by Ronne Rock
Each year, around 50 short-term mission teams travel with Orphan Outreach to serve in Guatemala, Honduras, India, Kenya, Latvia, and Russia. The teams are as diverse as the countries they visit – traditional churches, individuals from across the country, like-minded groups and organizations. All share a similar passion – to care for orphans and vulnerable children. But what purpose does a short-term mission trip truly have when it comes to caring for orphans? Social media feeds are filled with stories of potential harm being done by teams from the United States who pack bags with gifts for orphans in developing countries, and the term “voluntourism” has become a popular one to describe trips in which little sustainable ministry is actually done.
Most volunteers and churches that get involved in orphan care go to bless children with the hope of making a difference in their lives. Understandably, those who serve are rarely thinking, “is what I am seeing best practice in action, is this program in the best interest of the children, where on the continuum of care does this program fit, or is this a program I – or my church - should support?”
Given the opportunity, would you spend tens of thousands of dollars building a high school—with a swimming pool—in a semi-arid, sub-Saharan African village? Well-meaning Westerners did—and years ago, I taught in that school. Every day, I walked past groups of students talking and laughing, with their feet dangling over the edge of the empty pool. A thin layer of rainfall from the wet season had puddled at the bottom, growing thick with algae and mosquitos. And every day, I wondered what on earth those builders had been thinking.
The colored pencils and Crayola markers were piled high.
Imagine your name is Astrid. It’s weighty for a small girl like you. You’re seven, and the name you’ve been given meaning “beautiful goddess” seems far away from working in a dump in Chimaltenango, Guatemala. That’s what your days are made up of; twelve to fourteen hours spent digging through other people’s trash in search of enough something to scavenge that might help your mother bring in a few dollars for the day.
Join Orphan Outreach and other individuals in serving children in Honduras. The team will be serving children and staff at the San Jose Orphanage in La Paz and spending time focusing on spiritual and emotional growth with both the orphanage staff and each other. The team may help with daily tasks around the home as needed and provide Bible curriculum program as well as educational support. The team will also serve La Paz through the NiCo community program. Click here for more details.
Join Orphan Outreach in serving children in Kenya. This team will serve at all three schools that Orphan Outreach partners with, ministering to the students and teachers and visiting the families who have found hope for the future through Christ-centered education. The team will worship and teach, distribute humanitarian aid, and help feed the children and teachers. The trip also includes visits to Nairobi national park, an elephant orphanage and giraffe center. Click here for more details.
Have you ever thought about traveling to India on a mission trip? Hear directly from the trip participants and India Director about why you should go. #orphanoutreach #india #missiontrip