Orphanage, or Something Else?
In 2014, Abundant Life Christian Center received a letter from the governor of Bungoma, Kenya. The letter was letting them know that they’ve done a survey of all the children that are on the street, and are really hoping that Abundant Life can do something about this. They are interested in partnering. The survey showed that there were more than 1,000 boys in Bungoma County that were homeless; they would love to see ALCC help to build an orphanage.
Here was the problem. Orphanages keep children forever, essentially. Abundant Life wanted to figure out a new solution. The question was asked “should we look at foster care?” The idea, at first dismissed, was brought back, with a focus on the question “after we rehabilitate the children… what then?” After all, the home isn’t Heaven; it’s not their final destination. The goal wasn’t just to get them off the addiction, but it was to integrate them back into society.
In the end, the Reach team got together a designed a brand new system. Between college instructors, drug rehabilitation specialists, psychologists, and more, they got together every Wednesday to tackle this problem and to develop the solution. Hard to questions had to be explored, such as:
• How do you get the boys in?
• How do you select the boys? What are the parameters?
• What are the “best practices” (per the United Nations) for children’s homes?
It was realized up front that pursuing this new model couldn't be done purely from a Western or American mindset. What would work in the United States just isn't the same as what would work in Kenya.
To that end, research was done to determine that whatever they build would be both culturally relevant, and also supported by the local government in Bungoma. It had to be known that the goal was to never to take the ideas that work in the U.S. and just transport them, or to just Americanize the boys.
Everyone on the team had to work to understand that every idea explored in this new model would work specifically for Kenya.