“One of the ways we partner with these mamas is through our vulnerable women’s training program at Restore Elikia. At risk women of all ages participate in training classes for several hours a day, three times a week for an entire year. We focus a lot on how they can keep themselves and their children healthy through basic hygiene measures, family planning with spacing of children to allow for appropriate length of breastfeeding before weaning, and how to maximize nutrition and diversify diet with limited resources…”
“One day as I walked through the maternity ward at the local hospital, it dawned on me. Young women were dying in labor every day, orphaning not just their newborns but their other children as well. One in five women were dying. One in five. Day after day. I stopped right there in my tracks.. beyond overwhelmed. We had to try and do something to change this or the orphan crisis would never end. But what?? It seemed bigger and harder and more complicated than I could even begin to try and get my head around…”
“When she was one-year-old, Redhet had no idea that her mom, Fikirte, had placed her on a government list as a “half orphan.” In Ethiopia, a half orphan is a child who has no support or contact with one parent and no chance of reconciliation. By placing a child on the “half orphan” list, the mother recognizes she may not be able to continue feeding or providing care for her child. Half orphans are not uncommon in Kore, with many children being taken to government orphanages on a weekly basis. Redhet’s name was on the list as a last resort for Fikirte.”
“For me, a man named Kenneth has been a pivotal person in my life. However, that did not happen by chance. Rather, he was influenced by pivotal people in his life and the seeds that they sewed have blessed mine. Kenneth was born and raised in Cameroon, Africa. At the age of five, Kenneth had big dreams…”
Since the crisis broke out in Syria we’ve been following the reports and asking ourselves, “How can we help? What are the practical ways that we can respond?” When we look throughout history we see it is not changed by those who accept the world as it is. Who resign an issue to “that’s not my problem.” History is written by those who let themselves be consumed with empathy for others and let love motivate them to create change. It’s love that will motivate us to go far beyond where comfort could take us.
Over the next couple of months, we are thrilled to share the incredible stories of individuals and organizations who are working in the trenches to put an end to this crisis at the source. Their work is liberating millions of future families and children from vulnerability.
What are these dubious causes? One of the biggest culprits is poverty. In fact, poverty is the number one cause of the orphan crisis…"
We had the opportunity to sit down with the founder of Foster Village Austin, Chrystal Smith, and learn about the amazing work they are doing to come alongside foster families, emergency placements and birth families. While we were with Chrystal we learned so much about the wonderful things that Foster Village is doing.
Chrsytal Smith created Foster Village with one thought in mind—to give the foster community in Austin a village of support, of people who get it, of people who are present. Now, two years later, Foster Village has become a haven for both children and adults, a space where you can feel loved, supported, and most importantly, seen. With a background in child development and experience in teaching parent-education courses, Smith uses her skills to teach, encourage, and walk alongside foster parents in their journey.
“We first adopted Elijah, our very first placement who came to us at eight months old. His biological brother Mattais was our next child we adopted who we had brought home from the hospital as a newborn. The surprise call for baby Liam came a few years later, also a newborn from the hospital. We will tell anyone that the love we have for these boys is as if they had come from our own DNA and no less than that. We are now joyfully raising our tribe of three wild, wonderful boys who are now 6, 8 and 10…”
If every child aging out of foster care THIS year had a home, we'd have a societal saving of $6.5 billion in the United States! For every youth that ages out of foster care and enters a world of homelessness, poverty, unemployment or the criminal justice system, the community loses an engaged and contributing member to society. Instead, society gains a lonely adult often in need of continued, expensive public support. Studies show there's an estimated savings of $235,000 in total public benefits, including child welfare and human services costs, per child for every child that is adopted before aging out of foster care.
We saw the need and we knew that we had the desire and the means to meet it. Our passion is to equip kids to create a life for themselves that is different than what they are going through right now. We want to do so much more than “house kids in need”, we want to invest in them and then teach them how to invest in those around them.
I’m Sarah Wilson and I’m a CASA advocate. CASA stands for Court Appointed Special Advocate. I first got involved in CASA in 2014 while still an undergraduate student at the University of Iowa. I have always loved working with children, which is why I decided to study speech pathology. While working with children with special needs, I felt like I wanted to do more and that I had more to give. However, because I was a student, I felt like my options, as well as, my time, were a bit more limited in how I could reach out to help children in crisis. I had always thought about possibly becoming a foster parent and after doing some research, I found the CASA program and I knew immediately that it was the opportunity I was searching for!