In response to my recent blog, “Zero Child”, Jason Beagle has written to further inform us on the immense trials of such an abandoned child. Jason helps us understand that this is not only a problem in Haiti but also extends to Africa where Jason and Amy lead an incredible work of compassion partnering with CRF in Kitale, Kenya for the very children that I wrote about. You will be moved and motivated when you learn more about this devastating problem from Jason. (If you are unfamiliar with the term “Zero Child,” please read my earlier blog).
I just wanted to say thanks for your post on the Zero child. Zero children can be found in families large or small depending on their circumstances but the results are always tragic. The subjugation and humiliation of the child by those to whom he or she should be closest creates an ambivalence within the child that they don’t know how to process. The guilt felt by those perpetuating the abuse may be suppressed by further humiliating the child to the point of treating them like a second class person or even an animal in an effort to disassociate the treatment of the person as such. They are not a person, they are a thing. The effect upon the zero child is disastrous not only in terms of their physical and psychological health, but perhaps more importantly because of the effect upon their spiritual development. So much of how we view the world and understand God is formed by our experience and the relationships we have. Arguably in third world and developing countries, experiences and relationships may be the primary way people form their worldview since illiteracy is high and access to media is limited. And just what are the psychological effects of being a zero child? Inability to trust, fear of people, low self-esteem or self-hatred, inability to form close relationships of their own later in life are perhaps just a few. The impact is not only felt by the zero child but also by those witnessing the treatment. How can they not wonder, “Am I next?” Just how is it possible for such a person to understand that they have a loving Father God who cares for them and has good plans for them and their life?
As you know, society here in Africa is very communal and much of how people treat each other is governed by that understanding. However, the impact of Western thought with its individualism and post-modernism is definitely increasing especially in urban centers. More and more people look to their own dreams and plans rather than considering the greater good or their responsibility to the community. The impact of that philosophy coupled with the scourge of AIDS upon families is evident as we see many more single mothers and abandoned children. Fathers, even within the church, are becoming a rarity. Extended families are less likely to accept the burden of extra children due to the death of a sister or brother. Children may be orphaned due to disease and then abandoned by their relatives. What happens to these children? They become another class of Zero children. They are twice abandoned- once by their father or mother and once by their relatives. These children become wards of the state and yet the state is unwilling to care for them. They are ultimately assigned to charitable children institutions. They are the children that nobody wanted. And we care for 54 of them.
We care for them and we care about them. Their needs however, go far beyond the physical, and perhaps in recognition of that, the government standards for charitable children institutions here in Kenya are quite high. The high standards are a bit ironic given the fact that the state is unwilling to contribute any resources to their welfare, but it is nonetheless the case. The challenge we have as a children’s home is that we either must meet those standards or be forced to close down. Unfortunately the more we understand about the needs of the children, their histories, and the government regulations, the more problems we are discovering. These challenges include providing minimum wage, vacation time, and government deductions for our staff. We must also employ a social worker full-time and provide counseling for the children, which is understandably sorely needed. We must provide annual medical exams for each child and treat any conditions that he or she has throughout the year. Somehow in the midst of all the challenges and limitations we are trying to show the love of the Father, hoping and praying that the message of love will get through the blockades the enemy has built up.
Jason and Amy Beagle need a lot of financial help to take care of these hurting children. Can you help them? You can send some monthly support or a one-time gift to their ministry thru CRF.–Milt