Footsteps 101 - Caring for orphans

Footsteps 101 - caring for orphans

Includes case studies, children’s activities and a moving interview about growing up in a children’s home.

Editor's note

Zoe Burden

‘God sets the lonely in families’ (Psalm 68:6). This moving verse echoes throughout this edition of Footsteps. All through the Bible we see God’s special concern for the orphan, the widow and the foreigner – those who may well be alone and vulnerable. He longs for them to know the love and protection of a family. This message is as relevant as ever in today’s society. 

Research shows that the best place to raise children is in a caring and nurturing family environment. This edition features many inspiring individuals, organisations and churches who are working to provide loving families for orphaned and vulnerable children. In Zimbabwe, ZOE is helping churches support orphans in their communities (page 6). In Uganda, CRANE is providing careful support to reunite children with their families (page 17). M’lup Russey is transforming orphan care in Cambodia, as well as helping orphans make a good transition when they leave institutions (pages 10–11). In China, Care for Children is inspiring families to offer foster homes to children in need, including many with disabilities (page 24). 

We hope this issue of Footsteps will encourage those running conventional orphanages to consider ways to improve and strengthen the care they offer, and perhaps even to transition into family and community strengthening programmes (pages 14–15). 

You will notice that Footsteps has a whole new look for its 101st edition! We have introduced some new regular features, including a children’s zone (page 19) and community page (page 23). We would love to feature your insights and the ‘knotty problems’ that are challenging you, so please do get in touch. 

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Footsteps articles

Bible study

Bible study: Does God hate Christmas?

Krish Kandiah helps us think about the kind of worship that God wants from his people.

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Community photo

Community

News, letters and a ‘knotty problem’.

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A loving, stable family is the ideal place for raising children. Photo: Marcus Perkins/Tearfund

Family first: How best to tackle the orphan challenge

How can we work towards a world where every child has the chance to grow up within a loving family?

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Life skills training helps young people learn how to live independently when they leave residential care. Photo: M’lup Russey Organisation

Getting ready to face the world

The M’lup Russey Organisation is transforming the way vulnerable children and young people are cared for in Cambodia.

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ZOE provides orphan families with livelihood opportunities, and church volunteers offer support. Photo: Eleanor Bentall/Tearfund

Helping orphan families thrive in Zimbabwe

Zimbabwe is home to an estimated 720,000 orphans. ZOE (Zimbabwe Orphans through Extended Hands) believes local churches have a vital role to play.

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Peter with some of the others in the children’s home.

Interview: My childhood in a children’s home

Peter Kamau Muthui and his five siblings grew up in residential care in Kenya. In this moving interview, he shares the impact this had on his life.

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Making families stronger centre page screenshot

Making families stronger

Family strengthening is about keeping children in their families and preventing them from being placed in residential care. Here are some things your church or community group can do.

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Xiao Long was born with a cleft palate and was abandoned by his birth parents. But through Care for Children’s support, he now has a new foster family who love and encourage him. Photo: Care for Children

No child left behind

Children with disabilities are among the most at risk of being placed in orphanages. Care for Children is changing this reality for disabled children in China, with incredible results.

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Photo: Maarten van den Heuvel

Resources

A selection of books, websites and training material about caring for orphans.

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Reuniting children with their families

Reuniting children with their families

Reintegration means helping children move back into families and communities. Children and families both need careful support before they can be reunited.

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Many families in the Central Asian States are living in very basic conditions. Photo: Alice Keen/Tearfund

Standing up for the rights of orphans: Lessons from Central Asia

Two inspiring organisations in Central Asia are advocating for the rights of orphans at local and national level.

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Children in an early years programme in Myanmar. Orphanages can transition to provide community services such as this. Photo: Alice Keen/Tearfund

The orphanage that turned inside out

The message is spreading that long-term residential care is not in the best interests of orphans and vulnerable children. As a result, many orphanages around the world are transforming into centres providing family and community strengthening services.

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Illustration: Amy Levene/Wingfinger

Using art as therapy for orphans and vulnerable children

These activities can help orphans and vulnerable children to express their emotions, grow in self-esteem and work through difficult memories.

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Participants from Honduras, Panama, Costa Rica and the Dominican Republic finishing a Casa Viva training course. Photo: Casa Viva

When ‘fostering’ is a new word

Casa Viva is the only organisation actively implementing foster care in Costa Rica. Working through the local church, they encourage families to offer a home to children in need.

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Words used in this edition

Explanations of some of the words and phrases used in this edition.

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