Orphanages were eliminated in the US many years ago. But even when we think of them, our concept of what being an orphan means, is not what it means in many other parts of the world.
The best way I can describe an orphan in both Bolivia and in Uganda is to start by saying the parents are not available to the children. So what does that mean?
In Uganda, the parents may have died, but that is not the only reason children become orphaned. Most of the children we serve are from South Sudan. For many years, there have been outbreaks of war there. Even today there may be a period when rebels kill many people. There are camps where families live and in difficult times children may also get separated from their families. To be clear and not cause worry we are not near any of the places these disturbances happen.
Children become orphaned when their parents die, when they are separated from their parents or when they are abandoned by them. Parents may be alive but cannot or sometimes may not want to care for their children.
We will visit the Amazing Grace Orphanage tomorrow but I want to share some very exciting news with you about a new way we are helping to support these children. Over the past two days we visited families who are participating in a new concept for Uganda — Foster Families. About twenty-six of our children have been re-settled with 6 extended family units. This is until now, not a regular practice here. These children now live with grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins. Amazing Grace offers support to the family to supplement the cost of school fees, clothing and food. These children now have the opportunity to experience a family environment again. There will always be a need for traditional orphanages here, but we are working to expand this new concept as broadly as possible.
I also had the opportunity to meet the new Bishop of the Diocese of South Sudan. The Diocese and the Bishop personally expressed their support for both the Amazing Grace Orphanage and our Foster Family ministry.