Uganda (MNN) — In Uganda, over 50,000 children live in orphanages or institutionalized care facilities…and 80% of them have family members in the area.
The statistics have been borne out in government research which is also the foundation for a major shift in the approach of Bright Hope International to outreach in Uganda. Studies show that family-based orphan care lowers the risk of discrimination, poverty, inadequate care, and abuse of children in Uganda.
Bright Hope president CH Dyer explains, “The research over the last few years has really shown that orphanages are going the way of the horse and buggy. We need to think not of building new orphanages, but really start to see that the best practices, the best thing for children are for those children to be placed in families.”
Family structure has been proven to be the best place for a child to grow and develop, Dyer notes. “Many of these orphan homes are run actually in Uganda by churches. They’ve been supported by the West, but is that the best possible thing to do for that child? The research that is out there today says, No.” In fact, current estimates indicate 800 orphanages exist in Uganda. Of those, only 40 institutions are registered with approved home status by the government.
Orphanages are not a long-term solution to childcare. Bright Hope is working toward developing a model of transition from orphanages to families with the partnership of experts, residential homes, and the local church in Uganda.
What needs to change? The whole system, Dyer confirms. Since churches are so intimately involved, the paradigm shift starts there. “Churches and Christians need to think and say, ‘What can we do to get orphans back into families?’” To that end, “We’ve decided to put on a symposium in November of this year to help pastors learn how to transition children from their orphan setting, to place those children [with] secure families, and then…come alongside those families and support them as they care for an orphan.”
On November 4, 2014, Bright Hope, with local partners, will host a two-day symposium for pastors and church leaders in Uganda in the city of Kampala. Dyer explains, “We’re bringing in experts from around the globe to come to the symposium and train 300 pastors about these best practices.” The big question they’re answering is: “How can we learn from each other about the best way to do God’s work?”
Dyer says family-based orphan care also attacks poverty. “You can even place those children in poor families, very poor families, and by assisting that family, they can not only care of the orphan, but all their children are helped and can be raised up out of poverty.”
The November Symposium represents a re-set in outreach to vulnerable kids. Bright Hope wants to mobilize and equip as many pastors and church leaders in Uganda as possible to launch the shift.
Dyer says two things will help them raise the bar for orphans. First, “Pray that we can get the word out in the areas of Uganda that will be inviting these pastors to come.” Secondly, consider supporting a pastor to come to this symposium. “If you could give a gift of $100, that would support half his time over a two-day period.” Click here if you can help.