Welcome to the initial “Every Child” blog post. The primary focus of our blog will be to raise awareness for the terrible circumstances and dilemmas facing millions of children around the globe and to discuss what each of us can do to make a difference in the lives of children and families in crisis. In the future, our blog posts will focus on specific issues and solutions to help those in desperate need. Given that, we thought it would be prudent to share a little information about ourselves and our mission.
At Bethany, we are about children in families. I have been in social work for nearly 40 years, and in my time as President and CEO of Bethany Christian Services, one of my greatest joys is being able to meet a family or a child that we have been able to keep or bring together through the work we do.
In a trip to Ethiopia last year, I had the privilege of meeting a mother and her five children. One of her children has Down syndrome, and she was in danger of losing some or all of her children due to poverty. Through our skills education and microfinance efforts, she was able to keep her family together and create a business that has now empowered her to sustain her family. See her story here: http://vimeo.com/27495933.
I am proud to say Bethany is a premier family preservation agency: The heartbeat of our organization is providing the best possible scenario for the child. We do that through serving women and children, keeping families together, and finding families for children in need. Our services in 21 countries and spanning five continents have provided families and communities with a lifeline of hope and help.
Through our international family preservation services, we offer families and communities services that combat poverty including life-skills training and practical resources that strengthen families and keep them together. Often times, we provide these families with access to doctors, therapists, schools, and other community resources to meet their needs that would otherwise not be available to them. In Haiti, the situation is complex and fragile. Due to the tragic circumstances pre and post 2010 earthquake, there is a great need for training and practical assistance for families. Bethany is partnering with persons on the ground in Haiti to do skills training and to work together with Haitian government, churches, and organizations to change the widely accepted practice of restavec, a modern day form of child slavery. We know that children thrive in safe, loving, and strong families and our work is to protect them and enhance their lives through quality social services around the globe.
The problems that children and families are facing aren’t only happening “outside” of the United States. There are many people struggling right here in our cities. Bethany is working to preserve families in the U.S. through avenues like our Safe Families for Children ministry. This is a movement of volunteer host families who agree to open up their home to children whose families are experiencing a crisis. Many families are faced with unmanageable or critical circumstances that could result in their children being removed from their home temporarily or permanently. Through Safe Families for Children, a volunteer host family provides a loving sanctuary to the family in need, giving them an opportunity to stabilize their situation so their children can return home. This is entirely voluntary, and children remain in contact with their parents throughout the stay. Often times, the host family establishes an ongoing relationship with the parent(s) to offer support and assist them in addressing their difficulties. Knowing their children are living temporarily in a safe, loving home allows parents to take the steps needed to regain stability and be reunited with their children quickly and safely.
Defend the cause of the weak and fatherless; maintain the rights of the poor and oppressed. (Psalm 82:3 NIV)
Thank you for visiting our blog and please keep coming back, as we seek out a community of people who believe that every child deserves a family.