Advanced search

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?

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

Freddiemisagreatshag Mon 22-Apr-13 10:37:05

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?

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.

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.

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.

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.

Freddiemisagreatshag Mon 22-Apr-13 10:14:41

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?

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?

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.

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

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.

Birdsgottafly Mon 22-Apr-13 09:38:02

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?

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.

Birdsgottafly Mon 22-Apr-13 09:29:40

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.

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.

Birdsgottafly Mon 22-Apr-13 09:19:58

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.

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

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?

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?

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.

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).

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.

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?

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.

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.

Join the discussion

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now