Here is why I want to go out of business in 22 years.
Since our founding on Mother’s Day in 2000, the Miracle Foundation has taken a stand for vulnerable children. Today, there are 8 million children living in institutions around the world. That is unacceptable. We know the very best thing for a child is to be part of a loving family—it’s where they thrive. And we believe that with global awareness and collaboration, our ultimate goal of a loving family for every child is fully achievable by 2040.
I just returned from a trip that gave me a new perspective on the best way to achieve this goal. Romania, Rwanda, and Moldova have successfully gotten children into loving families and quit relying on their orphanage systems to care for them.
Their key to success? It’s all about strengthening families and helping them before they are in crisis. The family model is the way to put an end to orphanages around the world. I saw it at work first-hand.
So, where did all the children go? Well, I got to see for myself. 80% of the children that live in institutions have a living relative that can care for them. We’ve seen this ourselves at Miracle Foundation where we’ve already reduced the number of children living in orphanages by 25%. With a small amount of help from the community or government, families can take their kids back.
Other kids were adopted and some went to foster families. Now, I know what you’re thinking, “Foster care is broken in the U.S. How could it work in a developing country?” That’s exactly why we had to go see it for ourselves.
First, children’s organizations in these countries secured the blessing of the government and their governments put programs in place to help families. This is huge because Miracle Foundation has a great track record of working with governments to get initiatives implemented. Next, they did an assessment of where the children were from, in order to figure out where the hotspots (regions) were. They then went to the hotspots and started community programs there. We learned that for every child who is getting services in an orphanage, there are 10 in the hotspot who don’t get any help at all.
For example, if the problem in a hotspot is malnutrition, the community programs there would be classes on how to be a better farmer, how to use the most nutritious grains, or how to become an agricultural entrepreneur. They’d also host potlucks, which were fun and made it OK for a family that was in need to show up. Their goal was to bring families in and teach them—all as volunteers—to come together every week so everyone leaves with a big plate of food, some knowledge, and some community. It’s so unbelievably simple, yet so incredibly effective. Using community programs to help families is what makes the program sustainable and work.
Another important point: They offer no money for foster families. Their motto is “do it out of the kindness of your heart or you don’t do it.” Imagine that—a truly altruistic approach to the problem. It’s amazing how the quality of care improves once money is taken out of the equation. And, the world is full of everyday heroes who want to make a difference.
Surrounding at-risk families with working community programs, government support, and trained social workers on the ground is not only different than our western models… it’s a new approach that is working.
In the end, we were all blown away! This truly gave me hope that our end goal is actually possible. I want every child to have a home. That’s what it’s going to take to go out of business and that’s what all non-profits should be working toward anyway. And I think that with boots on the ground, we can make our goal a reality: No child in an institution in the next 22 years.
As you know, the Miracle Foundation is all about putting the best interests of the child first. We already reunite children with their families whenever possible. And we work with the communities on family-strengthening programs so that single mothers and families living in poverty have the resources they need to keep their children.
Until the day when all children are in a loving family, we will continue to make sure children thrive, wherever they are. In the meantime, cheers to every child with a loving family. And here’s to an early retirement for the Miracle Foundation because every child has a home.
P.S. To help put us out of business, consider becoming a global parent today!