Orphan Care In An Unstable World

traditionsWe’re less than halfway through the year 2020. So far, we’ve gone through impeachment trials, locusts, famine, race riots, and an ongoing pandemic and economic collapse. These are obviously unstable times in which we’re living. So how does one approach the expanding world of orphan care in a rapidly changing world? We must provide as much stability as we can to the young lives in our care.

Someone on our team recently observed that our children are not big on change. They had been serving a specific snack every week during a small Bible study and wanted to mix it up a little. The kids were kind of upset; they didn’t get their regular, expected cookies. In thinking this through, it makes sense. Most of our children come from pretty horrific backgrounds and never knew what life would be like from one day to the next. When they reached something they see as “normal,” they hang onto it with every fiber of their being.

We all want stability in our lives, and we want to know what to expect later today. We want to know holiday traditions will take place, we need a sense of order in our lives. You see this with the massive push to get back to “Normal.” Amid the lockdown, you would think it wouldn’t be difficult to stay home, sit around and read, watch TV, etc. But people have been going crazy waiting to go back to their regular restaurants, to start back at the gym, to bring the routine back into their lives.

For a large percentage of the population, stability is long gone. Loved ones have become sick or died, and life as they knew it before, has changed dramatically. What was normal previously will never happen again. Very few adults can handle this level of change well. Imagine what a child goes through when their lives have been turned upside down. When all stability has been ripped out from under them.

When dealing with orphaned or abandoned children, we have a responsibility to bring as much stability as we can back into their lives. Keeping a child fed, clothed, and educated is only the first step of orphan care. We need to bring stability and a sense of order. Stability brings healing and gives someone the ability to move forward.

My guess is, if you grew up in a semi-normal family, you had certain traditions. Maybe you got to pick the meal on your birthday; maybe your family put up the same ugly plastic Christmas tree every year, maybe your dad made pancakes every Sunday before church. Traditions bring comfort, they bring stability, they bring a sense of order to the world.

You probably have things you do every day, and you feel “off” if you can’t do them. Maybe it’s coffee in the morning before everyone else is up, it’s perhaps the same donut stop on the way to work, perhaps it’s walking through the house before bed and making sure the doors are locked. We all have our “routine” that brings comfort.

If you are reading this and run an orphanage, I encourage you to maintain or create new traditions and patterns for your home. Many orphanages have seen a semi-steady stream of visitors in the past. The reality is, groups are not coming back anytime soon. But that doesn’t mean the activities that went on need to stop. If it’s possible, have your staff do crafts with the kids, create special events, create as much of a healthy atmosphere as you can between your children and staff. You are the only stable thing in your children’s lives.

In our home, although groups have stopped, the vast majority of our regular traditions continue. Every child gets a cake on their birthday; we have our version of the tooth fairy, bible studies, and soccer games continue. These small rituals are essential.

We are all moving forward into unknown territory. Our journey will be scary, and new, and different. The hope is you can find normal again. Please keep that in mind for the children in your care. Stability matters. They want the same stability you crave in your own life.

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