A year ago Tehila were invited to attend an event led by an inspiring US organisation called Bethany Christian Services (www.bethany.org). The purpose of the event was to share the importance of family care for vulnerable children, rather than institutional care. It was an incredible event to be part of….so many Zambian leaders becoming passionate about ending orphanage care in Zambia. At this event around 60 families stepped forward to become foster carers and Embrace Project Zambia was launched.
Since then, Embrace has become a determined grass roots led movement of church leaders advocating for foster care and adoption in Zambia. I have the privilege of being the Secretary on the Embrace Action Committee and have watched this small movement gain size, momentum and influence over the last year. Despite challenges, around 30 families have now been successfully assessed as foster carers and 13 children have been removed from institutions and placed in loving families! In addition, Embrace has been asked to train leaders in surounding countries such as Congo, Namibia and Zimbabwe in order to spread foster care to other African nations!
Embrace speaks and mobilises people within churches and recruits potential foster carers. The Embrace social workers are working with government social welfare officers around practice issues such as developing foster care guidelines, carrying out assessment and training of foster carers. Seven strategically placed church leaders are also on board (The Big Seven, as we have named them) and they have a key advocacy role influencing high level government.
Foster care is not an alien concept to Zambians as extended family and kinship care has always and still is, ingrained in their culture. Institutional care is a contradiction to their traditional view of a family care. Hence, foster care is hugely welcome and the response has been incredible.
Coming from a family who fostered over forty children during my own childhood, I am passionate to see this movement spread across Zambia and other nations in Africa. Personal experiences have also motivated others on the Embrace committee. Bishop M mixes with government officials in Zambia and other African countries and has been instrumental in pushing the message forward and making things happen. As a child, he was abandoned outside a hospital as a newborn and has no memories of his biological parents. A nurse found him and he was adopted and raised in another family. His position in Zambian society and his passion for foster care and adoption are critical in this movement. Bishop M and his wife have also been approved as foster carers and are currently bonding with two girls who are in an orphanage close to where we live. Inspirational.
Embrace is an important part of protecting children in Zambia. Children can be rescued from violence, abuse and neglect and be looked after in families where they have the most chance of thriving and being all that God intended them to be.
Join us in any way you can to support this vital work in protecting children in Zambia.
Love Han xx