"What do you want to be?" (#ServeOrphansWell)
by Rey Diaz
Posted on Tuesday, November 15, 2016
Posted on Tuesday, November 15, 2016
Education improves food securityEducation reduces malnutritionEducation improves standards of healthEducation reduces spread of communicable diseasesEducation improves gender equalityEducation prevents sexual abuseThe first boy I ever met at the Tegucigalpa garbage dump was Rene. I asked him what he wanted to be and he answered “a garbage truck driver.” I was struck. It was the first time I had heard that answer. I asked why and he replied “because then I can leave this garbage dump.” Since that day God has done a miracle in his life and Rene, despite all odds, has shown grit and tenacity like no one I have ever met. Today he is at the university study computer sciences. Education has opened up the doors for him so that he doesn’t have to continue scavenging through the garbage.Education is at the core of what we at Orphan Outreach offer when serving orphans and vulnerable children. Christ centered education. We do not settle for simply enrolling children into schools because many have found that poor education is just as detrimental as no education. We place a heavy emphasis on quality education.We have a focus on education for girls beyond 6th grade. There is a steep decline in attendance in middle and high school for girls, especially in rural areas. Middle school girls were recently asked what they wanted to be when they grew up, and even they struggled to find answers. For most of them, the expectation is marriage when most girls in the United States are going on their first dates, and a life that focuses on tending to the home. Yet we know that educated girls and women tend to be healthier, have fewer children, earn more income and provide better health care for themselves and their future children. These benefits also are transmitted from generation to generation and across communities at large.We also work with children who have special needs. In many countries, discrimination, social attitudes, poverty, lack of political will, and poor quality of human and material resources leave children with disabilities more vulnerable to being excluded from education. It is essential that societies adapt their education systems to ensure that these children can enjoy their basic human right without discrimination of any kind.Irene, the founder of the Down Syndrome School in Guatemala City is changing culture for children with special needs. She and her husband sold their home to start the school years ago, and they have been committed to providing accessible education and life skills training to children and their families. She says, “This school is a welcoming place for the children. Some can communicate well, and some have significant challenges. But they understand each other, help each other, love each other. God has allowed us to be part of a good future for the children.”Elizabeth, the social worker at ACK Madeleine School in Bungoma, Kenya, says she’s watching the children at her school be transformed through the power of Christ-centered education. And she knows the changes happening now will impact lives long into adulthood. Her words are an encouragement to me.“Our children are very good advocates to their families, and parents come back to me and share what they have learned. And that makes me happy. And I want this place to be even more comfortable for everyone who gathers here. I see a place flying high above the standard here – a place where children are proud and lives are changed and our community is changed because of it. Oh, and in my dream, these children learn and grow and then come back to be a great help to their own parents. They become business leaders, and they become teachers. They uplift the lifestyle at home of their families, making homes safer and improving the environment and ensuring safety.”In Ezekiel 22:30, God said he looked for someone to stand in the gap, but could not find anyone. That is not the case today. If God were to look for people willing to stand in the gap for the orphans and vulnerable children we serve in the seven different countries, he would find a dedicated community of Christians who are standing for these children. In each country, Orphan Outreach partners with national ministries, coming alongside to help support the physical, emotional, spiritual, and educational needs of the vulnerable. And we know that as we stand in the gap for these kids, more and more of their dreams and God’s plans for their lives will become a reality.