, in this case the children will be taken in and taught about the God your friends believe in and in my ooinion will be manipulated into believinng the same things. I wouldn't help fund this on that basis.

LadyPeterWimsey Sun 21-Apr-13 12:24:32

Ha! at missionary work being an easy option if you don't like 9 to 5... Especially if looking after vulnerable children is involved. Having known many (100s? of) missionaries, I can't think of a single case where their lives wouldn't have been much, much easy in their home countries.

I'm afraid, OP, that for many people the mention of sharing their faith will automatically invalidate what your friends are doing, but I do wish them the best.

TondelayoSchwarzkopf Sun 21-Apr-13 12:24:53

Wouldn't the money be better spent on training and supporting individuals and families in the area to run these projects. Surely it's pretty expensive to fly and fund four people used to a particular standard of living and specific cultural norms to a place where poor health, poverty and infrastructural problems are rife. Religion aside, it is quite paternalistic.

pickledginger Sun 21-Apr-13 12:26:47

^ that.

greenteawithlemon Sun 21-Apr-13 12:29:55

I don't think it is a mission trip.

They're not over there preaching or building churches.

If you discount all of the charity work done overseas by people who have faith then you would have to discount a huge, huge proportion of it.

What about organisations like tearfund or Islamic relief? They're faith-based organisations but they're definitely not missionaries.

Faith provides the motivating factor but it's not the aim . And I say that as a confirmed artheist and someone who is very sceptical about Westerners taking various religions to developing countries.

Depending on what country it is, the children may well already be Christians.

I don't know how we'll designed or sustainable a project this is, but OP, how on earth are your friends going to do it without any funding?

greenteawithlemon Sun 21-Apr-13 12:31:35


insanityscratching Sun 21-Apr-13 12:33:26

TondelayoSchwarzkopf voices my thoughts exactly.

crashdoll Sun 21-Apr-13 12:34:11

Wouldn't the money be better spent on training and supporting individuals and families in the area to run these projects. Surely it's pretty expensive to fly and fund four people used to a particular standard of living and specific cultural norms to a place where poor health, poverty and infrastructural problems are rife. Religion aside, it is quite paternalistic.

My sentiments exactly.

Well, it certainly is a very worthy cause and I have the greatest admiration for your friends for doing it. It sounds like incredibly hard work.

However, if the children are not culturally Christian, they would be very wrong to impose their own set of religious beliefs on these children. It would amount to little more than brainwashing the vulnerable. They should keep faith out of it entirely.

greenteawithlemon Sun 21-Apr-13 12:41:47

If you read the OP, two out of the four carers will be local people.

With a project like this, you do need to fly a couple of people out to do the training and supervise things- you can't just send money and expect things to get done.

starfield Sun 21-Apr-13 12:42:11

Thanks so much for these opinions.

To those who feel my friends are trying to spread their religion, rather than help children, I have a question: 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?

Or would you prefer that my friends stayed here in the first place, knowing that they wouldn't be able to keep their faith under wraps if they acted according to their conscience and went off to help needy children?

You make it sound like my friends are giving them cancer!

I wish you could have seen them in the last project, where the number of children in the orphanage was unlimited and their energies were drained, rather than used. They were incredibly sleep deprived, caring for children who would die if they didn't keep going. They gave up health, strength, security - everything that most of us feel entitled to work towards. What they said to the children was pretty immaterial at that point. They believed they were acting as they'd been called to. How could anyone do anything but respect that?

Tondelayo: Of course the money would be better spent on supporting locals to run the projects and handing the thing over to locals (though they would consider it paternalistic to assume that locals ^need training^). But the reality is that it isn't happening there at the moment, and it's difficult to demonstrate the value of something if you're not actually doing it yourself at the time.

Re: the parent church funding it - ideally yes of course. But their church is small and already stretched on social outreach programmes here.

TondelayoSchwarzkopf Sun 21-Apr-13 12:47:46

"you do need to fly a couple of people out to do the training and supervise things"


TondelayoSchwarzkopf Sun 21-Apr-13 12:48:55

Starfield why don't they work on the social outreach programmes here?

starfield Sun 21-Apr-13 12:50:12

Children are coming from a mixture of backgrounds and absolutely nothing is expected from them in terms of a faith-based response. They're prayed for before they go to sleep. Some songs about Jesus. That sort of thing.

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?


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.

FreudiansSlipper Sun 21-Apr-13 13:52:38


my dad is very involved with a school in Sri Lanka for children with special needs. It is religiously run (Christian) but then the people of Sri Lanka are often very religious. children from all faiths are pupils

I would prefer it not to be pushing christianity quite so much but this is a country where options are limited, many of my family and family friends have become vey religious mainly because they have escaped extreme poverty and are thankful for that and beleive that god has helped them and their father has grown

The school has not been built to push religion on to children it has been built and is run to help children who are in despite need of help, just so happens those that have done this are vey religious people themselves and want to share a message that has helped them

HappyMummyOfOne Sun 21-Apr-13 13:55:16

The christain ethos to it and the fact it benefits children abroad and not here will put many people off funding it.

Surely they would be better fostering in the uk? Do their children get any say in the matter?

FreudiansSlipper Sun 21-Apr-13 13:56:19

faith has grown .... Not father

starfield - I'm not dismissive of your friends' work. I have said I admire them greatly for doing it. My dismissal is of their need to bring religion into it.

starfield Sun 21-Apr-13 13:59:31

midnite: Thanks and I do understand that. But it's not as simple as keeping it to themselves. How do they share their faith with their own children and avoid the others when they are quite literally opening their home? How do they explain their motivation without referring to their faith (without which they would very definitely not be there)? Even more difficult- what if they promoted themselves to the rest of the world as a secular agency and then the rest of the world discovered they were closet Christians? Can they actually win here? And what can they say to an orphaned child that is carefully drained of any personal faith? 'We don't know where Mummy is' would not be true for them. 'People like you believe Mummy is in...' likewise doesn't seem right.

sleeton: You're not grasping the importance of experience and commitment - being prepared to have a very interesting gap year is not at all the same as being prepared to live somewhere for as long as it takes to make a project locally sustainable. And an enthusiastic junior doctor is not the same as an experienced surgeon, for example.

insanityscratching Sun 21-Apr-13 13:59:41

Dd's school raises funds for a local midwife who goes to train women in other countries how to deliver babies thereby hoping to reduce maternal and neonatal deaths. I am more than happy to support something like this and that one midwife is potentially saving many lives for relatively very little cost.
I wouldn't support any projects with a religious foundation tbh but when you compare your friends' costs to the number of lives saved it seems a poor use of funds when there are many other projects that could be supported.

manicinsomniac Sun 21-Apr-13 14:01:21

Of course it's a worthy cause. It sounds similar to a project I support in Brazil. I take my children out there to volunteer in the orphanage quite frequently in summer holidays etc but the idea of doing it day in, day out all year round in a strange country is something I couldn't cope with. I think your friends are amazing people.

From the sound of it, they aren't doing any faith pushing. They are just sharing their faith in what is a natural way when interacting with small children. They probably can't divorce their faith from their everyday lives, it will be the integral part of it.

However, I don't see how the UK could fund it as a 'job' as such. To me that kind of thing is volunteer work run by wonderful people who have the means to finance it themselves or the links with local governments/agencies abroard to fund them.

CarpeVinum Sun 21-Apr-13 14:08:13

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

I lived in Thailand for five years far outside of an expat bubble, and Black May happened right outside my front door. I'm aware. I am also aware of how chairty can be more about the wants of the provider and less about the needs of recipients as a result of my time there.

I still won't support people who make religious/poltical ideals part of the package for end users of their charity.

So your friends get to choose. More funding, or keep the faith as an element. Since they won't let go of the faith that tells me all I need to know about their priorities. And that is a priority I cannot and will not support in any shape or form.

They are able to provide similar support far far more than six children in the country they are interested in going to with their earning power here in the UK, either working in fundraising for a charity or getting good jobs and sending everything in excess of their most basic needs to an efficient charity organisation. Equally they could work for a political pressure group here to try to get the local government in that country to provide care for these children internally.

Their interest is therefore NOT solely in saving children's lives, it is in going to that country to live and provide primary care to a small number of children in a religious context.

It's evidently not a situation like Rwanda's, which has a national shortage of midwives, for instance, making it an urgent necessity for qualified midwives to go there and volunteer, so I'm not saying that there is never a need for individuals to volunteer in the developing world.

If their desire is to simply relocate and their own church doesn't think it is a cause that they need to fund, then I'm not sure they are right to expect other people to fund them. If they want to go that badly, then they should save for a few years until they can self-fund.

starfield Sun 21-Apr-13 14:10:42

tondelayo: I'm sorry if I gave the impression that I thought values are exclusive to religion. I don't. I meant that in this instance, the values aren't exclusive to religion and it's unfair to expect it be so.

Regarding, qualifications, you're underestimating my friends. They are qualified and have worked really hard to have a skill to contribute that will make a difference. (I meant foot washing in a metaphorical sense.) I find it quite offensive that you assume a Christian aid worker will be less equipped and less respectful. I realise this was the old way, but times are changing.

sleeton: Yes, they took their kids and will do so again. If a better project for the area turned out not to be the best fit for them as a family, of course they wouldn't impose something that didn't work as well. However, their own qualifications and experience have led them to believe that all achildren (including their own) thrive in family settings, rather than larger institutions. This is not intuitive in the country they are returning to.

raspberryroop: How do you propose to begin a successful, values-driven project in a community that doesn't presently have the resources or motivation to do this, without anyone being on site? Absurd.

maddening Sun 21-Apr-13 14:15:09

Why can't your friends do it without the religious angle?

There is nothing stopping them observing their own faith while being there but if this is not the faith that the children were born in to then it does seem wrong to cajole them into Christianity when they are emotionally and physically ill babies and toddlers.

They can pray for them in private.

They should sing local songs to them, ensure they are in touch with the culture to which they will be returned when your friends pass them for adoption etc and even teach them about their own (the children's) religion rather their Christian beliefs.

Obviously if they are asked about their own faith they can discuss it but no it does not sit right to take vulnerable children and evangelise them.

If they can remove the evangelical aspect then I am sure that they would get more funding. If they can't then it isn't completely altruistic on their part is it?

sleeton Sun 21-Apr-13 14:18:23

Starfield you will notice that I said this >

"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" etc.

< in answer to _Mumsyblouse_ 's question:

"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?"

to illustrate that many, many people (no doubt in all walks of life) will "give up their comfortable lives" etc.

I did not say (that particular post) to you, or in relation to your friend's particular project. Indeed, I even quoted Mumsyblouse 's question, to make it clear what question I was answering.

I therefore find it particularly patronising that you feel able to judge what I may or may not be grasping. Re: Sleeton: You're not grasping the importance of experience and commitment etc.

kungfupannda Sun 21-Apr-13 14:18:36

I agree with your DH, I'm afraid.

Very noble of these people, obviously, but I wouldn't personally support it as a venture for three reasons:

1) The religious aspect - you say yourself that they wouldn't be going if it wasn't for their faith. If their faith is that big a deal then they are realistically going to be pushing it, whether consciously or instinctively.

2) Cost-effectiveness. This is a tiny project that is going to cost a disproportionate amount of money. That money could almost certainly be better spent in a different way, possibly on an existing project. They wouldn't have the hands-on, personal involvement that they want, but if their motivation is purely to help, then they presumably wouldn't mind helping from a distance.

3) Sustainability. This isn't going to be a project that can expand and outlive them. It is them opening their home and family to a very small, select number of children. They didn't want their last project to expand, presumably because they wanted that hands-on, family-setting involvement.

It sounds to me like the idea is a bit of a mish-mash of conflicting wishes and approaches. If they want to run a project with external funding and support, then they need to accept that the people providing that funding will want to look to the future and to opportunities to expand the assistance being offered, probably with a view to UK involvement ceasing at some point.

If, however, this is an altruistic, personal mission, then they need to accept that they are going to have to fund it themselves.

You simply aren't going to get wider support for an individual family going into a deprived area, setting up home there and taking in a very small number of children, particularly with the religious aspect.

maddening Sun 21-Apr-13 14:21:10

Re the question of a multi faith home - well they exist here where each parent has a different faith.

As christians exactly how much is in the home and how much do toddlers ask about sucb things?

Could they make links with the local leaders of the local religion and ensure the children have guidance in their own religion?

Madmum24 Sun 21-Apr-13 14:22:36

Give a man a fish and feed him for a day, teach him to fish and feed him for a lifetime.......

Whilst I think it is a wonderfully honourable/sacrificing/noble thing to do I wouldn't be able to justify the amount of money that that would take for two "foreigners" to essentially be employed. It would make much more sense to raise funds and employ people who are perhaps destitute/vunerable to do this job, ideally being a win-win situation. If your friends feel a "calling" then they should raise the money themselves (although I can't see it be sustainable on a long term basis)

I do think in all of these type of things a need for self gratification/worth is involved, such as school trips to orphanages in Africa etc where the trip may cost £1000 per head and they only "help" for a week, whereas if they donated the money instead would be much more helpful.

I can't see how songs about Jesus before bed is going to help their plight?

Are the friends in the medical profession? What ages are their children?

NatashaBee Sun 21-Apr-13 14:25:26

Agree exactly with MadMum. They may help these 6 orphans, but what does it do to help the tide of future orphans (or the reason why children are being orphaned in the first place)?

starfield Sun 21-Apr-13 14:25:28

notyounaanbraed: I see your point. They've been saving for years. I've known this couple for a decade and can assure you of that. Everyone else is upwardly mobile and they stand out as being totally unmaterialistic. Regarding being able to fund more children's work from home - yes and no. Home communities as a whole tend to give more if they're able to have personal contact with a community abroad. Consequently, when they're running an established project, my friends would almost certainly be able to raise more over the course of their lifetime by living there.

You're right in that their interest is not just about saving these children's lives. That doesn't meant that their primary objectives are spiritual though, and the job could be farmed out to an employee if they didn't have a spiritual agenda! Have you tried to show love to a child without a family - demonstrating how family love works and what stability looks like? Lived and worked it? I have had the privilege of doing this. It's demanding and very person specific. In a country where many people have lost their own families and are focusing on survival, it is asking a lot that they produce people with the necessary resources just like that. You can pay people to diligently and competently provide childcare but that's not at all the same thing. (Hence in this country we consider fostercare preferable to a children's home).

sweetmelissa Sun 21-Apr-13 14:26:35

I am a foster carer and one of the (many) Social Services rules is that we are not allowed to influence the religion of the children we care for. Indeed if the children's birth families wished the children to worship in any particular faith we would be obligated to enable them to do that. I therefore wondered how it was possible for your friends to encourage the LO's in the Christian faith - not saying they are wrong at all, just I wondered how it was allowed.

thermalsinapril Sun 21-Apr-13 14:29:47

I think it sounds fantastic, and yes a very worthy cause. It doesn't sound like a cushy lifestyle to me, quite the opposite. It sounds hard work, challenging and requiring a lot of energy.

I can't see any problem with the spiritual input, as long as it's not pushy or OTT. After all, many children grow up in religious families so it's no different IMHO.

starfield Sun 21-Apr-13 14:34:20

sleeton: I find it strange that you respond to a question about caring for child, knowing they will die, to the point that they die, with an anecdote about a gap year. I thought everyone knew that gap years were popular. The question raised was about something that would require so much more experience and commitment (and therefore much bigger sacrifice). That was why I thought you didn't grasp what was required. I'm sorry to have offended you, it was rather patronising.

Madmum24 Sun 21-Apr-13 14:37:41

However OP "family love" in the UK may be a very different concept to a struggling, destitute, impoverished family in a very poor country. A father may desperately love his daughter but prostitutes her on a weekly basis to feed her for example; to us this is something totally unheard of and far from "family love" but to some it is a way of survival. Obviously I am not advocating it but I can't see how two people (no matter how unmaterialistic they are) can possibly go to a poverty stricken country and teach children "family love" when they have not grown up/experienced that life for themselves.

Why didn't they continue with respite care in UK? There are many vuberable children in UK that need respite care, it would be hugely rewarding for them, they get paid, parents get a much needed break, and children can have some fun. (Although I suspect thyat permission would need to be sought regarding prayers/songs)

kungfupannda Sun 21-Apr-13 14:38:14

I think the inclusion of a "spiritual agenda" makes me uncomfortable for more than one reason.

Obviously the major concern I would have about this project would be that of using vulnerable children to further a religious agenda - even if that was considerably lower down the priority list than simply loving and caring for them.

The other issue I would have would be that you can't take these people's personal wants and needs out of the equation in a way that you could if they were simply raising money for projects outside their own family. An aspect of this project is obviously their wish to be personally involved, and that arises, in part at least, from their faith. This project is going to be a manifestation, in part, of their wish to practice their personal faith. It is going to bring them spiritual fulfillment.

That is fine - no-one is suggesting that people should only do things that they don't enjoy or want to do. But it does mean that they are, to some extent at least, wanting external funding for something that they want to do. And they want to do it in a particular way - not through funding a project that is entirely run by local people, not through starting a small project with a view to growing it and making it sustainable, but through living their own personal lives in a particular way.

And that is fine. it doesn't detract from the fact that they are potentially going to do an amazing thing. But I do think that it puts the onus on them to fund it and manage it themselves, from their wish to help and their need to practice their faith in this way.

It strikes me as quite an old-fashioned, almost British Empire type way of going about things. I think these days people are far more savvy about how effective charity work and funding can be, and are much more discerning about where that money goes, and how much UK involvement is actually healthy or helpful.

JumpingJackSprat Sun 21-Apr-13 14:41:12

I wouldnt support people indoctrinating vulnerable children, no.

TondelayoSchwarzkopf Sun 21-Apr-13 14:42:56

I am leaving this thread now OP but please re-read your last paragraph - it says something very different to me than you may have intended:

"In a country where many people have lost their own families and are focusing on survival, it is asking a lot that they produce people with the necessary resources just like that. You can pay people to diligently and competently provide childcare but that's not at all the same thing."

Madmum24 Sun 21-Apr-13 14:49:59

^ cos only the rich white westerners can teach poor people how things are supposed to be done.

RosemaryandThyme Sun 21-Apr-13 14:50:29

I feel sorry for their own children.

Being up-rooted by parents who are putting the needs of other, unknown children before their needs is very selfish, religious zeal is just an excuse for the parents to do what they want to.

Has the country they are attempting to occupy actually asked for them to come ?
Have their own children been pushing their parents to leave school, friends, family and familiarity to set up shop in a god forsaken dirt ridden whole that everyone else is trying to get out of ?

MsGee Sun 21-Apr-13 14:51:23

I work in funding in the charity sector. Very few funders would support this - because of the religious aspect, the fact that its parachuting in a solution rather than looking for a local solution to support families stay together (trust me, i have discussed support for orphanages with many funders) and its unsustainable. Without the support of a recognised development charity it would raise too many concerns.

starfield Sun 21-Apr-13 14:52:45

madmum: Yes to your question. Kids are young. I'd agree if it worked in practice to hire people 'cold'. How would you even advertise it? '24/7 Children's worker'?

kungfupanda: The project is expandable but in a sustained way. My friends plan their family project as a model; the hope is that other families, both here and there, will be able to see what fostering within the context of a supportive community looks like. It's ambitious but the goal is to show that sustainable outreach can start with a family. And the project would incorporate that. If husband and I were to die, I would hate my daughter to be in a children's home (which we know is not emotionally adequate, I hope). I would be happy to see her in a supported family environment with dedicated houseparents.

We can see in our own culture that life is much more likely to be unsuccessful for children who aren't loved and made to feel wanted and secure in a family environment. The same thing is true for other countries. Are we saying that they only 'deserve' the lowest, most utilitarian intervention, on the basis that anything else is more expensive and cannot be justified? Even when we know that a generation of children raised in institutions is much more likely to produce adults who are more vulnerable and less able to promote their own welfare, both individually and as a society?

I can see there isn't the kind of support for this project that I'd hoped there would be. It's saddening.

starfield Sun 21-Apr-13 14:59:55

msgee: You haven't read my post. The project has local government agency support and has been modelled successfully already. This is an idea that has been developed in conjunction with local aid - no parachute, although I can see that it would strengthen your response if it was. If you're experienced in this field, you'll be aware that a short-term emergency foster-care centre would be advantageous to keeping families together longer-term. Ideally, this is how local government agencies would use the facility (although it often isn't possible, hence the time spent with my friends more often being used to identify the right placement). I find it strange that you cannot differentiate between an orphanage and what is being discussed here, as the local authorities are not using the facility in that context and are clearly capable of telling the difference.

Pigsmummy Sun 21-Apr-13 15:00:11

Why are they are trying this o. Their own rather than working with global agencies who have the experience and funding available?

Also out of interest what degree is considered relevant to such work? Have they considered the needs of their own children regards nutrition, safety and education?

kungfupannda Sun 21-Apr-13 15:00:48

Then if they are hoping to be involved in a sustainable and expandable project, they are going to need to accept that the religious aspect is going to have to fall by the wayside in order to attract funding.

There's a big difference between people who happen to be Christians doing something because they feel it is of benefit to a wider community, and people doing something because their faith is driving them, and with the intention of sharing that faith as part of the project.

Again, it seems to me to be a mish-mash of personal aspirations, spiritual agendas and practical intentions.

RealityQuake Sun 21-Apr-13 15:01:10

OP, it's rather patronising to think that the best solution to the problem is to send westerners in. It has been shown time and again that this type of aid doesn't work well. tends to recreate cycles of problems, and reduces the skills in an area. There has been even more written by local people themselves on the conflict that religious aid has brought to areas. The best solution now, to help those kids now, is to support their local area and local people now.

TenBitSailor Sun 21-Apr-13 15:02:09

Would they be prepared to do it without the religious aspect?

starfield Sun 21-Apr-13 15:04:40

rosemary: What a charming way to talk about an underdeveloped country! In response to your questions, I can only say that these parents are, as you'd imagine, highly tuned into their own children and utterly devoted to them. They've chosen a country where healthcare is accessible for their own children. I expect they'd be damned either way for that. But there still a risk, yes.

StuntGirl Sun 21-Apr-13 15:05:52

What the actual fuck are you trying to ask star? As far as I can see this thread simply seems like an opportunity for you to have a go at everyone who doesn't feel religion has a place in charitable support?

raspberryroop Sun 21-Apr-13 15:06:53

Starfield - because its money the 'locals' need, not our expertise and knowhow - such a colonial fucking view point you have, even if its wrapped up in niceties. Its not complicated and what they are really doing is just a grown up version of students gap year - how ever worthy you think it is . It's a personal gratification exercise, rather than a targeted and empirically efficient use of funds in a long term sustainable and/or self reproducing local enterprise.

starfield Sun 21-Apr-13 15:08:24

tenbit: I don't think they would. Not because they don't care about the cause enough though. You'd have to meet them to understand how truly impossible it would be for them to do that successfully. They understand what they do in terms of it being an outworking of what has been done for them by Jesus - I have no idea how they would ever be able to leave it at the door. They're pathetic at keeping secrets.

MsGee Sun 21-Apr-13 15:09:43

Then why aren't they going there and supporting local families to do this? Rather than setting up their own? If the model is proven the next step would be for local families to implement it not UK ones. They could so that without setting up their own? Does the model that proven include religion? If its with local agencies would they not pay for it?

Ok it's not an orphanage - poor choice of words on my part. Bit it's not what funders believe to be best practice. It's still a Uk couple going over and doing, rather than supporting a local community to do it.

kungfupannda Sun 21-Apr-13 15:12:37

I think there certainly is an implication that no-one in this local community is capable of providing care to the standard of this couple.

There are wonderful, caring, selfless people in every corner of the world - you hear stories about them all the time - and I would have thought that a project could be structured around suitable local carers, with all funding being directed towards supporting them and recruiting more.

There wouldn't be anything to stop the UK-based team from spending time there and offering guidance and support, but I don't see the benefit or the need for a UK couple to go in and show the locals how to offer love to a disadvantaged child. Unless, of course, the people involved genuinely don't think that people in that country/area are capable of loving and caring for children as well as people in the UK.

Pigsmummy Sun 21-Apr-13 15:12:41

Reading this more I think that this isn't about "a friend" at all.

Also if this project is based on tried and tested existing (succesful) projects then why is there concerns about funding and it being a worthy cause?

TenBitSailor Sun 21-Apr-13 15:12:58

No, then, I couldn't support this.

I, like many other posters, believe it is a warped exercise in self-gratification and pseudo altruism.

TenBitSailor Sun 21-Apr-13 15:14:07

If kungfu's idea of a project were in question, then yes, I would support it.

ImTooHecsyForYourParty Sun 21-Apr-13 15:15:30

If the government of that country said to them - this is a lovely thing you are doing, we are very grateful. Our only condition is that you do not teach them anything about christianity, no hymns, no mention of Jesus, no christian education at all...

And the government checked up on it. And it was not possible to get round it.

would they still go over there and have those orphans?

If the answer is yes, then they are doing a good thing. If the answer is no, then they are not.

starfield Sun 21-Apr-13 15:19:26

stuntgirl - when posting the thread, I was asking -naively- is anyone disagreed with me in thinking this was a great idea. I thought that anyone who disagreed would do so on the grounds that there was a better way to help. Then I was disappointed and irritated by the negative response without a practical alternative that valued what we'd consider best practice for children here. And I was taken aback by the negativity surrounding the sharing of faith in any context at all, as if it was wrong to do so. And I was incensed by the idea that its easy to sensitively resource an underdeveloped country.

But yes, I agree with you. My AIBU is answered and perhaps the usefulness of the thread is over.

TenBitSailor Sun 21-Apr-13 15:21:15

I think you need to take a close look at the negative impact missionary work has had on many tribal areas of Africa

Jinsei Sun 21-Apr-13 15:22:16

Sorry OP, but I agree with those who say that there are much better ways of providing the care that is needed for these children. I am well aware of the wretchedness of the lives led by many children around the world, and I do all that I can to contribute. However, as others have pointed out, sending a couple of westerners out there to provide primary care is paternalistic, not cost-effective and unsustainable in the longer term. There are many organisations that I would prioritise over and above the venture that you describe.

Also, I wouldn't ever support a charity with a "spiritual agenda" in any case. That's not to say that I don't have the utmost respect for those who do good work that is motivated by their religious beliefs, but when sharing those beliefs becomes part of the work itself, I feel that they have crossed a line. There are many, many Christians (and atheists and people of other faiths) who do fantastic work under the auspices of secular charities. I would not be willing to support any aid project that seeks to promote a particular religious agenda.

starfield Sun 21-Apr-13 15:22:42

raspberryroop: You didn't respond at all, you just said 'fuck and targeted and empirical' all in the same sentence! And if you don't know the difference between spending a crazy year visiting a community and devoted the best part of your life to nursing dying children and being there for all of it know what, we haven't anything to talk about. Let's leave it.

"And I was taken aback by the negativity surrounding the sharing of faith in any context at all, as if it was wrong to do so."

Wow. "as if" if it's wrong to inflict your personal brand of faith on other people, especially children? Of course it's wrong! I'm amazed you can't see that.

starfield Sun 21-Apr-13 15:24:56

tenbit: I have. I've studied it and written papers on it. It's shaming and humiliating. My friends are different and so are many younger Christians - there is a desire to learn and change and hand over direction and leadership and resources.

raspberryroop Sun 21-Apr-13 15:26:44

Starfield - you may talk priddy - but it still all religious patronising shite

TenBitSailor Sun 21-Apr-13 15:27:37

And how is that 'desire' any different from previous generations' pseudo altruism?

Gingerandcocoa Sun 21-Apr-13 15:29:05

I think that what your friends are doing is a wonderful, selfless thing, but I do see people's points that your friends' project probably won't appeal to non-Christians, if part of what they're doing is to share some of their beliefs with the children.

I imagine most of their funding will probably come from Christians - I know I would be happy to contribute to something like this.

starfield Sun 21-Apr-13 15:29:21

Wow indeed, Annie. I can see how it could be wrong, yes. But not always. Not when done well. We don't need to agree on this and we're not going to agree. We obviously have very different experiences of faith and what sharing faith looks like. I'm saddened at the gulf in outlook, but long as we're able to collaborate in giving and serving, let's just get on with it.

NotYoMomma Sun 21-Apr-13 15:30:11

My Catholic adoptive mother delights in telling me God and Catholic church are the reason I am here today.

.... It's very wearing.

I don't believe but I am still full of 'Christian' guilt.

I don't think they should mention religion at all, and if the children ask then the respond should be 'because we care about you and love you and want to help you' rather than 'our faith says... or 'God sent us...' etc etc

Booboostoo Sun 21-Apr-13 15:31:30

If your friends feel a moral obligation to go help needy children in another country, whether its motivation is religious or not, that is very admirable. My only word of caution is that they should research very carefully the needs of the children and the existing provisions so that their contribution can be as effective as possible.

If however they want to spread their religion and share their religious values to others they should do so with adults who have a choice and completely separately from any aid they wish to offer. Otherwise the admirable wish to help gets mixed up with the dubious desire to proselytise.

starfield Sun 21-Apr-13 15:33:09

notyomomma thanks for that, I will remember it. Off to care for my own DD, a chastened, wiser momma.

Doubtitsomehow Sun 21-Apr-13 15:35:06

You say that the project has local govt agency support. Really? How exactly? Are they committing funds?

Local govt agencies in really resource-poor countries are often desperate for cash, and will provide warm words of support for external projects just to get some money into the system. Problem is, of course, that their own funding is then diverted from the services the external project is funding...and when the external funds dry up, there's a gap in service provision for people (here, vulnerable children) who really need it.

And that's ignoring the religious dimension which is indefensible really.

Your friends mean well op. but as someone said up thread, no decent external funder will touch this. A church might, but not one with development expertise. Your mates mean well but are misguided; your DH is right.

maddening Sun 21-Apr-13 15:35:25

But why couldn't your friends help the children in their care whilst teaching them about their own local/native religion - whichever one that is? Surely the last thing that dying children need is a new religious ideal being taught to them rather than the security of the one they have known from birth.

If your friends are dedicated to helping children in a specific area then they could  learn themselves the local traditions and customs, children's songs and stories and maintain a cultural norm for them within a loving household. There is no need for them tho be teaching Christianity in order for them to be successful and they can continue to observe their own religion themselves

BegoniaBampot Sun 21-Apr-13 15:38:53

I know a couple here who adopted 6 kids from a very troubled background. They have to support these kids and work just like everyone else. I think they actually do deserve help and financial help considering what they have taken on. i wish your friends well but I am in awe of the couple i know who just quietly got on with suddenly going from having none to having 6 troubled kids.

kungfupannda Sun 21-Apr-13 15:42:50

OP, I have to ask, are you actually one of the "friends"?

It's just that your response to NotYoMamma's very sensible post was as though she had directly criticised you.

Not that it makes any difference - I'm just curious.

raspberryroop Sun 21-Apr-13 15:44:25

I have friends who are committed evangelical Christians, they have fostered 35 children and babies over 40 years in this county - WITHOUT ever feeling the need to sing a few little song about Jesus or pray for the children before bedtime.

socareless Sun 21-Apr-13 15:45:16

Hi OP, I have no problem with what your friends are planning to do based on what you have written. I think its commendable. The West is becoming aggressively anti christainity/religion hence the very hostile response even at the prospect of children dying. People claim to understand but the lives you talk about are so far removed that their secular ideology matters more.

Good luck and all the best

A colleague of my mum's is from Zimbabwe. She funds a small orphanage back in Zimbabwe along with a couple of other people. It's small about 10 children I think and is entirety staffed by local women who have lost their own families or are destitute. Many of the children have life limiting illnesses. I believe 6 women live and work there. My mum has asked her colleague how we can support or help the project. C has said she doesn't need anything (except for some big sized bras!) as the project is running well and is supported by the local community. The children are growing up in what is the closest to an extended family, local women have homes and jobs and the children's cultural identity is being supported. So yes, it is possible for locals to do 24/7 child care.

It all seems a bit white man's burden and not very sustainable.

raspberryroop Sun 21-Apr-13 15:49:37

No we understand that you feel the need to push your faith on to helpless and incredibly vulnerable children. It is possible to stop people dying without singing about Jesus to them - I know its a shocking revelation to you but Its true honest it is !

Just for fun I will tell you a story about missionaries. It is not a representative sample, I'm sure the friends in this example would act differently.

I was in a raft going down an African river. It tipped first one way, then the other. The mixture of people aboard found themselves in the water. I was left in there with one of the missionaries. She cowered in the bottom of the boat and I got up to look for the missing rafters. I turned to her and said, "what should we do", she said, "GET BACK DOWN". I ignored her and managed to drag the others back on board.

When asked what she was doing by someone else during the time they were in the crocodile-infested, white water danger, she replied, "praying".

Sunnywithshowers Sun 21-Apr-13 15:52:01

I'm an atheist, but support the Christian Aid model. Projects are instigated and run by local people, who understand their local communities and are committed to helping them. They give help to people of all faiths and none. There is no proselytizing - it's about helping people on the ground.

Parachuting in well-meaning people from a completely different culture doesn't work in the long run, and takes resources away from local projects. And preaching Christianity to those children is not what they need.

Viviennemary Sun 21-Apr-13 15:54:56

If they feel they want to help they should offer themselves to an established organisation for overseas aid. That would be the best way forward. And then they would get proper training before they go and support whilst they were there.

sleeton Sun 21-Apr-13 15:55:40

sleeton: I find it strange that you respond to a question about caring for child, knowing they will die, to the point that they die, with an anecdote about a gap year. I thought everyone knew that gap years were popular. The question raised was about something that would require so much more experience and commitment (and therefore much bigger sacrifice). That was why I thought you didn't grasp what was required. I'm sorry to have offended you, it was rather patronising.

I find it strange that you continue to misunderstand which question I was answering. How many people would be prepared to ......

I also find it strange that you would view young graduates (that is, already qualified with appropriate hospital experience), spending a year of their time providing front-line first-response medical care, for sufferers of a horrific disease, under appalling conditions, as "an interesting gap year" .

I continue to find you patronising.

Jinsei Sun 21-Apr-13 15:55:54

People claim to understand but the lives you talk about are so far removed that their secular ideology matters more..

That's quite a sweeping statement. If I have understood correctly, you seem to be saying that anyone who argues for a secular approach is too far removed from the problem to be able to make a valid judgement. On what evidence do you base this claim?

Pendipidy Sun 21-Apr-13 16:02:14

It amazes me how many people on this thread claim to be Christians but then disagree with sharing their faith! That is the whole point of being a Christian, practically! A Christian has a responsibility to share about Jesus as well as card for others. Why would a supposed Christian not want to do that?

Jinsei Sun 21-Apr-13 16:06:03

Pendipidy, I am not a Christian, so can't ask directly, but perhaps some people choose to find different ways of sharing their faith - not through forcing it on the vulnerable who have little choice but to accept it, but rather by living a life that exemplifies the teachings of their faith without asking for anything in return?

raspberryroop Sun 21-Apr-13 16:09:12

Because its incredibly offensive and WRONG to wrap it up in a charity wrapper and then give it to children who have no say. Talk to as many adults as you like about your faith.

Well, Pendipity, because it's supremely arrogant to assume that Your Religion is Right and impose it on others who were managing just fine without it, thanks very much. Thankfully some Christians have the humility to recognise that.

raspberryroop Sun 21-Apr-13 16:10:32

The fact that you and the OP do not get this is why missionaries should not be allowed to leave the country.

NotYoMomma Sun 21-Apr-13 16:37:24

How do they explain their motivation without referring to their faith (without which they would very definitely not be there)?

You said the above,

To which I posted my previous post about my own Christian adoptive mother and my opinion on the matter (which I believe was a fair comment to make given what you had just posted earlier)

Which you then dismissed as being unwise...

I have come to the conclusion that you are:

1) either one of the missionaries
2) a bit of a knobber

EduCated Sun 21-Apr-13 16:41:22

I do not and will not give to faith-based causes. I do and will continue to give to equitable non-faith based causes. I also give preference to causes which train/use local people so that they are more sustainable and have more of an impact.

It does rather sound like this is something your 'friends' have decided they want to do, worthy as it is, may not necessarily be the best use of resources. Why did they not want the previous veenture to expand?

LittleBairn Sun 21-Apr-13 16:44:39

pendipidy as one of those Chrstians claiming to be one I have a problem with missionary work because it's not sharing it's strong arming your view onto vulnerable people. True Christian charity is given freely.

On and guess what Christians are not an entirely homogenous group we are all entitled to interpret, view and practice our faith differently without others casting aspersions on our faith.

MummytoKatie Sun 21-Apr-13 17:02:21

Personally I am a pragmatist so if it s choice between a child dying or a child living but being indoctrinated into the Christian faith then I would rather the child lived.

Therefore, if I had infinite money to support infinite good causes I would donate to this cause.

However, I do not. And as I said I am a pragmatist. A quick google shows that a donation of £5 a month to UNICEF will provide 5 families with clean water. So for £50 a month I could provide 50 families with clean water. Logic tells me that will saves the lives of at least 6 children. I suspect your friends would need more than £50 a month to keep going. So, as a pragmatist I prefer to save six lives rather than contribute a drop in the ocean towards saving six lives.

(In fact, for personal reasons, my charitable giving is to the Alzheimer's Society but if I decided to change it to foreign aid the above is what I would do.)

RosemaryandThyme Sun 21-Apr-13 18:06:14

If it wasn't a god forsaken dirt ridden hole you wouldn't be contemplating going star !

If it was an evangelical, hygenic, christian eden there would be no need for you to descend at all !

parents that are so bloody minded as to think that as long as there' a dirt track and a 4by4 to anti-biotics should their own children fall ill, then hey ho what a jolly good thing to do really can not be trusted with anyone elses children.

thermalsinapril Sun 21-Apr-13 18:09:01

In the absence of anyone else helping in this place then good for the Christians for getting on with it.

JumpingJackSprat Sun 21-Apr-13 18:14:00

Its not saddening to me. its heartening that im not the only person to me that thinks these children shouldnt be subjected to missionaries when theyre so vulnerable. The starting point in this situation should be no religious pressure or bias from the caregivers with sensitivity shown for any (or no) religion the children may already be practicing. Theyve got enough to be going on with coping with, without someone trying to convert them. if they really wanted to help the children first and foremost then there are better ways to do it.

I wouldn't fund them or touch it with a 20 foot pole. Anything that shoves any religion down the throat of vulnerable children is a no as far as I'm concerned. And if they're doing Christian songs and prayers at bed time then that's what they are doing.

Samaritan's Purse anyone?

KitchenandJumble Sun 21-Apr-13 18:22:08

I have serious ethical issues with missionary work. It isn't right to press religion on vulnerable people, IMO, even if it isn't a quid pro quo sort of thing. It is exploitation of a vulnerable population, especially if children are involved.

While I applaud your friends' desire to help people in need, I agree with others on this thread that their plan doesn't sound like it follows the best practices available for development work.

MrsHoarder Sun 21-Apr-13 18:25:39

thermals but there are ways and ways to help. This seems to be "lets have an ideal of cuddly friendly Christian family homes" when there is a desperate need for food and shelter for far more children than can be accommodated this way. The logic behind orphanages is that you need to ensure security and food before worrying about family bonds, dreadful though that sounds.

If 60 children could be helped for the same price, without the "love and Christian values" that is being proposed then that would be better IMO. And the OP has refused to tell us where this dreadful place is so that people can look at what other help there is and whether there are other channels to help.

Its either so desperate that any help is better than the current situation and the aim should be to feed and shelter as many children as possible or not that desperate and they are just looking for a way to spread The Good Word.

NotYoMomma Sun 21-Apr-13 19:45:39

I just also think

Imagine if your two friends died. Leaving their DC as orphans, they believe their parents are in heaven with God (or whatever)

They are taken in and cared for by someone who explains it is their mission from Allah/ Bhudda whoever... And that they are being cared for because of that.

The children choose to convert

Is it because they believe, or they just desperately want someone to be there for them an don't want to let them down. Also what would their parent have thought? Their kids recruited and converted at their most vulnerable.

What about the kids belief that their parents were in heaven with GoD? Are their parents actually in hell/ purgatory?

quoteunquote Sun 21-Apr-13 20:19:59

Sad, they need to keep their religion to themselves.

sandberry Sun 21-Apr-13 20:38:38

I think the reality is that regardless of religion your friends are doing very little good. For a start they are focusing on 'caring for the orphan' no doubt with the requisite religious verses, the 'saving children' religious people always quote instead of what communities actually need which is family preservation projects.

There is good evidence that funding for orphanage care particularly high quality orphanage care encourages more 'orphans' as families see this as a way to ensure adequate food and care for their children. It divides communities children in orphanages receive higher quality care than children in their birth families. Children need to be in their birth families first and if that is not possible in local families who speak their language, can transmit their birth culture and provide similar standards of care as other children in their community receiving. There are many successful projects working in areas with high numbers of parentless children promoting local foster care, why don't your friends fundraise for one of these.

Also unless your friends are intending to remain with these children for life or at least the duration of their childhood unless they are adopted by local families then it becomes a bit of a 'hug an orphan' project, for show but not providing children with what they actually need; permanent caregivers with whom they can build a strong, lasting attachment. Foreigners going over to volunteer in orphanage care in developing nations means the government no longer have to fund local people to provide this care and deal with the problem of parentless children, many orphanages in developing countries are run on successions of volunteers ensuring children have no continuity of relationships.

I imagine your friends have a bit of a starfish mentality, the 'saved that one' thing going on. They should rethink, this kind of project looks great to the church at home but causes long term harm to families and communities. If your friends have skills in medical care, therapy, providing institutional care, they could offer that to the community they wish to serve which would have a greater positive impact on children.

sorry that was long

starfield Sun 21-Apr-13 21:09:59

Momma I didn't mean to criticize you, meant I was chastened and wiser as a result of reading all the posts, particularly your own as it's hard to argue with firsthand experience, nor would I wish to. But clearly I didn't convey that.

No, I'm not one of the couple going. However I do love them and love the difference they're making and I'm prepared to listen to anything that makes for a better experience for the kids. And probably would be going if my circumstances were different.

But also important is that my friends are able to serve in a way that is authentic for them. They could not teach a different faith although they could probably look at how their own faith is coming across and how helpful that is for the child. There is a difference between wanting to spread your religion like some kind of virus, stooping to anything to get the numbers up, and really believing you have something to share that could help and console. But I do appreciate that children needing emotional stability might be exhausted and confused by that. I also share some posters distaste about making humanitarian aid dependent on spiritual compliance. Ditto sneakily going after desperate people because they're easier to convert.

While i take all thats been said on board it does seem as if some posters are basing their revulsion for Christianity and missionary work on quite an outdated model. Many Christians have acknowledged these failings and tried to move on with a more respectful and professional approach. In fact many Christian aid workers are very vocal about this. I've been to bible college and can confirm that you don't get out of there without a serious look at the evils wrought by the church.

Regarding the tiny orphanage is what it is as a result of dialogue with government and local church. No we don't need more large orphanages. Quite rightly, my friends could not begin a bigger institution even if they wished to. Anyone suggesting that local government has been obliged to get on board for funding purposes is mistaken. This model is helpful to them because it's flexible and it facilitates longer term placements.

To those suggesting my friends get on board with a more established agency-they would,but that is to assume that there is something already in place that would work even better if more volunteers arrived. That's not always so. It may look like world vision or wherever has everything covered but there are needs that established charities haven't got to yet and probably won't now for a while. That leaves pockets which is a rather small word for it.

To anyone still with much of all this would have to change for it to win your support? If there was a clear drive towards handing it over to local leadership? If my friends were willing to forgo spelling out their faith? If it helped an overwhelming number of kids?

Just as an aside, I also feel satisfied giving to organizations that promise to do amazing things with a pound. I agree that investing heavily in just a few children is impractical and wasteful from that point of view. But there is a difference between helping a child to survive and helping them to thrive. Both have merit and I suppose we have to give as we want to. The style of project being discussed here has been approved by a government committed to best practice but without the budget to apply it to match the scale of the need. It may come across as self indulgent naive unprofessional Christian aid...but it actually reflects best practice because kids do better in families. Could it be done more cheaply? I don't know but will be messaging the poster with links to a comparable project in Zimbabwe.

One last thing. Having a constantly changing six kids is not the same thing as having six troubled kids so that number could seem lower than the reality in terms of children helped per year.

Sand berry you're too quick to dismiss this, somewhat understandably because you I didn't specify the country in question. You should be aware that not all Christians have the approach you describe or are as poorly informed that.

There are small charities out there that don't have a Christian background where your friends could help.

PM me if you want to know more.

starfield Sun 21-Apr-13 21:15:56

Constantly changing six kids is not the same as the same six kids sorry.

Also sandberry please note that this project is in conjunction with childcare facilities for mothers who work and promotes family preservation by providing crisis care.

Doubtitsomehow Sun 21-Apr-13 21:24:06

I'm leaving this thread now. Starting to wind me up.

The poster who described the programme in Zimbabwe is not describing a 'comparable' project to yours. That is a locally developed initiative which is fully sustainable. Your and your friends' initiative is about thirty years out of date in terms of development practice.

You don't appear to have listened to any of the 200 or so posters on here who have expressed concerns.

Finally, your basic knowledge is wrong. What your friends are doing is not 'humanitarian' aid. Look up the definition. And listen to those who do have experience of aid work, and know how it works.

I just want to wade in and ask if they're taking their own children with them - I suspect they are.

To completely project my own experience onto this those children have my complete and utter sympathy.

They willl find that other peoples children will always come before their own children - as "we have so much more than they do" [I never quite got this argument as we had jack sh*t becuase we lived in a hell-hole, with no money etc].

My parents now live in the UK and all their money goes back to the country they were missionaries in. One of my siblings really needs some cash - but they can't have it as its going to child x who really really needs it ... child x, y z have all had their education paid for by my parents, yet I and another sibling both had to pay for all our own education.

I know i am not alone in this kind of experience too.

They seriously need to consider their own children and their needs - education, friendship, culture and their complete and utter lack of choice and get the expectations about where lines are drawn - their children will always come first etc etc.

RubyGates Sun 21-Apr-13 21:47:38

Were you expecting this thread to go:

Oh yes, what a lovely idea, we'll PM you with a PayPal donation?

Because clearly that's not how it's going. Perhaps you could try another forum who are more likely to think that this is a cause that is worthy exactly as your friends wish to do it.

I would respect your friend's compulsion to help much more if they could witness their faith simply by doing the job that needs to be done without forcing it on the children in their care. No community prayers and songs about Jesus.

Doubtitsomehow Sun 21-Apr-13 21:53:53

Yeah and finally....'supporting family preservation' is common parlance for: right wing religious agenda that seeks to persuade women to stay in difficult or even abusive relationships for the sake of 'family preservation'. Would you preach that in the UK, Op?

Going for a wine, it being the day of rest, an' all.

UniS Sun 21-Apr-13 21:59:05

Do your friends speak the local language.
Do they have experience working with traumatized children.
DO they have a trustworthy- REALLY trustworthy- local on the ground who understands the local government, riles, regs, property laws, employment laws etc.
Do they have an understanding of the level of corruption in the local government in their target area.
Do they have aback up plan for when things don't work out.
Do they have funds to live on themselves for at least a year in target location. NOT money given to them for charitable purposes.
Is there really no local organisation in target location who they can work alongside?

I have a family member who decided that they had been "called to serve the lord" in a developing nation by "saving " orphans and raising them in a large family house... They ignored ALL the above , wellied into their project with great enthusiasm. Moved lock stock and barrel to target location. Discovered that no one locally trusted the chap they were trusting to introduce them, they were seen as as rich westerners and many people wanted to fleece them. After 6 weeks they ran out of money and had to leave the country. To, no job, no home, no savings, and a bad taste in the mouths of people who had given them charitable donations.

Jinsei Sun 21-Apr-13 22:01:41

To anyone still with much of all this would have to change for it to win your support? If there was a clear drive towards handing it over to local leadership? If my friends were willing to forgo spelling out their faith? If it helped an overwhelming number of kids?

It's a tough question to answer, OP, but it would have to change almost beyond recognition before I could support it. Yes, the faith-based element would have to come out, in my view. (That doesn't mean that they should hide their faith, but it should be a personal thing for them and not part of the project.) But that alone wouldn't be enough.

In my experience (and I do have some first-hand experience), local communities usually know what is needed themselves, and just need funding and/or specific expertise/training from outside to make their ideas a reality. The idea of your friends going out to do run an orphanage doesn't really make sense to me - there will be people in the local community who could care for the children according to their own culture and traditions, and I would prefer to see a charity that supported local people to do this. Grass roots initiatives are always best in my view. I would want to see evidence from the local community as to why your proposed model was the best possible approach under the circumstances, and I'd want to know how your friends would go about raising the children according to a culture that is completely different from their own.

I would also have serious doubts about the cost-effectiveness of sending a western family out there to do a job that could be done exclusively by local carers, and this would be a disincentive for me to give. Even if they live simply, I'm sure that your friends will incur costs that local carers might not. This would be problematic for me, unless they were just going out there to share specific knowledge and skills that could be passed to the local carers within a reasonable timescale.

I would want to see evidence that the project was sustainable in the long term. What would happen when your friends decided to leave? What if one of their children were to fall ill and they needed to return unexpectedly early to the UK? What would happen to the orphans then? Also, where would the core funding come from? What would happen if they suddenly ran out of money? How would the project continue to be funded after they had left?

I would want to know whether having 3-4 carers for six children was really the best model, or whether more children could be helped to survive and thrive under a different model. I'd want to know how children would be "selected" for the orphanage, and to whom your friends would be accountable. Who would be checking their suitability for this kind of work, for example, and who would be monitoring the quality of the care given.

And many, many more questions that I can't list now. You might guess that I'm not the most likely donor for this project OP. I'm sorry. I think your friends mean well, but there's something slightly self-indulgent about it all. It strikes me that it's more their own need to feel that they're making a difference over and above the actual (very real) needs of the people they're trying to help. And while I'm sure that they will make a difference, I'm not at all convinced that it's the best difference that they could make.

cory Sun 21-Apr-13 22:10:58

What I found breathtakingly arrogant was the assumption that it would be impossible to find anyone already part of this culture unable to care for these children "to our standards". Right, so Westerners are the only ones who know how to look after children? Because other cultures don't have any experience in that field, do they?

In fact, all the questions asked by Jinsei. What is it that these people have that the locals do not? How would the project be sustainable longterm? What happens if they have to return home?

maddening Sun 21-Apr-13 22:12:41

I don't think it is riling against Christianity specifically but basing help to vulnerable people - in this case extremely vulnerable children - on the back of an evangelical mission of any religion is actually revolting imo.

These children need consistency and a great deal of complex care - not evangelising. If that is the primary goal then your friends should absolutely not do it. If it is not the primary goal then your friends should remove that completely from their agenda and have a complete rethink of their approach.

Jinsei Sun 21-Apr-13 22:18:20

Yes indeed, cory. It's as if the "natives" couldn't possibly do such a good job as an educated Western couple. The whole project seems very neo-colonial in its outlook.

DontSHOUTTTTTT Sun 21-Apr-13 22:26:38

I would be worried about the long term viability of this project. I think the fact that the 'friends' have children of their own to be a potential problem.

I used to live in South Africa and visited several orphanages around Johannesburg. Most, if not all, of them were quite religious, I didn't see this as a big problem (and I am 100% atheist ). The fact the kids were loved and looked after was much, much more important. A lot of African countries are already very Christian (not that we know where the OP's 'friends' are going)

The 'friends' would potentially be able to achieve more by working in the UK and donating money to an existing organisation and by visiting during holidays to give advice and to work.

Jinsei Sun 21-Apr-13 22:38:40

Yes obviously, Dont, if they were going to a "very Christian" country, the religious aspects would be less of an issue as this would be the cultural norm for the children in any case. However, the OP said that the children would come from mixed backgrounds, so I don't think that's the case in this scenario.

I agree that the couple's own children pose an additional problem.

sleeton Sun 21-Apr-13 22:45:20

To anyone still with much of all this would have to change for it to win your support?

I was about to try to answer this, when I realised that the dozen or so who had posted immediately following your question already had answered. (Along with dozens and dozens who, preceding that particular question, had tried to give you good advice and information. Advice and information which - it seemed to me - you didn't want to hear.)

For me, as already said by Jinsei above "it would have to change almost beyond recognition before I could support it".

MidniteScribbler Sun 21-Apr-13 23:09:51

midnite: Thanks and I do understand that. But it's not as simple as keeping it to themselves. How do they share their faith with their own children and avoid the others when they are quite literally opening their home? How do they explain their motivation without referring to their faith (without which they would very definitely not be there)? Even more difficult- what if they promoted themselves to the rest of the world as a secular agency and then the rest of the world discovered they were closet Christians? Can they actually win here? And what can they say to an orphaned child that is carefully drained of any personal faith? 'We don't know where Mummy is' would not be true for them. 'People like you believe Mummy is in...' likewise doesn't seem right.

It is entirely possible to keep it to themselves. I work in a faith based school now, but I did my early teaching years in a secular state funded school. No one would have even known of my religion, and I couldn't tell you the religion of any other staff members. We were quite capable of providing education and even pastoral care without including religion. Your friends can quietly worship with their own children without requiring any participation of the other children in this facility. As soon as you start expecting the children to sing about Jesus and pray before meals then you've crossed the line. And if your friends can't answer the questions about why parents have died or other difficult questions without bringing religion in to it, then I would genuinely question their level of training and knowledge of education and child development is not suitable for undertaking this project and providing pastoral care to children with very significant trauma and needs.

Devora Sun 21-Apr-13 23:36:46

What a strangely antagonistic thread, on both sides.

OP, I personally wouldn't give money to your friends' work. Not because I doubt their commitment, not even because it's a faith-based venture, but because there's no quality control. How do any potential donors know that they are doing a good job? Good intentions and honest commitment aren't always enough, and I prefer to invest my charitable giving with places where I can more clearly understand what is being done and how it is being monitored and evaluated.

manicinsomniac Sun 21-Apr-13 23:50:02

some posters are being unnecesarily harsh about this imo.

We're talking about babies and toddlers here - the 'evangelising' going on is going to be pretty minimal and it will be almost all about primary care. It's not a case of 'come here independent thinking adult and, if you listen to and subscribe to my religious views, I will feed and clothe you', it's more like 'bring us deeply damaged and physically ill children with almost no language or thinking skills and we will love and rehabilitate them. But we will pray for and sing to them.' Big deal. The Christian component of this project won't damage these tiny children but the love and care they receive might well save them.

It's not the only way to help. It may well not be the best way to help. But it is help and some people are just being so cruel about it (not those who wouldn't contribute financially, nobody can or should contribute to everything, but those who are insulting the couple's motives and effectiveness).

starfield Sun 21-Apr-13 23:54:35

Unis yes to all except possibly the corruption one.

starfield Mon 22-Apr-13 00:04:58

jinsei: The answer to a lot of your questions about accountability is the government, because the children are placed there and have a social worker of their own from there. Thinking about what would happen to the project if my friends weren't there to run it, I agree that's an issue but partly because the strength of the project is that it's relational and person specific. We can't have it all ways; children need reliable care figures. It would be devastating to lose them. That's partly why my friends have spent over a decade getting ready to do this, often in thankless circumstances. I don't know that you could pay anyone else, local or otherwise, to do this the way they'll do it, because it's such a mix of professional skill and personal commitment.

dontshout: If I suggested that my friends swoop in during holidays to give advice, there would be howls of derision. The word 'paternalistic' has been used...

starfield Mon 22-Apr-13 00:17:42

Cory and Jinsei: This is not a patronising or colonial venture. Some posters on this thread have suggested that my friends 'train' locals and visit from time to time with advice (presumably sharing from our superior Western pool of knowledge). That isn't what's being suggested and I think you should read more carefully. The idea is developed with local government and it so happens that the principles underlying the policy are in line with what's considered to be best practice here. Great. But
some posters on this thread still think big orphanages make a big impact and they have suggested my friends devote themselves to funding these or giving specialist 'institutional' help. To them, I responded that this is not a model that would be supported and rightly so. However, when explaining why it's not straightforward to get local support, I had to explain that there is still a mindset that children without families go into orphanages. My friends can't step back and watch local families do this because local families aren't stepping forward. Also (and this is true in the UK too but perhaps not so acutely) fostercare needs support and community to work. But there is a real likelihood that if they spend a lifetime on this (as they plan to), things will change.

Not breath-takingly arrogant I don't think.

starfield Mon 22-Apr-13 00:21:02

devora I see that point of view. If you had time to plumb this venture it would certainly have all the hallmarks of accountability and would have been required to work harder to be accountable as a result of not having the backing of an established charity (where accountability often isn't all that it seems) but I appreciate that takes time and you'd have to know what you were doing.

Mimishimi Mon 22-Apr-13 00:28:19

I wouldn't fund it but I do admire those who do this sort of thing out of their own pocket and on top of their usual work commitments. I would rather fund larger , more accountable organizations that help the local communities from which the children have come to look after their own ( and there are kind people who will take on orphans in most communities). I've only ever met one missionary family that I've really liked and who seemed to enjoy it... all the rest have seemed very hostile to the culture in which they've hoped to gain converts and the wives usually just look plain miserable.

MichelleRooJnr Mon 22-Apr-13 00:30:34

My 'friends' recently felt a similar calling (well - 26 yrs ago but who's counting) and have spent their entire marriage doing very similar work as and when they can afford to.
They are not christians - I'm not sure what their religious leaning is. Because it doesn't matter. It has absolutely no bearing on the wonderful work they are doing .
They find it possible to carry out their admirable and unenviable work without brining their religion into it. at all.
They can provide care without preaching/ evangilising.
It can be - and is - done.
Don't come on here telling us that in order to help poor orphaned children your friends must sing jesus songs - no they mustn't!
Do it or don't do it. Leave preaching out of it, it is entirely unnecessary.

starfield Mon 22-Apr-13 00:35:04

midnite: Interesting. But six hours a day isn't the same thing as raising a child, is it? Teachers are not at the mercy of children following them about saying 'Yes, but why?' Not in the way that parents are. That's what I meant. When children are forming an attachment they need to know what you believe and it's not realistic to suppose they won't know when other children in the house know... I didn't mean to say that it was impossible to talk about big issues without discussing religion. But it's going to come up, isn't it.

Are you saying that only people who have training in traumatised children should try to offer this kind of fostercare? I think that's very unrealistic, given that most posters don't want to see the children removed from local settings in the first place. But yes, they do have the training, because they wanted to have something to bring to this beyond woolly optimism. Believe it or not...

Mimishimi Mon 22-Apr-13 00:38:31

Do they speak the language Starfield?

starfield Mon 22-Apr-13 00:43:12

michelle: welcome! I didn't say it is essential to sing Jesus songs when you minister to a child. I said I didn't know how realistic it was for this couple to drain their lives of explicitly religious content, given that they have children of their own and are very 'hearts on their sleeves'. And I didn't know also how necessary or reasonable it was, as I'm of the opinion that religion is not a nasty form of cancer. However I understand there are circumstances it which it would not be appropriate to evangelise.

starfield Mon 22-Apr-13 00:45:32

mimi: It's not a culture where only one language exists and nobody speaks every language. They're not limited to one language but I wouldn't call them fluent.

Mimishimi Mon 22-Apr-13 00:50:04

Just out of curiosity, where exactly is it? Is it the country that they were located in previously?

starfield Mon 22-Apr-13 00:57:38

I'm sorry Mimi I can't say.

Mimishimi Mon 22-Apr-13 01:23:49

I'd be very cautious about donating to a cause where even one of their biggest supporters and friends were unwilling to disclose more specific information then. How would disclosing the country identify them? Just yesterday, one of my friends was asking for donations to help a Facebook friend who is partially through through making documentary about a famous flamenco dancer who she said 'suddenly disappeared off the dancing scene' after reaching the pinnacle of her career in the 80s/90s. It turned out that she had been a victim of domestic abuse for years and the females in her family told her to keep it quiet because they didn't want to start a blood feud between her brothers and her husband's family. Then my friend said "it's basically a women's lib documentary" and because of the economic situation in Spain, her friend could not get more arts funding. So later I just casually asked "so how old is this dancer now?" and she said in her seventies. So she would have been in her late fifties when she 'disappeared' - that's not mysterious, that's called retirement!! There is probably no chance that any monies made from the documentary could be recouped and since it sounds like a solo effort, there's a good chance it won't be picked up from a TV channel. With YouTube clips of her dances and also of short news articles detailing the domestic abuse revelations, there is not much that is new to the story and fairly sure the person has no personal connection ( particularly as if she did, she would not exactly be encouraged to make a documentary about it!!). My point is lots of people seem to latch on to 'good causes' but think that they have to go it alone because they are the only ones who can make a 'real difference'. You say that their previous effort ended through no fault of their own but usually that is jargon for that they couldn't get more funding. They would be better off seeing how to best support Christian churches in that country to do this sort of work, particularly if the exchange rates are such that their pound would go so much further.

MidniteScribbler Mon 22-Apr-13 01:42:20

midnite: Interesting. But six hours a day isn't the same thing as raising a child, is it? Teachers are not at the mercy of children following them about saying 'Yes, but why?' Not in the way that parents are. That's what I meant. When children are forming an attachment they need to know what you believe and it's not realistic to suppose they won't know when other children in the house know... I didn't mean to say that it was impossible to talk about big issues without discussing religion. But it's going to come up, isn't it.

Haha, you don't know much about teaching. My entire day is spent with hearing "but miss, whhhhhhy?". Of course you can discuss big issues without discussing religion. How do you think atheists do it? Or do you think they don't discuss any big issues with their children? How do you think teachers at non denominational schools administer pastoral care to their students? How do you think we deal with at-risk children, children who have been abused, children who have lost close family,

I am genuinely concerned that your friends are doing this purely because they feel they have a calling to spread their faith, without any real thought as to the long term implications for the communities they are going to. I have worked with indigenous at risk children, and it is vital that they remain linked to their local culture and connections and that time is taken to ensure those connections. Taking children who have already suffered extreme trauma, cutting them off from their local culture and community, forcing them in to an unfamiliar lifestyle and expections of behaviour, and then forcing them to convert to another religion foreign to them is cruelty beyond measure. If they want to minister, then go right ahead, but to adults who are not in serious at risk situations and who choose to listen. They're plucking the youngest, most vulnerable people they can find, because they know they can do their "job" easily and without opposition, all in the name of "helping".

If your friends want to genuinely help these communities, there are many, many ways that they can do this, without selecting a "chosen" few to "save". Have you ever heard the phrase: "Catch a man a fish and feed him for a day, teach a man to fish and feed him for a lifetime"? Your friends should put their efforts in to helping the local communities care for the children in those communities and to develop strategies and long term achievable goals for them.

sandberry Mon 22-Apr-13 05:54:33

I don't think it matters at all about the religion (though I do have some objections to evangelicals sharing their religion as part of a charitable endeavour, especially with vulnerable children)

I don't think it matters what country it is, although from your previous remarks I can narrow it down to a few.

I just think what your friends are doing is wrong. That it will harm the children in the community they are working in. That they could instead imitate more successful models of local foster care which many charities both religious and otherwise have implemented in many different countries thus meeting their stated objectives of high quality care for parentless children.

But I doubt this is about parentless children, this is about your friends feeling good, doing something they enjoy (caring for children) and looking good to others. I doubt they would feel so good working in a central base supporting local families to provide foster care to children or remaining at home, providing financial and practical support to a scheme which did this.

sashh Mon 22-Apr-13 06:32:54

Something I said when people seemed to just be driving to Romania and picking any child they wanted.

If you really cared about that child you could do far more by sending funds to a local orphanage.

The plumbers who went over and installed toilets and modern plumbing - they were heroes to me.

There are homeless children in this country, there are children in need of foster homes.

Why are they going elsewhere?

Jinsei Mon 22-Apr-13 07:33:45

Thinking about what would happen to the project if my friends weren't there to run it, I agree that's an issue but partly because the strength of the project is that it's relational and person specific. We can't have it all ways; children need reliable care figures. It would be devastating to lose them.

Yes indeed. All the more reason for the care to be given by local carers who are deeply rooted within that community.

I don't know that you could pay anyone else, local or otherwise, to do this the way they'll do it, because it's such a mix of professional skill and personal commitment

Really? I find this extremely hard to believe. There are plenty of committed people the world over, and if local foster families arent coming forward at the moment, the answer is to look at the barriers to that, rather than sending in outsiders to do the job instead. What professional skills do they have that don't exist in the community and couldn't be passed on?

Saying that "it's not patronising" is fine, but it still isn't clear to me why your friends need to go in and provide the primary care for these children, over and above the local people. Unless evangelising is a key aspect of their purpose.

If that's what they want to do, it's their choice, but I wouldn't support it financially and I would assume that their motives were more about their own needs and less about the children they were trying to help.

Jinsei Mon 22-Apr-13 07:41:40

And yes, why is it that you can't tell us the country? What's the big secret? If your friends need to fundraise, they'll have to go public anyway. And if they're confident that they are doing the right thing, what's to hide? (Not asking this in a confrontational way btw, but genuinely curious).

manicinsomniac Mon 22-Apr-13 07:42:00

sashh - because different people feel called to different countries. British children aren't more deserving of our time, attention and money just because they're British are they?!

I have worked on projects in the UK, Brazil, Southern Africa, India and Eastern Europe. But it was only in Brazil that it felt totally right and what I was meant to be doing. My heart is for Brazil even though I am British and I can't see why that would be wrong.

MrsHoarder Mon 22-Apr-13 07:50:55

Asking what would happen to the project if your friends left is doubly important because they have their own children who should be their first priority and they should be willing to do the best for them.

What happens if after 5 years the needs of their children are such that they need to return to the UK? It will damage the children who have had a parent-like relationship with them further. You didn't mention why they couldn't be full time foster parents in the UK, it can't be for the benefit of their own children because what they're planning is far more disruptive than foster caring in the UK would be.

Finally, are your friends big fans of George Muller?

FasterStronger Mon 22-Apr-13 08:01:02

Satrfield have your friends fund raised here successfully for other charities working in the same country?

how much did they raise?
how much will they need every year for their proposed venture?

DontSHOUTTTTTT Mon 22-Apr-13 09:11:52

I don't know about other African countries but if it is South Africa then the fact that the 'friends' don't speak the local language is OK. There are 11 official languages some of which are very different to the others.
I don't know about the more rural areas but in urban areas English (or Africaans) is taught in school.
The kids are extremely keen to learn either English or Africaans.
I don't know, but I imagine that it is a similar situation in other (Southern) African countries.

There are thousands of orphans in South Africa.

HIV is not going to go away. sad. youu can buy coffins of the shelf in some rural supermarkets. sad sad sad

My background is Native American, as you probably know, my DGP's (and their peers), were "persuaded" to give up the beliefs of their parents and take on those of their carers, so I am totally against projects being run buy anyone who pushes their religion. Surely they are just alienating these children in the society that they live in and will return to? These children are already vulnerable, so shouldn't ne targeted by nay group which will help to marginalise them further, as adults.

hackmum Mon 22-Apr-13 09:27:48

"what if they promoted themselves to the rest of the world as a secular agency and then the rest of the world discovered they were closet Christians?"

It's perfectly possible to be both secular and Christian. "Secular" doesn't mean "atheist". It just means you don't bring religion into it.

There are many projects run by Christians in SA, where there isn't a need to tell the children that they need to be prayed for, or make the children sing religious songs. There is usually an emphasis on being kind and being the best person that you can be, without religion being thrown in. My father was from Durban.

BreastmilkCrucifiesAFabLatte Mon 22-Apr-13 09:34:30

I think I'd need even more information before deciding. I'm a Christian and not ethically opposed to people doing good things to spread their faith... but still, this endeavour raises a million moral, financial and practical questions. I think your friends will have to get used to answering them.

So when these children become adults, who helps then overcome their loss of cultural reference and identity and helps them to fit back into the local (and very different) community? Or is the aim to make a new, separate, Christian community?

lisaro Mon 22-Apr-13 09:48:42

If because of the age of their children they could only offer respite care over here (as you said) then how can they do this with the children in tow? Or can the upbringing of their own children be sacrificed to spread their religion? OP you sound very unhinged biased regarding this I suspect youre either after an argument or one of the people involved. Either way, you are doing a very good job of illustrating why this is a ridiculous idea.

Lucyellensmum95 Mon 22-Apr-13 09:57:14

I send my child to a catholic school (i am a catholic, DP isn't) So isn't that the same thing?

I think that if your friends are going to a country that has a different religeon to do this then i think that "guiding" the children into christianity is wrong, however it is a christian country then I don't understand why it is a bad thing or indeed any different to people in this country sending their children to faith schools often because they are the better schools and not becuase of ther religeon itself

YoniRanger Mon 22-Apr-13 10:12:00

I'm not sure what training your friend have had but it won't be a good as the skills the local population have.

Dealing with traumatised children is location/ situation specific, so if they have a social work or play therapy qualification it's going to be useless. The local people who have suffered the same traumas are much better equipped to love and heal these children.

Large group homes run by local people will offer these children better life chances then your friend can.

Being a qualified white Christian does not make you a good foster parent.

cory Mon 22-Apr-13 10:12:18

This was the bit I found patronising:

"Have you tried to show love to a child without a family - demonstrating how family love works and what stability looks like? Lived and worked it? I have had the privilege of doing this. It's demanding and very person specific. In a country where many people have lost their own families and are focusing on survival, it is asking a lot that they produce people with the necessary resources just like that. You can pay people to diligently and competently provide childcare but that's not at all the same thing. (Hence in this country we consider fostercare preferable to a children's home)"

You are saying quite clearly that the people from this country cannot be expected to provide adequate foster care; that they would only be able to provide diligent and competent childcare, but that it takes flown-in Westerners to show how family love works.

I don't get the logic: if the stability of a foster family works better than orphanages, would it not be better to find local foster families than to rely on outsiders who might not be able to stay in the area?

"I don't know that you could pay anyone else, local or otherwise, to do this the way they'll do it, because it's such a mix of professional skill and personal commitment"

So if a couple of such wonderful people could be found in, say, Saudi Arabia, would that be an argument for flying them into the UK and letting them set up small homes here rather than trying to find local foster carers?

I have finally remembered the term I have been searching for since yesterday. Cultural relativism. How on earth can your friends come along imposing Eurocentric and neo-imperialist values on these children?

piprabbit Mon 22-Apr-13 10:21:11

There is a moral argument that individuals who have the skills and abilities to earn plenty of money in a conventional job should take it upon themselves to earn as much money as possible and then donate a very significant proportion to organisations who are best placed to use that money effectively. The individual should only keep the minimum they require to meet their needs.
For an individual to fail to maximise their earning potential, and there by not be able to donate so much, could seen as abdicating their responsibilities.

So if my DH and I earn £50k between us, we could aim to run the household on £30K (more than the national average salary) and donate £20K to a project employing local families to care for children, which could then employ perhaps 3 or 4 local people (plus a bit leftover for admin costs), who would not only provide care to benefit the children but also improve the education and skills of the local employees and they would spend their wages in the local economy benefiting the whole community.

I'm not sure which is the easier option, opting out of the rat race to do good works overseas or working with in the rat race and giving up most of your earnings.

lisaro Mon 22-Apr-13 10:23:14

Actually it all sounds very entitled. It's like you feek they should fly in, 'spread the love' and their fairy tales, and be lauded as heroes. untrained, non funded naive (at best) wannabe heroes are the last people that should be doing this. Stupid and dangerous.

FasterStronger Mon 22-Apr-13 10:33:20

OP have your friends tried applying for jobs with existing charities? you say they have the correct skills etc., so either this would be recognised by existing charities, or there are better people to do the job.

i wonder if it is about what the couple want to do, above anything else. however much they are in denial about it.

starfield Mon 22-Apr-13 10:34:39

I've tried to respond to many of these questions and arguments already, only to find they are being asked again, or that my responses are found fault with from a slightly different angle by different posters. For example, I could respond to one poster by saying that my friends approach is not paternalistic in that they are slotting in with a government agency that has decided what would be most useful to them at this time, they are being professional and respectful in being properly equipped, they are willing to get their hands dirty so are not expecting locals to do a job they won't do themselves, are actually supporting the community in such a way that adoptions and long-term placements there will work out - none of this carries weight - or it does with one person, but not with another. Fair enough. I'd have more interest in spending another day justifying this if I thought it was a fair argument (ie. where the goalposts were relatively fixed) but I don't think that's going to happen.

I will take everything on board that has been said, and I hope it will be helpful to children on the front line. I know that this project has value, because that can be demonstrated and has been demonstrated.

To those pointing out that more can be donated by people here - yes, and that is why we need to speak to people from our culture who are working there, otherwise most of us don't donate.

Thanks guys.

The project has value from a western paternalistic point of view, but it would have MORE value if it was done in the ways others have suggested, can you see that?

DontSHOUTTTTTT Mon 22-Apr-13 10:42:13

Having seen similar('ish) orphanages in South Africa I know that they can and DO work. The posters claiming that it is damaging for the 'orphans' perhaps don't understand the situation there.
I don't know if what you friends are suggesting is feasible long term, especially as they have kids themselves, but I am sure it would massively improve the lives of the kids they look after. It would most likely mean the difference between life and death to the children.
The fact that your friends are not locals, may not speak the local language and are Christian could be totally irrelevant.

I don't know about other countries though.

Some posters seem to be making a LOT of assumptions about the friends. The original OP asked if people would support the friends work. I replied that I wouldn't as I prefer to support larger (although still local) charities. I also prefer to support ones which are non religeous (or not overly religious). I think a lot of South African charities that are set up to help children such as The Sparrow Village are religeous and I would still happily support them. even though I am an atheist

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