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?

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?

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

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?

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.

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

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.

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?

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?

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.

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.

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.

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.

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?

DontSHOUTTTTTT Mon 22-Apr-13 10:42:13

OP,
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

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