People sometimes ask me how we determine which children are accepted to live at Jonathan’s House for Orphans in CAR. That’s an excellent question, because our capacity is very limited and there are hundreds of thousands of orphans in the country. There may even be millions, and many of them are in need of the care that provide. This is one of the most difficult decisions that Samuel and I have to make at the orphanage. Here are some of the things that we consider when making this determination:
What is the child’s current health status? Naturally, this is our primary concern. If we believe that a child is in immediate danger of dying, we will either accept the child on a temporary basis or refer them to an appropriate medical facility. Most of the children that we have accepted in recent years have been narrowly rescued from death. Even if a child is not an orphan, we sometimes provide medical rescues during emergency situations, such as broken bones or a life threatening hernia. After the child’s healing is completed, the child and mother return to their home.
What special needs exist that need to be considered? Long term health concerns and emotional trauma from past events are often factors to consider. For example, will the child receive the necessary medical care for medical conditions if they are not accepted? Is Jonathan’s House equipped to provide that care? Before accepting a child on a long term basis, we must develop a long term plan for emotional and physical special needs care.
What is the age of the child? Younger children are especially vulnerable to long term effects caused by malnutrition.
Where is the child currently living? Children living on the streets are forced to try to survive by any means possible. This often leads them to become involved in very risky behaviors. The dangers of street living make this living situation extremely dangerous, and it can often result in early death from malnutrition, AIDS, or involvement in drugs.
What is their family situation and are there family members that can provide acceptable care for the child? This is a critical question. Whenever possible, our goal is to keep children with family members that are can provide reasonable care for them. Although some family members may prefer that we raise the children, we believe that Jonathan’s House should be a last resort for care, not a first option to ease the financial burden on the extended family. Separation from the family is sometimes necessary for a short term rescue, but it is not our goal for the long term.
Ultimately, the solution for the orphan crisis must come from the people of the Central African Republic, not from Jonathan’s House. Most orphans in CAR receive care from relatives, and we believe that is the best option, provided that the care they receive is appropriate. Jonathan’s House for Orphans was designed to be the last option for children who are in truly desperate need and who are in danger of dying without a rescue. It is our hope and prayer that the situation will improve in CAR so much that orphan rescue will no longer be needed in the future. Hopefully, we will be able to shift our focus completely to health care and education in the future. Until that day arrives, we will continue to rescue orphan children from the most dangerous and desperate situations.