THINGS ARE NOT THE SAME however, mainly due to Government policies regarding Child-Care, and the pressures upon it from World Organisations. When God spoke to me to notice 'orphans' it was impressed upon me that I should try to provide family homes for homeless kids who had lost both home and family. The idea was to have married couples with their own family come to be parents in any one of our family units, and to become Dad and Mum to another 30 odd boys and girls who needed home and family, and who were suffering due to the loss of them. A unified Family extended to include more than ones biological children. Then a slightly 'expanded' version of the old cultural 'extended family in the Kenya tradition. We took in boys and girls between 0 and 10 years from any tribal or cultural background, trusting in the Kenya Children's Department, as it then was, to assist us to help only most needy, and completely orphaned. We were welcomed with open arms and great deal of real interest in those early days.
In 2015, after having avoided the issue for some years, we found ourselves facing an edict to remove all those of our children, eighteen and over; out of their 'homes' where they were still attending School or College, and into some kind of 'digs' or hostelry in Eldoret Town. We had resisted because we had disagreed with the idea from the start. We had taken young kids and infants into family home environments and brought them up together. We could see no happy, normal reason to now tell them to get out of their family circle. When we finally did so it was quite traumatic for some, and even now having tried to make the break in continuity as little as possible, we see, if not heartbreak, at least bitterness in the hearts of many. In order to comply with the now named Department of Children's Services, we made available two houses on our compounds to be used as Hostels for over 18 Boys and Girls. When the day arrived for them to be occupied those over 18 left the home and family they had been brought up in and those who had acted as parents to them, and moved away into a sexually segregated and less homely atmosphere whilst they waited to complete their education and find employment so that they could finally leave us with dignity, and a little security. It is working, but it is not the same as it was, and is certainly not an improvement but rather a setback in now being able to continue following our initial vision. We are still able to be together, but the idea of 'family' has been raped and torn apart.
THIS WEEK we have been again warned, with all those also engaged residential child care in Kenya, that we should expect to see all Residential Children's Homes closed down or severely regimented to accommodate Government needs within the possible next few years - and instead the oft failed practise of Fostering will take their place.
TODAY, at the East African Orphan Summit 2016, it is stated that it is 'estimated' that 3.6 million orphaned and vulnerable children are in Kenya - of which 2.4 are orphans, some 350,00 or more on the streets of our town and cities. Another 50,000 are said to be in 1,014 registered and regulated children's numbered. 'The number of unregulated and unregistered homes is unknown but expected to as high as that of the Registered ones - THUS the number of children housed in these orphanages is much higher than estimated.'
This seems at serious odds with what the Government is admitting. Nevertheless it IS saying that this year a million will be cared for through their OVC and Fostering Programmes. It sounds good, but in practise the issue is a doubtful one, with a sizable number of 'fostering placements' finding their way back to the streets annually.
How do we feel about this?
We feel that Fostering is not the ONLY way of assisting and securing children adrift in society. In our own set up we managed to provide an ongoing, safe, and secure environment based on loving 'parent child' relationships. We avoided situations and conditions that would further disrupt a child's security and normal physical and phsycological development. Children who are fostered often end up being moved from home to home or just running away.. Children's Homes have been more able to give children an unbroken opportunity to conclude their walk from childhood to adulthood without interruptions of any kind, and FEW run away. The latter scenario is obviously BETTER for the child than the first. We shall continue to devote ourselves in assisting true and needy orphans, by finding ways and means of giving them back what they have lost, and sure foundation to begin their own lives upon. We shall hope to keep you posted on how things develop as days go by.Finally as a postscript to the foregoing let me add this extract from a report made by the Institute for Research on Poverty:-
'Some agencies shave no more awesome power than the right -with the due process of law - to take children from their parents for an indefinite period of time and dispose of the as they see fit. Although no one disputes the need for foster care, no one endorses it as a solution to the problems for which it is invoked. When children are abused or neglected by their parents, or when the parents cannot - for any number of reasons - care for their children, someone must intervene to see that the children are adequately looked after. That someone is usually the government, and the intervention is frequently foster care.'
BUT what IS good for the child? What ARE the effects of foster care on the functioning of adolescents and adults.
'The authors raise the question of what we should expect from foster care.. Is it sufficient that the care doesn't damage children more than they have already been damaged by the events that led to the break up of their family? Should we rate foster cares as successful if it produces outcomes equal to those of adults in a comparable group in the general population? Or should we seek to devise a system of caring for these need children that enhances their future chances?'
Daryl spent three days this week attending a special Seminar convened in Eldoret. He feels the Government is quite determined to follow through with its program but for the intervention of God.
THIS WEEK, I have been busy trying to put our Address Lists in order. I think I have circulated everyone both on and of E-mail. But let me again encourage those who have received any notice from us to do their best to confirm their contact addresses.
We also had a Donation from many of you via AENON. We do thank you all, and may He bless each and every one.
Lovingly from us all,
John, Esther, and Daryl Green