Honduras (MNN) — [Ronne Rock with Orphan Outreach reports from Honduras.)
Honduras has joined the growing trend globally to close public orphanages, focusing its efforts on family reunification and private group homes to provide care for vulnerable children. Sadly, too few caseworkers and too little infrastructure can’t effectively care for those in need. Often, children are placed in group homes ill-equipped to bring healing, or returned back to families where abuse and neglect are the norm. But one organization believes the gaps can be filled.
Austin South is the Director of Honduras programs for Orphan Outreach. He sees the changes as an opportunity to partner with others to first and foremost focus on the child. “While in theory the changes that the Honduran government are making–implementing the UNICEF childcare guideline–are good, the issue is that the Honduran government lacks the infrastructure to effectively place and manage each child’s case. That is why it is fundamental that traditional residential facilities embrace these changes and incorporate other aspects in the continuum of care for children.
“We–the NGOS, missionaries, organizations, and government agencies–need to stop molding the child to our program needs and start molding our programs to fit the individualized needs of the children we serve, case-by-case, child-by-child. There is a place and need for each component in the continuum, but they all need to be developed with a commitment to excellence and proven best practices. Now is the time, and the Honduran government is looking to the NGOs for help. We have a voice that is being heard, and the question now for all of us is this: are we going to use that voice to defend and serve the voiceless?
South believes change begins with effective evaluation. “Working together, we can then fill the gaps with the full continuum of care, from healthy family preservation and reunification to foster care and domestic adoption. Working together, we can transform lives.”
Orphan Outreach is diligently working with the Honduran government and ministry partners, but the road is a long one and your prayers are needed to bring about child-centered change.