A journal entry I recently uncovered on my computer, dated September 2008, is a great reminder of the personal passion that soon became one of Compasio’s key principles, Keeping Families Together, and has guided our approach ever since.
September 14, 2008 – Warehousing Children
The intern journaled her first week along the border: “I saw a Hindu mother’s tears as her two children, whom she had just given up, were led away by the orphanage worker. I guess this is for the best.”
‘I saw a mother’s tears as her children were led away…I guess it’s for the best.’
As I read this all I could think of was, Why did this mother have to lose her children? What were these two little girls thinking as the only family they had left, the mother who had given them life and love in the midst of horrible circumstances, allowed them to be taken away by strangers?
“It’s all for the best”… “Think of all they can have — an education and a nice roof over their heads. What a great improvement!”… “They are the lucky ones”… “They were at risk.” These phrases are repeated over and over again as I’m sure they have been through centuries of charity past. Having children of my own, I feel this woman’s pain through the simple observation of our intern and I wonder how many ‘orphans’ have been the direct result of well-meaning help? If this mother had been given just a little for food or shelter, or had been actually listened to, could she have held on to her kids long enough to see them grow into young women? Couldn’t they have been helped as a family, kids and mom alike? How could this well-meaning organization have perhaps addressed the immediate issues rather than destroying a natural family to replace it with unnatural group living?
Creating Orphans to Build Orphanages
I’ve heard the sadness and frustration of others who feel the same as they’ve attempted to help families in a healthy way, and then watched as others have swooped in, eager to separate children out of their environments, to warehouse them in their children’s homes.
I’ve also observed foreign visitors who come to visit these ‘godly homes’, impressed by the program and facilities, by the crowd of smiling faces with well-practiced songs and presentations as their van pulls up to the front door.
I’ve listened to orphanage staff or funders talk about the number of kids their homes have, as though bigger were better. ‘Institutional’ means ‘easy to control’, and ‘big’ means ‘more visible’, sadly enough, more attractive to foreign funding. Like buying in bulk, it may give the appearance of efficiency, but children are not business. These are our children; they are you and I at a young age. Innocent, they also dream, long to be special, to be loved. They experience, they remember.