School saves orphan home in Ghana

By September 10, 2013

Ghana (MNN) — An amazing thing is happening at Haven of Hope. As Every Child Ministries faces renewed pressures that could destroy the home, it now appears that the school, Haven of Hope Academy, will rescue the home, Haven of Hope. Yes, the school will enable ECM to continue rescuing and helping kids from dangerous, unstable and debilitating situations.

It’s like this. Under pressure from the United Nations (with financial incentives attached), Ghana has adopted a “Care Reform Initiative”. The basic idea is good and Every Child Ministries would fully agree with it. Children do best in families, not in children’s homes. Of course. God created the family. Nothing else can take its place. It didn’t require a lot of expensive surveys or UN funding to figure that out.

The issue is that in this sin-sick world, every child does not have a loving, supportive family, not even with the added value of the African extended family. And some families are so dysfunctional that they harm and even destroy their own children. Those are the children Every Child Ministries serves at Haven of Hope.

Adoption and fostering are wonderful options for Christians, but with millions and millions of children in need of help, Every Child Ministries needs to keep all options on the table, including the option of children’s homes like Haven of Hope.

The UN and Ghana’s resulting Care Reform Initiative (CRI) do not want that option to remain on the table. Playing up statistics that show some children’s homes have damaged children and ignoring problems with foster care, they have decided that children’s homes are to be discouraged and closed. Only a few “approved” homes are to remain open as transit homes on the way to foster care, and children must not stay there longer than three years.

The staff of children’s homes are to create “reintegration” plans for each child.

Already Haven of Hope received a three day long visit from social welfare in conjunction with an American NGO that is helping fulfill the mandate of the CRI.

Every Child Ministries thought it was a good thing that most of our children told the visiting team that they like it at Haven of Hope and did not want to leave. Every Child Ministries thought that meant Every Child Ministries must be doing something right. Social welfare workers did not see it that way. A children’s home, according to the CRI, must be a stop-gap measure and not a long term place the child thinks of as home.

While Haven of Hope is NOT amongst the homes who have received a letter giving a date by which it must close, Every Child Ministries sees the direction this is going. Many of their children will be leaving to higher education in the next few years. The Dept. of Social welfare is not going to approve many new children coming. They can’t, because of the CRI. Every Child Ministries is already walking a financial tightrope, so as numbers decrease, the care Every Child Ministries can provide will decrease, and it will quickly become financially unsustainable to keep Haven of Hope open as a children’s home.

But good news! God has already provided a solution.

Cheryl Bockstahler seizes a teachable moment to show Haven of Hope kids the glories of a bug.

Cheryl Bockstahler seizes a teachable moment to show Haven of Hope kids the glories of a bug.

It’s Haven of Hope Academy. To ECM, the home has always been the main thing. Every Child Ministries started Haven of Hope Academy only when it became evident that their children could not receive a good education in local area schools. It has grown with the children, and Every Child Ministries now accommodates children from Nursery through Junior High School.

Now, the school will save the home. You see, Haven of Hope Academy can accept boarding students.
Haven of Hope Academy will never be a rich kid boarding school. Every Child Ministries will accept the same kinds of kids as Every Child Ministries did at Haven of Hope — as charity cases on scholarships.

Every Child Ministries will do for them exactly what Every Child Ministries does now at Haven of Hope — provide a safe shelter in a loving, home-like atmosphere in the name of Christ.

What will change? Only their official affiliation with the government will change. Instead of being under the Dept. of Social Welfare with its long, long list of un-doable requirements for children’s homes and its CRI mandate to close as many homes as possible, Every Child Ministries willl be under the Dept. of Education. The requirements for boarding schools are much more doable. With their desire to provide the very best care possible, Every Child Ministries will be able to do a better job for the children.

This will mean that in the next year or two of transition, Every Child Ministries will need to find some family members who can take official responsibility for each of their children. That will be challenging, in some cases.

But with each family member found, Every Child Ministries can offer a charity scholarship to the child. If the family situation is such that a visit to relatives during vacation is safe, the child will be able to visit (just like now). If not, Every Child Ministries will provide continuing care during that time (just like now).

If family situations have changed so that the child can return home safely, he or she will do so, with joy (just like now). ECM leaders have discussed this at every level — The Haven of Hope Committee & management, The Ghana Board, and the International Board in the U.S. Every Child Ministries all feel that God has already planned a way for us to continue helping kids who need a safe haven, whether that be for 3 months, 3 years, or many years.

Does it matter what Every Child Ministries call it? The name is not the issue. What Every Child Ministries do for children is the issue. That has not changed. If you are a sponsor, that will not change, either. Thank You, Lord, for providing Haven of Hope Academy long before Every Child Ministries realized what a key role it would play in the lives of these precious children! Every Child Ministries laugh for joy, for You had it planned all along!

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