Children in Crisis - Why Money isn't the Answer PDF Print E-mail
Written by Garold Andersen   


Popcorn: a special treatThankfully most of Africa has officially restricted or rejected abortions, but this has not halted the crisis for the unwanted children. Even in cultures that don't endorse abortion, a strong bias exists against single mothers and orphans. In many rural African communities unwanted children live under a stigma, detached from the concern of the community. You hold a key that can drastically impact their lives and it isn't your money.

Every culture has strengths and weaknesses. A weakness of rural Kenyan culture is this bias against orphans. Tribalism has carved it deep into the souls of the people. It rewards the strong and rejects the weak. Though times have changed, the tribal mentality remains. This does not mean that Kenyans or Africans are bad; rather, their culture has created a blind spot within them.

During our years of work with a Kenyan children's home, we have learned that orphans often do not receive the care and nurturing they need. Even in a children's home, their
Mentoring: Garold & the guyscaregivers often view orphans as having little value. Though food and clothing are provided, the detachment the children experience, even from the Kenyan staff, can be harsh. A friend aptly described it as 'emotional abortion'. What did not happen physically before birth happens to these children emotionally after birth. The result is that the most basic foundation for a children's home is missing.

Our ministry's goal is to have a mixed cultural team of Kenyans assisted by a steady stream of western guest workers. To accomplish this, the tribal Kenyans need to be discipled in Christ's nurturing love in order to overcome the negative aspects of their culture, before they can in turn nurture the children in their care.

How can you help?

Our first response should be prayer. Please, seriously pray that the orphans living in these environments of detachment will be sustained in the Father's love. Pray, too, that our Lord will send sensitive laborers into this complex field - not to "fix" the problem with money or material things, like bicycles, toys, or gadgets - but to insert Godly relationships into these homes: to create an environment in which children are nurtured and the staff are inspired to see the children through the eyes of Jesus.

What does this look like in practice?

Fun and Games: a great healer.Relationship: Simply playing games and interacting with the children brings healing to their traumatized souls. Because they have been emotionally abandoned, interaction with adults has a powerful impact.

Tutoring: Because they are viewed in a negative light at school and are given no extra help, tutoring is crucial. The children blossom in the care and attention that is given to help them learn. This is a great opportunity for high school or college students to help as big brothers and sisters.

Basic English Skills: In Kenyan schools most subjects are taught in English. Children from rural settings speak a tribal language and some Swahili. Even the older children in our home do not have adequate English skills, yet are being taught chemistry, physics, and biology in English. Most of the time they have no idea what the teacher is saying. Having English speakers in the home is a real bonus.

Work projects: many staff members simply see their work at the home as a job. Painting, building, or doing gardening work with the children can be an inspiring example to the African staff. The children love doing any job with an adult who will demonstrate and explain. This focused attention and sense of accomplishment is needed in their development.

Presence: Westerners bring a sense of justice to the home. When a Westerner is in our home in Kenya, the local staff acts differently. They become more compassionate, work is done more effectively, and order is maintained. Without a western presence, they easily revert to tribal values. A western presence gives security and protection for the children. Caning the children or sending them to work for a local farmer, though against the law, may be considered normal by the rural Kenyans. However, when Westerners are among them, they think twice about these unrighteous ways.

You might be perfect for a short trip - tutoring, speaking English, and playing games. Or perhaps you are someone who is willing to learn and appreciate the positive aspects of the culture and to invest a few years parenting the children and discipling the African workers in God's righteous ways. In every aspect, short term or long term, Westerners can bring influence of stability, security, and nurturing to counter the blind bias in the rural African culture.

After doing missions projects in many parts of the world, the last place I wanted to embark on another project was Africa. But after having spent 7 years developing several projects in

Smiles - because they now feel secure

Kenya, including a performing arts/mentoring program in the slums and a children's home, my challenge to you is YOU CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE. If you have time and the ability to go, prayerfully consider investing yourself in the lives of the numerous, vulnerable children of Africa.


Garold Andersen and his wife Lori are the leaders of Watershed, a ministry that focuses on creative, innovative, and practical demonstrations of God's kingdom. To learn more about their work visit www.watershedarts.com or follow them on FB: Watershed Arts. For Garold's weekly inspirational writings check out cafesophia.org

 

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