Let me start by saying I don’t have allusions to saving the world or starting a movement.
I am an ordinary person.
The Forever Families Project started with a dream.
In the dream, I saw a clear picture of the Earth, the continent of Africa quickly zooming into the country of Ethiopia until it reached ground level. Then, I saw children in distress that had nobody to help them or love them. They were forgotten ones.
I felt deep down in my heart that I needed to do something. That’s what I remembered.
Until this dream, I had no personal connection to Africa besides what I heard or read on the news.
I didn’t know anyone who had been to or was from Ethiopia. But Ethiopia was the starting place for me to travel and learn about this issue and maybe do something. I started this blog to write about my experience.
I learned that Ethiopia is home to one of the largest populations of orphans globally: 13% of children in Ethiopia are missing one or both parents. That’s 4.6 million orphans – 800,000 of whom were orphaned by HIV/AIDS. (UNICEF)
Because of the instability in our world, the need is growing in Ethiopia and across the globe.
Why orphans and vulnerable children resonated with me
My birth family struggled when I was growing up, but we had a safety net that supported us, from programs to extended family to help us stay together. I lived with my grandparents for a while as my parents were going through a hard time. We’re the lucky ones. My grandparents didn’t have to think about having the food to feed me.
As many as 80% of vulnerable children in orphanages globally have living parents (and relatives) but cannot care for them due to a lack of financial resources and social support.
Science shows the best place the child can grow and have the best care is in the family. So now, a global movement aims to reunite children with families and help keep vulnerable families together.
We can safeguard children by supporting this approach that prioritizes families and doesn’t remove children.
Reuniﬁcation, kinship care, foster care, and adoption are alternatives to orphanages.
The solution is to do the following:
- First, help children return to their biological family whenever possible.
- Help children without a safe family ﬁnd a new, loving family in their community.
- Support families at risk of separation (family preservation)
Our vision is to help orphaned children be reunited with their birth families when possible.
In addition, we want to prevent orphans through family strengthening.
That means we help families who are very close to having to give up their children and help them develop economic sustainability.
None of this work will get done with money alone.
It’s about giving a hand up and empowering families to address challenges right from the start.
Rather than start another nonprofit, we want to help organizations that already exist and are doing good work to support family-based care.
Please consider getting involved.