Sep 22, 2009

I feel misled

I've been dreading writing this for a while now.  Here goes. 

What does the word "Orphan" mean to you?  To ME, it means - has no parents (No mother or father).  I was told (and it's everywhere in literature and on the internet, in sermons ... everywhere), that there are 143 million orphans in the world.  I even wrote an article about it, had it on my website. 

Turns out, they have a new definition for the word "Orphan" ... meaning - having lost one parent.  There are 143 million "orphans".  You are called a "double orphan" if you have lost both parents.  There are approximately 16 million of those in the world.  (Still a lot, but a huge difference.)

According to Unicef (the noted expert on this subject) says of those 16 million "double orphans", 95% of them live with a relative (grandparents, aunts, etc.) and are not available for adoption.  Now I have NO clue if this data is correct or not. I'm not even going to cite where I read this - just google it for yourself if you want.  I'm simply saying, I feel misled.

Does this change the fact that these 143 million children NEED help?  Of course not.  But it DOES change what things they need.  They don't need a family, need to be adopted.  They need services around them, services for their family and community.  It completely shifts the focus for me at least. 

My head has been spinning.  As the director of SHOES (a non-profit designed to help these orphans), I have to rethink what we are doing and if we're meeting the actual need, not just the one I was told was there. 

Thoughts?  Suggestions?  Where does my ministry go from here?  I'd love to hear from all of you on this. 

Maybe I'm the last person on the planet to have figured this out ... I highly doubt it. 

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