History of Bethel Orphanage
Bethel Orphanage was established officially on 16th April, 2001, to provide a family environment where material support, love, security and dedicated guidance is offered to such poor children.
Zambia, like many developing countries has witnessed a deteriorating economy since the late 1980s. With the privatization of sate owned enterprises (SOEs) in the 1990s the economy experienced sharper declines in its local industry. It could not survive stiffer foreign competition after years of protectionism. The country has experienced unprecedented massive job loses that have resulted in sharp poverty increases.
The former bread winners could no longer support their families and the needy extended family members who were under their care. The problem only worsened as the HIV/AIDS epidemic began to surge during the 1990s. It replaced poverty as the leading cause of the child-care crisis. Helpless orphans and vulnerable children are off-loaded in the streets once they have no one to care for them. The following outlines the various ill-equipped households that end up requiring the care of children by established institutions.
· Child Headed Household
Here, children are abandoned and neglected by relatives after the death of their parents or simply have no living relative at all. Invariably the eldest child though assumes responsibility of the home, is not prepared financially or emotionally. He/she tries through by doing child labor and all sorts of activities from stealing to begging.
· Household of Orphans
Like in the child headed households, the orphans have no guardians, but in this case none of the young children is able to assume responsibility.
· Female Headed Households
There is a rising number of female-headed households coming from a two-fold situation:
a) Male parents dying leaving the wife with no resources to cope.
b) Male parents abandoning their matrimonial homes thus creating a number of children growing up fatherless, yet they have fathers who are alive.
· Ill-equipped Guardian Households
Here, children who have lost have parents have guardians who are financially ill equipped that the children are as worse off as not having anybody at all caring for them.
The Question of Institutionalized Orphanage or Direct Community Based Support
Against the above background it becomes interesting to look at the issue concerning institutionalized care of orphans against community based support.
It has been suggested that care for orphans should not be institutionalized, but rather be community based so that the community as a limited front takes center stage in mobilizing resources for distribution to orphans in their respective households. As has been mentioned, the economic decline in a poor country like Zambia has created a vast unemployed army that cannot support any community initiative, however progressive. In addition, people have shown to be less able or caring in mobilizing resources to care for community members in need.
This is not to say that people do not care about vulnerable children or orphans in their communities. If this was so Bethel ministry which hitherto has been supported by donations from many community members would not be in existence. The above scenario demonstrates that people with something to give usually find it more convenient to contribute through a central institution such as Bethel ministry.
The Current Nature of Bethel Orphanage
Bethel is the only institution of its kind operating in the district of Kafue town with a population of over 700,000. Most are very poor.
Bethel Orphanage is a conducive residence for homeless and poor children being off loaded into the streets. The conduciveness of Bethel comes from its loving atmosphere where staff members have been careful to avoid an isolated and rigid prison-like situation. Currently four homely ladies are resident at the orphanage as caregivers who provide motherly love and guidance The children are allowed to interact socially with others in the community, going to schools and striking social relationships.
There are currently over 100 children registered under the care of Bethel Orphanage in Kafue, Zambia. The Orphanage acts more as a drop-in-center/transit house mostly used as an emergency measure and that in the long term orphans should stay with their family members no matter how ill-equipped they may be. This is encouraged so that the children do not lose their family identity and social ties, as much as possible.
So far, from the inception of the Bethel, a number of children who were on their own, have been helped to trace their relations. Less than half of the very needy orphans out of the 100 plus are resident at the Orphanage home. The rest are fed and supported by Bethel Orphanage while residing with their ill-equipped guardians, mostly grand parents and women headed households that are very poor
1. Mission and Purpose of Bethel Orphanage
2. Bethel Orphanage Statement of Faith
3. Bethel Orphanage Community
4. Contact Bethel Orphanage
5. Support Bethel Orphanage
6. Bethel’s Online Resources
7. Online Photo Album Contributors
8. Bethel Orphanage Web-Publisher’s Note