Did You Know? (part 2)
In our first part of “Did You Know?” we learned that the HOH is not actually an orphanage. If you didn’t get a chance to read that one, maybe a take minute to go read that blog first. You can find it here. In it we talked about the medical and physical hope the HOH seeks to bring kids and youth in our area of Haiti. The goal of this part of our ministry is to get the kids healthy enough to return to their homes and families.
The days when a child is healthy, and their family comes to pick them up to take them back home are always happy days for us. Sometimes the families have not been able to come back and visit the kids since they left them with us, so the transformation from extremely sick to healthy and running around is always a great surprise for their parents. But this day does not come for every child. There are always exceptions where a child or youth cannot safely return to the home or environment where they came from.
For some of these kids, it is a health issue that doesn’t allow them to return to their homes. Some of them come from very tiny mountain villages where there is no health care around. If they need constant care, medicines, wheelchairs and such, this situation cannot work for them. Sometimes, the families just need some extra time to make arrangements to take the kids back home. Other times, their own economic situations don’t allow for that and we end up having the kids for an extended period of time.
Then there are the kids who come from difficult home situations. Each of these kid’s story is unique ranging from sad to tragic. Every time we think we’ve heard it all, a new child comes with a different difficult family situation. Over the years, kids have come to us from abusive situations, from blended families where they are not welcome, from tragic accidents caused by neglect and family quarrels. Some kids have been abandoned in a public place before they are brought to us and then there are the “Restavek” kids.
A “Restavek” (literally “stay with”) is a child who has been given by their families to another family to work as a slave in order to receive food and they are supposed to receive schooling, as well. Most often the reason their families place their kids in these situations is because they do not have the means to care for, nor feed them themselves. But, unfortunately, these placements are most often terrible situations where the child is not loved or cared for and these kids, most often girls, are really treated like they are the bottom rung of the social ladder. They are often mistreated, and they work long hours for very little food or pay. If they do get to go to school, they are sent to cheap, very low-quality schools where it is hard to receive even the most basic education.
In a more developed country, there are programs in place to rescue kids from these rough homes and tough situations and place them in more stable home. In our area of Haiti, this is not an option. If we sent these kids back to where they came from, it would be sending them back to these unhealthy situations.
This is where, for lack of a better term, the “foster” part of the ministry of the HOH comes into play. We work together with the families to keep these kids until better arrangements can be made, or the situation at home changes. We understand that most often the best place for a child is with their family, but there are times when that isn’t a reality, and the HOH is a place that stands in the gap for these kids.
As much as is possible, we keep in touch with the families of these kids. When it is safe and possible the kids take trips to their homes to visit their families and friends. Sometimes, situations change, and we can work with the families to take the kids back to their homes. Sometimes, they don’t, and the kids end up growing up to adulthood with us at the HOH.
These are the kids we send to school in our local community, the kids who call us “Tatty” (Aunty) and even “Manman” (Mom). They grow up as brother and sisters, each coming from his/her unique background and each with their own unique needs, hurts, bumps and bruises. They can understand the hurts and needs of each other, because theirs might look a bit different, but everyone knows what its like to be broken and feel like there is no hope for them.
It is often a tough road of healing, as these kids learn to be loved and to love in return. Often they need to learn how to build relationship and how to get along with others. Linda is awesome at breaking through these tough shells and has learned how to show a balanced amount of love and toughness. Our biggest desire for these kids is for them to learn how much God loves them and that He sent His Son to save them and give them an abundant life with Him as their Hope.
On top of their physical and medical needs being taken care of, these kids also learn how to care for others and not just try to survive and get ahead themselves. They learn how to see life from a Kingdom perspective, of living life in a way that smells like Jesus (2 Cor. 2:15) as they interact with each other and with those in our local community. They have the chance to go to school and get a hope for their futures when they will need to support themselves and even help their own families.
Your support of the HOH allows us to bring all these kinds of hope to these special kids. We certainly could not do it without your partnerships in so many ways. Thank you for the part you play!