My daughter was adopted at age 2 from a large orphanage in Asia. She was one of 800. She lived with 16 other children, all with the same special need. They slept in 16 cribs crammed into 4 rows of 4. They had a small playroom where they spent their days. Lastly there was a bathroom with sinks to bathe the kids and changing tables for diaper changes. Two staff members cared for the sixteen infants. She had never been outside. Although the orphanage was large and held about twice the number of children that it was built for, it was an award winning place. There were toys for the children. It was kept clean. There are far worse places.
At Project 82 Kenya, we know that large orphanages can not take the place of families. Studies have shown that children who live in large institutions can have serious side effects such as attachment disorders, low self esteem, low weight, late or no ability to talk, walk, and failure to thrive.
Instead of taking children out of their family unit to live in a large institution, we strive to help families before abandonment happens. For many families, this means helping pay school fees for their children. Other families need help with job skills to become self sustaining. Some families need assistance with food, shelter, or water for a short period of time.
Whenever possible, children are placed within a community member called a Guardian. Guardians
are community members who are able to care for themselves and additional children. We provide job training and child care training. For example, Dorcus at 87 years old, is our oldest guardian in our program. Her two foster sons have grown into nice young men and are living away at a prestigious boarding school. They come home to her on the holidays and always know that Dorcas is their loving mother. In addition to being a foster mother, Dorcus is a mentor and encourager to many of the younger guardians.
House of Hope
Children who can not live with their families and can not be placed within the community come to live at the House of Hope. They live together as a family with a House Mom who lives with them. Additional staff come to help during the day. The children eat together family style. They have chores just like a regular family. The children walk to school together and attend church together.
We believe that all children should be raised within a family, whether it is their birth family, an adopted family or a family specifically designed to serve orphans. These settings provide children with family members who love and care for them and will always be part of their lives. A child never ages out of his or her family. A family is forever.
We are not an orphanage. We are a home for children and we are #hereforgood.