A Big Win for the Children & Staff at Shalom in Tanzania

A recent study by the Center for Health Policy and Inequalities and the Duke Global Health Institute looked specifically at the rates of “Poor Health Among Orphaned & Abandoned Children and Their Caregivers.”

It should come as no surprise to anyone who has visited a children’s home in the developing world that conditions are less than favorable in most of these environments. When Serving Orphans Worldwide comes alongside a partner home, we want to do more than just send money each month when there is a real opportunity to increase the quality of life for both the children and staff.

Our four focus areas are Home, Health, Education, and Faith. When we make investments in those areas, children can have a foundation to build on.

In the summer of 2017, we identified a need at Shalom Children’s Home in Tanzania. For the 73 children plus staff who live on the campus, there were only three toilets and no shower stalls on property. One staff toilet and two other toilets shared by all 73 children can become a major health concern.

Thanks to a special gift from a family in the US, they have just completed a major update to their campus and have enough facilities for all children, staff, and even future visitors!

The Story of Shalom:

Edwin’s Story – Dreaming Big in Guatemala

At the age of 7, Edwin and his two siblings were taken to Casa Shalom orphanage in Guatemala after their mother fled the country during a time of civil war and their father was involved in a tragic motorcycle accident.

Before coming to Casa Shalom, he had never been to see a doctor. Edwin loved to play soccer, but he struggled to catch his breath and keep up with all the other children. As part of the intake process, Edwin received medical care, and a life-threatening heart condition was discovered that required immediate surgery.

After multiple surgeries and years of recovery, Edwin was able to experience life to the fullest and participate in sports after school with all of his friends. There was still an emptiness in Edwin’s heart that he carried from losing his family, but God was able to do an amazing work in Edwin’s life.

Having every excuse to settle for mediocrity and to live in a place of bitterness and depression over what was a very traumatic childhood, Edwin decided instead to have joy. God promised him a future and a hope.

After High School, Edwin was able to attend University and live at the Casa Shalom campus for a few more years. His dream for many years was to save up enough money to start a business, so he studied Business Administration. Once he obtained his degree, he got a job as a teller at a local bank and saved up enough money to import a car from the United States and re-sell it for a small profit.

Using the knowledge and tools that he learned from University as well as Casa Shalom, Edwin has been able to build a thriving business that now also employs other former Casa Shalom children including his little sister.

He dreams about a day when his country heals from some of the wounds still left over from the civil war and economic hardships of the past. He believes that God will continue to use him to make a difference in the lives of more young adults who need a hand up and a chance to work and earn a living.

On November 10th, 2017, Edwin travelled to Texas to attend the World Without Orphans Gala where he was presenting with the 2017 Innovation Award.

The Father’s Love in Action in Uganda

Serving Orphans Worldwide is excited to add a new ministry to the growing list of homes that we support in East Africa. The Omwana House in Uganda is a program of Parental Care Ministries and they provide a loving home for abandoned and orphaned infants and toddlers. We want you to meet a three year old little boy named Arnold ­— adorable with a beautiful smile and filled with the potential and love God has placed in him.  He lives in a mud hut in a village in Uganda.

His mother abandoned him — and his father leaves him at home every day while he is out looking for work.  How could he possibly survive, much less thrive? When the local authorities heard that Arnold and his siblings were home alone, they stepped in. They brought Arnold to the Parental Care Ministries Omwana House. “Omwana” is Ugandan for “baby”.

 

The team at the Omwana House prayed for Arnold, provided nourishing food, medical care and loved on this child knowing he had a Jeremiah 29:11 purpose for his life.

Today Arnold is a thriving, happy, even entertaining child.  He is a natural born leader and is looked up to by the other children. He is six years old and goes to one of the four Parental Care Ministries primary schools. We are thankful for the way that the Lord meets the needs of the babies that He brings to the Omwana House.

 

About The Omwana House

When Jesus said “I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you” (John 14:18), He was revealing the work of the Holy Spirit through the lives of His people. This Scripture comes to life at the Omwana House, a loving home for orphaned and abandoned babies in Uganda.

The Omwana House is a safe haven where the helpless can turn for hope. Whether children were orphaned at birth or faced with the trauma of abuse or neglect, our goal is to welcome them with love and care.

 

Story by: Heather Allen – Parental Care Ministries

Education. Putting the Power of Possibility Into the Hands of a Child.

The written word has the power to set people free. Throughout human history, God has given us a narrative that reveals our creation story, our past, and even our future in Christ Jesus. When the persecution of the early church and 1st century followers of Christ wasn’t enough to squash the spreading flame of the gospel, the enemy attacked our ability to access and read the Bible. For hundreds of years, nobody except an elite few had access to scriptures and text to read and study in their own language.

Literacy is a gift that sets captives free.

One of our biggest focus areas around the world at each home is education. We fight for the education of every orphaned child around the world because we believe that education puts the power of possibility into the hands of an orphaned child.

UNESCO estimates that there are approx. 120 million adolescent children without any access to a basic education. Most of these children have been orphaned or abandoned.

One of our homes on the front lines of this crisis is Bethsaida Home for Girls in Tanzania. In certain parts of East Africa, only 1 out of 5 girls ever attend high school, and those figures are much lower when you consider the orphaned population of children.

In a culture where girls are told they need to prioritize everything else above going to school, many of them are just trying to survive. Studies have shown that when girls attend high school, their chance for early pregnancy and other major risk factors goes way down!

Despite the fact that all of the 150 girls at Bethsaida have experienced a lot of trauma during their short life-times, there is so much joy in their hearts and they are loved!

Joy of the Father

The name Abi means My Father. In the Bible it is the name of the Prophet Zechariah’s daughter, who became the wife of Ahaz, King of Judah.  Even though she is only briefly mentioned in the Bible, Abi was certainly a woman of God. Relying on the teachings of her father, Abi stayed true to her creator in spite of her husband’s godless decisions as king. If it had not been for the wisdom of their son Hezekiah, who listened to the Lord, Judah would have been conquered. Hezekiah obviously did not learn to listen to the Lord by following the example of his father. It was his mother Abi who, true to her name, clung to the fatherhood of God and sought to do his Will.

At Casa Shalom Orphanage in Guatemala there used to live a little girl named Abi. Abi was brought to the home by the child protection system at only 4 months old. There is little known about Abi’s biological family except that her mother abandoned her, and her elderly grandmother was in no condition to care for a baby.

Abi’s full name is Abigail which means ‘Joy of the Father’. Abi knows nothing about her biological father, and even though she was treated with love and care at Casa Shalom, she did not have the opportunity to know a father’s protection or provide her father with joy as a child. It is easy to assume that her name has little meaning. After all, Abigail is a common name. Her mother may not have known the meaning when she chose it, but God knew. God doesn’t make mistakes or believe in coincidences. In Proverbs 16:9 it say, “In their hearts humans plan their course, but the Lord establishes their steps.”

Even so, Abi’s name seemingly did not make sense for many years. In fact, because of the culture and regulations in Guatemala, lots of time passes and Abi still did not have a physical father to bring joy. There is a law in Guatemala stating that only those who are both Guatemalan citizens AND residents can adopt Guatemalan children. While this law was most likely created with the safety of the children in mind, it has caused their likeliness of adoption to be next to none. In addition to this, Guatemalan culture as a whole does not highly value adoption (although that is slowly changing). These factors together gave little hope for Abi to be adopted and even less hope the older she got. As everyone knows, the older a child gets, the less likely they are to be chosen.

Then, unexpectedly, a local pastor and his wife stepped in and decided they would become Abi’s forever family. Imagine her heart, protected against hoping for the impossible, suddenly pried open. Every year that passed, a board had been nailed over the door to her heart slowly draining it of hope. The first one was placed there by government regulations. The next one hammered on by culture. Then, year after year more were added with age. But now, at the age of nine, one little heart has been saved from being hammered shut. She probably felt fear, her world was changing. Then she probably felt hope, a refreshing dose running through her veins. But then, Abi must have been filled with joy. At last! Abi’s name makes sense. She not only has joy in her life, but now she is the joy of her father.

While this may seem like Abi’s destiny, it is arguable that Abi’s name had already been fulfilled. For those nine years while Abi was awaiting her father to arrive, she was being taught about another Father, her heavenly Father. Through those years, when Abi had no physical father to bring joy, she realized that she could give her joy as worship and gratitude to her heavenly father. Abi, just like the Abi in the Bible, stayed true to her name and clung to the fatherhood of God, seeking to do his will and bringing him joy. We are incredible thankful to Casa Shalom for being the vessel that introduced Abi to both of her fathers. Now Abi is experiencing a new kind of life with her new family. While many things have changed, one thing has stayed the same. Abi is still the joy of her father in heaven and now she is the joy of her father on earth as well.

 

Story by Abbie Russell – SOW Marketing Intern