What's worse than losing your job in the recession?
Being an orphan in a third world country
In 2008, UNICEF reported that there are an estimated 132 million orphans in the world. Most of us feel compassion for these children, but how can we make a difference?
My freshman year in college, I volunteered at Bellewood Home in Lexington, Ky-- an emergency home for abused, at risk, and homeless youth in Kentucky. I'm not sure if anything has ever touched my heart quite like Michael, the young boy who befriended me that day, did. Michael and I really connected when I first arrived, and throughout the rest of the day he was by my side, holding my hand. I could tell he was starved for affection. At the end of the day, we were winding down our activities playing Bingo and Michael crawled up into my lap. His big brown eyes looked at me and he said 'Kara, I wish you were my mom.' I remember promising to myself that for the rest of my life, I would try to help children like Michael find hope and opportunities.
The first step in helping another is to first identify a need, and sometimes this is the hardest part! We do have shelters and orphanages in America (another great place I have worked at was the Monarch School in San Diego- its a school for homeless children and does amazing things in their lives), but I also feel a desire to help children outside of the United States. Without government help like we have here, their needs feel even more desperate and more pronounced. The AIDS epidemic has claimed so many parents in Africa, leaving children without parents or homes.
I recently went to an informational meeting for a mission trip to Niger through my church, Living Hope, in Bowling Green. The trip would focus more on evangelism in Niger than helping orphans, but it is a worthy cause as well. However, there aren't very many spots for the trip so I may not get to go... If I don't get to go on this trip, I'm going to try to go through another organization. If anyone who reads this can recommend a good organization or has experience with this, please let me know! I'd love to hear your stories.
In the meantime, I really encourage everyone to find a way to make a difference with something they are passionate about. If you're looking for a way to help orphans in the state of Kentucky, the Bellewood home is an amazing place to start. Go to www.bellewood.org and click on 'Make a Gift'- you can help through volunteering your time, monetary donations, or helping
with their wish list. Good luck!