For the past three decades, I’ve had the privilege of working in social services, choosing to devote my time and energy to make a difference in this world. Because I am in and around information everyday about the hard realities and crises faced by many children and families around the world, I have to remind myself that others are not so often reminded of the need. Without that daily confrontation of these critical needs, it can be easy to take for granted how fortunate we are as others struggle to survive, lacking access to and money for essentials like food, medicine, clean water or even clothing.
Unless you’ve witnessed such heartbreak in person, it’s difficult to fully appreciate the poverty and hopelessness these children and families face each and every day. While many of us are stressed about the economy and worried about mortgage payments, college tuition, etc., there are children and families in Haiti, China and Ethiopia, among others, worried about having food on their table for dinner tonight so that their children can eat…many are concerned with how they will survive today - there is no thought of tomorrow for these families.
Part of what Bethany does to show the need and the results of partners’ help, is to capture video and pictures when we are in country with these families and children. We realize that no video can replace the impact of standing steps away from an orphaned child with Cerebral Palsy living in a hospital in China because the country’s culture has deemed the child as unadoptable because of his condition, but we hope that they will help show the reality of the situation and open the eyes of others to the plight of many vulnerable children around the world. Josh Franer, a professional film director, works with Bethany to help share the stories of these children. Josh recently shared why he does this and the impact filming these videos has had on him – personally and professionally:
“I was in a remote village in Haiti, visiting a school and I saw a child standing there, totally naked. It was one of those moments. I wanted to take the clothes off my back and give them to him. When I got back to the U.S., I bought clothes to donate to the entire village because I had to take action. During a trip to Africa, we visited a number of families living in varying states of poverty. One family built their house illegally next to a river, so I decided to buy them a house. On top of making donations to help families in need, I see that God has put me in a place and given me my talents for a reason. It’s my responsibility to use my camera lens to tell stories and help show other people’s needs. It’s not really about how it makes me feel. It’s about what God is saying to me…about carrying out what God is telling me to do.”
My heart aches to share these children and families’ stories with everyone who can help – and we can all help in some way. I’m always grateful to hear someone tell me that they were moved to support a village, a family or a child as a result of having heard a story or watched one of these videos. I’m just as grateful to hear the commitment and passion of our partners, like Josh, who use their professional capacity to go and serve - helping to make a difference in the lives of those who so desperately need help. I believe that we all have a part to play in changing the story for these most vulnerable.
I hope all readers of this blog will have an opportunity to travel overseas and spend time volunteering to support communities in crisis. It is an eye-opening experience that will benefit you as much as those you are there to support. You will have a far greater appreciation for what God has blessed you with and I’m confident that it will inspire you to play a greater role in supporting ongoing efforts to create sustainable child welfare initiatives in developing nations.