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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?

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

AnnieLobeseder Sun 21-Apr-13 13:58:51

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.

NotYouNaanBread Sun 21-Apr-13 14:10:06

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

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

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.

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