Discussing the future of orphan care in Guatemala

By March 2, 2016
Guatemala (MNN) — Less than one week after moving into the Palacio Nacional de la Cultura in Guatemala City, the country’s new First Lady, Second Lady, and Sub-Secretary of Bienastar Social extended an invitation to Orphan Outreach for an afternoon of discussion about the needs of orphans and vulnerable children in its country.

(Image courtesy of Orphan Outreach)

Mike Douris, Founder and President of Orphan Outreach, believes opportunity exists through partnership. “We had a time for substantive discussions on ways the new administration can access the power of the private sector–and the church in particular–to address the needs of children. They had heard about some of our ideas about caring for children and wanted to hear more. The government has a huge weight of problems in caring for thousands of orphan and vulnerable children but has no money to fund new initiatives or even address major problems with inadequate current services.

“The church has an obligation through Scripture to care for widows and orphans, and there’s a movement now happening within the church of Guatemala to get engaged in the issues of children. There is now an opportunity for the Guatemalan church to take responsibility and ownership of the holistic care of its orphans and vulnerable children. Orphan Outreach is in the position to be a bridge in the area of children, to bring the government and the church together to address some of these issues.”
One of the main topics of conversation was that of foster care. There is a growing desire on the part of Christian NGOs to come alongside the Guatemalan government to be part of the process of evaluation, placement, and wrap-around care for families.
“One thing that is encouraging with the Guatemalan government is that [President] Molina is actually a graduate of SETECA Seminary, and he and his wife are very committed Christians,” says Douris. “There’s really a great bridge to the Christian community in Guatemala, which is a very encouraging thing.”
While the desire of Guatemalan churches and ministries is to be more engaged than ever, a lack of resources and support could hamper progress. Douris is not disheartened by this, as he sees it as an opportunity for local churches in the United States to partner with Guatemalan brothers and sisters in Christ. “To have partner churches that would come alongside Christian NGOs and churches, really being able to walk through this door to have an impact on kids, there’s probably been no greater opportunity in recent history for that to happen.”
“I’m very encouraged that in these next four years, there will be a lot of creative ways to work with children, and there will be a really great opportunity for the Church to help build capacity and the skills needed to address these very critical issues.” Douris says the collaboration between Guatemalan public and private sectors provide greater momentum to keep programs vibrant and active for administrations to come.
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