Monday, May 6, 2013

What does my Public Relations Writing Class have to do with Orphans?

My current class is called PR Writing. I love it. So it may be no surprise that I am also doing well and getting positive feedback in the class. At the start of the class we were asked to choose an imaginary small business or non-profit to write all our pieces about.

I had my friend Alemnesh's orphan home in mind. It seemed the perfect thing. She left in April to begin laying the ground work for her home in Addis Ababa. Hopefully when she does get closer to getting the whole thing off the ground I will be able to tweak the items I've written to use in a number of ways.

Since I have been steeped in Ethiopian orphan facts, media coverage of orphan issues and general orphan statistics, I am far more aware of the pitfalls of adoption. One article I read highlighted a particular family that first promoted adoption from Liberia, then adopted several children from Liberia, and finally had failures with some of their adopted kids. It was definitely written to paint Christians in an unfavorable light. The story was bad and sad. The article's author was also on a NPR show recently. She told other horrific stories of failed adoptions and heavily insinuates that Christians are driving the market for adoption needs. In other words, if Christians didn't have the “fever” to adopt, there wouldn't be so many orphans in the world.

When I lived in Kenya in the 90s I learned that Kenyans call children orphaned if even one parent is lost. They will refer to a child who has lost both parents as a double orphan. I have since noticed that this may actually be the prevailing way developing countries all talk about children missing one or both parents. Certainly this gap in understanding skews the numbers we find on the Internet about how many orphans there are in the world. However, I don't think there is a need to say any group is bad if they are trying to promote care for vulnerable children. I do not think that we are driving a market for orphans.

My heart is wrenched thinking about hundreds, even millions of children without a mama to care for and love on them. During my adolescent years I often said out loud to my mom, “I would not have survived today without you!” I meant it. My mom was strong for me in ways I knew I couldn't be as a child. It all comes to mind with Mother's Day around the corner and so many stories swirling around in my head.

I hope that you have good memories of your mother this weekend. But I also hope that you will think about those without a mother. The amount of “double orphans” in the world today is about 3,500,000 – the size of the entire Minneapolis/St. Paul metropolitan area.

Think of them, pray for them, be grateful for what you had or have. If you want to know more about my friend, Alemnesh's ministry, leave a comment or drop me an email.

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