Our speaker on Wednesday 19 November was Dan Ward from the charity Hope and Homes For Children.
Dan began by telling us a true story. A young woman, cradling her tiny baby boy, was sitting on a pavement and was close to despair. She eventually put her baby into an ordinary carrier bag and left the bag in a doorway with a scribbled note. In the note, she explained that she had no money and no means of supporting her baby. The note included the baby’s name and date of birth. She asked that these should not be changed, and that she hoped someone who can, will care for him.
A little later, the baby ends up in an “orphanage”. Although he is cared for, as best as they can, he is just one more child in an over-crowded orphanage where there is no time for actual love. Children have to grow up far too soon in order to cope with life in the orphanage. Hope and Homes for Children have found that many of these children – there are an estimated eight million in orphanages like this – get to the age of three without starting to walk or talk. They have also found many older children who are underweight and socially withdrawn. Many more have medical conditions that are not treated, and the children are kept in unsanitary and unclean conditions. The single reason for the lack of development is the absence of the support and love that can be found in normal families.
It is the aim of Hope and Homes for Children to close such orphanages. They strive to take the children from the orphanages and place them with members of the child’s own family, where they can enjoy the benefit of a two-parent family, sometimes with siblings or with cousins. When their own family are unable to take them, the orphans are placed with foster families, so that the children can receive the love they have never known, and resume their development.
Romania, Bulgaria and Rwanda have now committed to end these “orphanages”. Hope and Homes for Children work hard in those communities to strengthen vulnerable families and improve the lives of children everywhere. This was a very interesting talk given by Dan. Indeed, our club was the first talk that Dan had given and we showed our appreciation in the usual way and with many questions from the Club members.