Dean Broersma and Herman teVelde, members of Sunnyside (Wash.) Christian Reformed Church, are working to keep orphans in Zambia in their own communities.
While many well-meaning Westerners have built orphanages, Broersma said, “a child raised outside his community and culture is at risk of being an outsider his whole life.”
So Broersma and teVelde are working with Tim Bootsma of the Christian Reformed World Relief Committee to provide care for children within their own villages.
Early in 2006, Broersma and teVelde traveled to Zambia to help set up a program of care for new widows and orphans. Traditionally, communities cared for their most needy members within the village. This program of care seeks to work within that structure once again, giving support to orphan caregivers through income-generating assistance.
For example, one man was supplied with pigs and training to start a piggery, generating income to help him support an orphan in his care. Once his pigs produce a litter, the man will pay back to the program by giving a pig to another family to start a piggery business. These families will then be able to feed themselves and an orphan and, it is hoped, generate some extra income as well.
Trained volunteers visit the orphans to ensure their needs are being met. And orphans meet regularly with volunteers to talk, sing, and learn. There are currently five volunteers working with 2,400 orphans in several villages.
Bootsma said that one hope for the near future is to get these volunteers some training in child psychology. “This program can make a big impact. It can change their future,” he said.