Seeking Refuge: Children of the Crisis

by Jacqueline Monet, Social Media Marketing Manager

 

It’s difficult to imagine circumstances being so atrocious in your own country that you would risk everything to flee into the unknown. Harder still is to imagine doing that on your own as a child. The numbers are difficult to come by, but at least 24,000 unaccompanied children applied for asylum in the EU last year. These children are among the most vulnerable to trafficking, slavery and other horrific fates. The UK just announced that it will do more to help these children, but it will not be opening its doors to 3,000 unaccompanied children, as Save the Children proposed. Instead, the UK will be giving £10m to help these vulnerable children who have already traversed into Europe.

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Photo: BBC News

Unaccompanied children who have family members in the UK will be allowed in and reunited with their family, while the future for the other thousands of vulnerable children remains uncertain. There has been a push to make fostering children easier in countries like Britain, but so far it remains a complicated and difficult situation. Children’s homes have been filling up faster than accommodations can be made for the incoming children, who arrive from as far as Turkey to Germany. The resources, help and organization to facilitate proper care and possibly adoptions is simply not in place.

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Photo: Nish Nalbandian, NPR: “Two Syrian girls color at Bayti orphanage in Reyhanli, Turkey, just across the border from Syria. Many young Syrian refugees have lost one or both parents, but space is limited at orphanages in the city.”

Despite the hardships of the world, life carries on. Babies are being born in the midst of the crisis to Syrian refugee parents in Europe. These children are at great peril of being stateless, as many EU countries do not implement the UN convention of automatically granting nationality to children born in their country. These children are often not eligible for Syrian citizenship, either, as only fathers can pass on citizenship to children, according to Syrian law. Being stateless can have disastrous consequences for these children as they grow up. Without citizenship, people can often not legally work, get married, own property, vote and participate in other facets of adult life.

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Photo: Bilal Hussein, The Associated Press: “A Syrian family sit outside their tent, at a Syrian refugee camp, in the eastern town of Kab Elias, Lebanon.”

We are now witnessing the largest number of refugee children since World War II. Over 4 million people have left Syria to seek refuge in nearby countries and over half of those people are children, alone or with families. It’s a confusing and scary time to be witness to this crisis and far worse to be experiencing it. News is just breaking that Sweden will be expelling as many as 80,000 refugees from its country. To protect these children caught up in the chaos, we need to work together to support refugee families with proper housing and education, find a way to keep records of all refugee children and supporting the children’s homes that are currently providing assistance. We can also petition our governments to grant exemptions in order to speed up the foster care and adoption process, in order to provide immediate care for these children. Supporting organizations like Save the Children, who are on the ground and working towards these goals is a great first step: http://goo.gl/tKNHmQ.

 

Resources

Juvenile Justice Act Now In Effect

Photo: REUTERS/Lucas Jackson. Kailash Satyarthi, 2014 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate.

Indian Parliament recently passed changes to the Juvenile Justice Act in India, to include legislation that will help better protect children. Now there are specific criminal offenses for child trafficking and the usage of children in begging, drug trade or violent crimes. Also, the new law cracks down on the regulation of children’s homes, working to end the abuse and exploitation of vulnerable children living in these institutions. Nobel Peace Prize winner and child activist Kailash Satyarthi spoke out in favor of the law, but said it would require political and financial support to be effective. Although much good could come of this, the new laws are not without criticisms, including that the act will have harsher sentencing for minors. Read more: goo.gl/aSblC6 

Greenhouses for Growth at Children’s Home

St. Catherine’s in Kenya is home to 43 children in need of nutrition, education and social services. We’ve partnered with @amiran_kenya to refurbish 4 greenhouses, which will grow produce to be sold for the benefit of the home. This project has a projected annual income of $2,544.00 for the home, which will be used to fulfill the immediate needs of the children by  improving nutrition, as well as paying for school fees for the older children. Over time with this income generating project, our long-term goal of hiring a social worker for the kids will also be reached. A social worker will help to more effectively run the home and will reintegrate the children back into the community. Please read more and help make this project take off: http://goo.gl/KkGc0L 

Adopting the Right Questions: Understanding Orphans in India

by Jacqueline Monet, Social Media Manager

 

According the the Washington Post, there are over 30 million orphaned children in India and last year, only 2,500 were adopted. As someone who works for an organization that transforms living conditions for orphaned and vulnerable children and has partner homes in India, I can’t help but ask, why?

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Ashirvad Home Tuni, India

 

Our liaison in India, Shobha, recently wrote to us after meeting with the District Officer of Social Welfare in Chennai. Contrary to what many people believe, the majority of children living in orphanages have one or both living parents. They are often placed in orphanages due to poverty, stigma, abuse, and other difficult situations. Shobha relayed that the Indian government verifies that each  family that sends a child to an orphanage lacks the resources to adequately support their child. Most of the orphanages are run by private organizations, under the jurisdiction of the government. Unfortunately, though, it makes it difficult to get these children proper care “because no one can question our government,” according to Shobha.

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LAMP Home Rajamundry, India

 

Would it be better to give aid to the families of children who have no other recourse but to place their children in homes? Is that how the Indian government should allocate its funding, over building institutions? It’s a complicated question about a complex situation. Regardless of what might be the best course of action, how do you account for the millions of children in India living in orphanages and the comparatively miniscule amount of adoptions? In my own personal research, it was hard to come to a conclusive answer as to why it is so difficult to adopt a child from India.

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Adoptions in India are complicated. Families in India are often under more pressure to adopt children who are aligned with their ethnicity, religion and social status. According to Shobha, families often get involved in the adoption process and end up stalling or halting it through concerns of how the child was born, to whom and into which caste. While the caste system is outlawed in India, the legislation is so poorly implemented that it barely makes a difference. Other considerations like the color of their child’s skin and health conditions also are major factors. As such, many children are virtually unadoptable, especially if they have a disability or a health issue.

Even when adoptions happen within India, they remain a long, arduous process that usually takes between 3 and 4 years. Since it is such a difficult process, the illegal adoption market is a huge problem in India. This has resulted in more missing children and less children going to eligible adoption agencies. There are even more additional cultural reasons that need to be taken into consideration, as well. For example, adoptions by Indian citizens who are Hindus, Sikhs, Jains or Buddhists are governed by the Hindu Adoption and Maintenance Act of 1956, which prohibits the adoption of more than one child of the same sex.

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Ziah Home Hyderabad, India

 

For those looking to adopt from other countries, such as the US, the process remains challenging. It’s  very difficult for Americans to adopt Indian children, despite the fact that the U.S. adopts more children internationally and domestically, as the rest of the world combined, according Adam Pertman, author of “Adoption Nation.” Indian authorities first have to determine that the child would be better placed outside of India. The Indian government prioritizes finding suitable Indian parents for adoption over foreign adoptions. Often this means that only disabled and/or older children are eligible for outside adoptions. In addition, certain parameters exclude would-be parents, for example, same-sex couples are not eligible to adopt Indian children.

Meanwhile, the foster care system in India largely remains a mystery to me, due to the lack of information found online. Shobha found that foster care in India is very limited to specific situations, such as a trial period for parents considering adopting a given child. There are alternatives to the traditional orphanage system, however. Shobha was taken by our partner home, Christ Faith Home, to visit an organization where there are women living with their children. These women have been left by their husbands, widowed or have found themselves in another desperate situation of some kind. The home was setup into apartments, with nearly 30 women residing there. The women are able to keep their children and are even learning skills so that they can enter the workforce, like tailoring.

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Source: Christ Faith Home Chennai, India

 

Christ Faith Home recently welcomed two infants into their home. The police brought both babies to them, after one was given to the police and the other was abandoned on a train. “The babies were so cute looking, seeing them I was broken,” said Shobha. She is continuing to visit orphanages and to research their major challenges. Kitechild works to support communities and provide the best lives for children, wherever they might find themselves within the complexity of poverty. It is our job to better the lives of vulnerable children and to care for them, whatever their circumstances might be, and the best way we can do that is through understanding and compassion.

 

Sources:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/asia_pacific/india-moves-to-improve-shameful-record-on-orphan-adoptions/2015/03/20/cefd4fce-c82a-11e4-bea5-b893e7ac3fb3_story.html

 

http://www.businessinsider.in/Child-Adoption-Still-a-long-way-to-go-in-India/articleshow/46986727.cms

 

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/asia/india/7597109/Caste-discrimination-against-Indias-untouchables-is-an-international-issue.html
http://www.cnn.com/2013/09/16/world/international-adoption-main-story-decline/

Important TED Talk About Childhood Trauma

 

 

Life expectancy is lowered by 20 years for people who have experienced childhood trauma, according to the #ACEStudy. Pediatrician Nadine Burke Harris discusses the medical consequences of traumatic experiences in developing children. Watch this important #TEDTalk to learn more about this public health epidemic: goo.gl/KWqEwV 

The Most Important Days of Your Life

“The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why.” MarkTwain

Everyone has the chance to make something great out of their lives, no matter who they are. Live your life on purpose and find the path that you are meant to take. How can you use your gifts and talents to make this world a better place because you lived in it? 

Seeking and Finding Happiness Through Service

by Jacqueline Monet, Social Media Marketing Manager

 

I sometimes peruse “This Day in History,” while searching for inspiration or, at the very least, a good piece of trivia. Yesterday, it turns out, was the day that Albert Schweitzer, the Nobel Prize winning physician and philosopher was born. As I read about him, I found the inspiration I needed from his quote:  The only ones among you who will be really happy are those who will have sought and found how to serve. That statement rings true to me, the organization I work for and for our new partner home.

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Source: Wikipedia

 

Our newest partner home, the Christ Faith Home for Children, is a very special place that has truly sought and found how to serve the vulnerable. Through my work for Kitechild, I’ve gone from a superficial understanding of vulnerable and orphaned children to a much broader perspective that has shifted my focus from simply helping others to supporting communities to be empowered. Similarly, the mission of the Christ Faith Home is to care for the vulnerable members of their community, by attending to their immediate needs and by supporting them to go on to live fulfilling, independent lives.

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Located in Chennai, India, the Christ Faith Home is a secular NGO that works in a multi-faceted way to care for all the disadvantaged members of their community including children, the elderly, the ill and women. Their ideology is based on the proverb: “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.” They work with orphaned and vulnerable children through housing, adoption and educational programs. Like their other programs, such as medical and women’s welfare, their emphasis is on the long-term goal of self-reliance.

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We have installed solar panels at the Peace Garden, their home for 35 boys. This home provides food, shelter and an education to the boys until they reach an age Their electricity bills are a monthly burden for them, so by alleviating that cost, the home can instead spend their money on more nutritious food and the education of the children. The boys are cared for until they graduate school and the home works to aid them in their higher educational pursuits and finding them jobs, so that they can live vibrant adult lives.

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Source: Christ Faith Home

We are so excited for this new partnership and hope that, together, we can continue to serve vulnerable children around the world and continue to bring about lasting change.

Update from the Ashirvad Home

An update from our chicken farm at the Ashirvad Home in India! They recently bought 100 more chicks, which will start producing eggs in March. As this income generating project continues to grow, the home can purchase more produce and computers for the children. Read more about our chicken project that targets the nutrition and education of these kids: goo.gl/LxVhNY 

A Person’s a Person, No Matter How Small

“A person’s a person, no matter how small.” -Dr. Seuss

No matter a person’s age or circumstances in life, every individual matters and deserves to have their basic needs met. Join us in our mission to support communities in empowering their vulnerable children through education, nutrition and reunification with their families. Show that #EveryChild matters today: goo.gl/B6UOlz