This post is authored by Dawit Kassaye who acted as Zeway Food for the Hungry Director for several years until continuing his studies at Denver Seminary. Dawit is pursuing his Masters in Biblical Studies. Dawit has walked with the poor in Ethiopia for many years and has a passionate heart for the plight of the orphan.
There are many barriers that inhibit many families from adopting children from within their own community especially in Zeway, Ethiopia. First, the level of poverty hampers the lives of so many people which would not let them ‘adopt’ a child into their family. These families normally have large families. The average number of children per family is six and mainly the father wins bread but the mother in most cases is a housewife or else makes a very insignificant amount of income. Thus, impoverished life situation makes them have a blind spot on orphan crisis. It would not let them bring in a child to include as a permanent family.
Second, many people are insensitive to the orphan crisis. It is a spiritual or social sense ‘leprosy’. Their antenna could not detect the danger. They comfortably live with the orphan crisis. The community at large the church in particular lost their sense for many reasons. As the crisis inundate like a tsunami no active response is being seen!
Third, the wrong assumption of the solution to the problem, that is, many think that the problem of the orphans can be resolved only via the adoption agencies or NGO. This has been reflected as I work in the area. Many families who can afford to help at least one child come to our project office along with orphaned child with the intention that we (as NGO) assist the child. These mindsets cripple them to care for the parentless. These agencies are erroneously considered as “parents” for the unparented. Many state that “these children are yours”, thus as I decipher the concept, it marks a shift of responsibility. However, what I actually appreciation with the BOG, FH/E Zeway and ZECF is that it is a partnership which saves itself away from this danger!
Fourth, many parents afraid that the ‘adopted’ child would spoil their children in character, discipline etc consequently they do not want to include them in their family. However, it is preferred to temporarily help a child away from their home. No one would dare to take a long life commitment of these kinds of children. Fifth, children are cheap! Culturally no due attention is given to children. Many are passive when they see orphaned, homeless, hopeless children sleeping on the street, begging daily for food on the street. Finally, if they ‘adopt’ they fear that the child when grow up would leave them to get connected with his or her distant or close relatives. This takes place occasionally.
To sum up, the stated problems should not leave us with gloomy future for these orphaned children. However, better strategies need to be designed and implemented via the families, community, church and government. I would argue that the church is the best solution to the stated problem because the church is given God’s heart for the orphans!
To hear more from Dawit and his work with the poor, listen to this FH podcast.