Friday, August 3, 2007

Kidsave - Uniting Orphans with Families

I love it when people share their ideas for LifePrints. The conversations usually start like this, “I read such and such somewhere and thought you might like to use it” or “Have you heard about…?”

Recently I received just such an email from my mother in law, Margaret, about Kidsave, She said, “The children were featured on 11Alive News (that’s in Georgia) a few days ago. Seems like a good program. Wish I could adopt one...probably too old at this point in life."

This was enough to spark my interest. I am a former foster mother and an adoptee, so stories and articles about children in need always tug strongly at my heart. I want to take all of them home and make the hurting stop, even though I know realistically I can’t do that.

After delving into the Kidsave website, I found they have the answer for people like me, Margaret, and countless others who want to help in some way but don’t feel they can adopt. Through Kidsave, we can be host families for six weeks to orphans from Latin America and Russia. Kidsave brings them to the US for their Summer of Miracles Program. A permanent home is the goal. The host family contributes by introducing the child to their circle of friends and community, in hopes of finding that special connection needed for a family or at least a close adult friend who can provide guidance and friendship to the child.

We can also be mentors to American children languishing in foster care by committing to taking a child out for bi-weekly outings, including them in some of our family activities, and just being a stable influence in their lives. We can be financial supporters, helping to raise the funds to bring orphans from all over the world to the US to spend an incredible summer with a host family.

Young Jonathan Gleason expressed his experience with Kidsave this way, “For six weeks during the summer of 2006, from early July through the middle of August, my family and I welcomed two young children into our home from an orphanage in Bogotá, Colombia as a Kidsave International host family. We, especially me, could never have guessed the extent of the positive effect on our lives when an eight year old girl, Maria and her younger brother, Juan Carlos, age 4, stepped forward to greet us at the Atlanta airport.”

He continued in his letter, “At first I was kind of skeptical because I had no idea what it was going to be like. I have been a younger sibling all my life, and all of the sudden I would have to become the older brother to two kids who I didn’t know, for six weeks. Well those six weeks turned out to be the best six weeks of my life. Every day that the kids were here was full of fun, fascination, and learning for me. These children could embrace joy in spite of their past. The little girl was honestly the best friend I could ever have. All day I would play with her and it would be as if I had known her my whole life, and her brother was just the funniest kid ever! That kid, if he knew something was wrong, would find anyway to get a smile on your face and make you laugh. These kids did not just touch our family’s life, but many of my friends and my parents’ friends too. Friends would invite themselves over, not to spend time with us but to be with the kids.”

“One of my friends even started to cry the last time he saw the kids. One of my favorite memories was whenever the music video of Shakira’s song came on; my new amigos would dance and sing their heads off. Another thing these kids loved was the pool. Both of them learned how to swim while they were here. Everyday they would swim for hours, and whenever you would try to take them out they would say, “5 more minutes….5 more minutes….5 more minutes”, until finally you would have to drag them out of the pool.”

“Don’t get me started on church with the four year old. Let’s just say all of the priests and parishioners knew him by the end of the six week period and not because he misbehaved! Another favorite pastime for the kids was eating. They loved trying all of the new foods they had never seen or tried before. Shopping at Target was an eye opening experience for both of them. However, the most amazing experience was watching these two kids when they stepped on to the beach and saw the ocean for the first time. I wish that I had taken a picture, but the expression of awe on their faces will remain with me forever. I could go on and on,” Jonathan gushed.

I’d intended to paraphrase his statement but changed my mind. Johnathan aptly expresses what happens when one person does something for the good of another. Somewhere along the way, they realize they are benefiting, too, maybe even more so that the one they set out to help. The purpose of Johnathan’s letter was to raise $60,000 to bring children to his home town this summer. I’m not sure if he reached his goal but I do know that right now there are children in Atlanta, Georgia enjoying the company of selfless families like the Gleasons.

Thank you, Margaret for passing on this important story of international caring and cooperation.


NeoAuteur said...

Selfless indeed! Keep us up to date with meaningful news like this.

Lisa McGlaun said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Lisa McGlaun said...

I will, Neoauteur. I'm enjoying doing the work for this blog. It makes my day better when I take the time to research the posts.

La delirante said...

I was involved in a children's program in my country and it is really something amazing when you see a smile in a child's face.

The children didn't have the money to go to school or eat enough but the program provided them with the above.

Thanks for sharing your thoughts and the website.

Lisa McGlaun said...

Thanks Wen for sharing your experience. In cases like that, a smile is worth everything.