Service Trips are a Part of a Bigger Picture

Whether you’re new to A Child’s Hope or have been helping us lift orphans from surviving to thriving since the very beginning, you may have already heard about our service trips (if not been on one yourself). Have you ever wondered about why we host these trips and what they actually accomplish? There’s a lot more to it than you might think. In order to understand the purpose of service trips, we need to examine the bigger picture. This includes three primary pillars: our Certification Program, Child’s Hope Plans, and our Volunteer Programs.

Certification Program

A Child’s Hope is focused on working with children’s homes that have the leadership needed to provide great results to their kids. The first step in the certification process consists of evaluating the orphanage’s leadership style, quality, and interest in meaningfully helping kids. The next step includes a trial run called an Investigative Project. This allows orphanage directors the chance to work on a small priority project with A Child’s Hope and its existing partners. If both parties are able to create a positive working relationship through that project, the orphanage is offered an official partnership with A Child’s Hope. 

Once an orphanage meets the basic qualifications and signs a commitment that they are willing to put in the work to become “certified”, we measure their capacity across 15 different categories (such as nutrition, education, and financial accountability). We call that measurement the Thrive Assessment, which we adapted from the Miracle Foundation (one of our partners who works with orphanages in India). This assessment is based on the United Nations “Rights of a Child.” By reassessing them every six months, we demonstrate improvements in our partner orphanages. 

Once the gaps in care are discovered, the orphanage directors work with us to create an Orphanage Improvement Roadmap that identifies the steps needed to improve in each area.

The highest priority projects are then packaged into Project Tiles – which can look like purchasing new mattresses for the teen girls’ home, installing a water filtration system, or establishing a medical emergency fund. These Project Tiles are put on our website where donors are able to select and fund them. This is one of the most important things that supporters can do to improve the lives of the children we all serve.

The implementation of the Certification Program helps to strengthen orphanage leadership and provide them with the support and professional development needed to fulfill the needs of their orphanage. Through consistent communication, regular reports, audits, and annual recertification, we can demonstrate that trust is warranted. Our goal is to ensure that the orphanages we partner with are places where donors can be confident that their funds are making a significant difference in children’s lives. Certification means that these homes are providing an environment where children can heal and learn the skills necessary to live successfully as adults and raise families of their own.

Child's Hope Plans

Every child is unique – with different backgrounds, needs, and ambitions. That’s why we collaborate with orphanage leadership to ensure their children can make plans for their futures and gain the skills to get there. These plans are designed with the involvement of the children, their house parents, therapists, mentors, and tutors.

What does each child need to eventually become a happy, healthy adult with the tools and skills necessary to contribute to their community in a meaningful way? Some will be eligible to be adopted into a family. Others may reunite with their families of origin (who have often been removed by the judicial system due to abuse and neglect but are sometimes allowed a second chance). Others may have to stay in the orphanage until adulthood. Sometimes there may even be foster families available to care for them. Whichever route is determined best by their social worker and a judge, children will need to deal with past trauma as they look towards their futures. This healing is made possible, in part, thanks to one of A Child’s Hope’s partners called Espere. Espere connects local, qualified therapists to help individuals heal from trauma. These therapists help children learn how to deal with past physical and emotional abuse, depression, anxiety, abandonment and other mental health challenges. All of this help is made possible by your donations through the Sustain Fund.

However, emotional support is only a part of the solution. Amidst major life changes, these children often fall through the cracks academically, needing to repeat a grade or two.

Not only may they lack the study habits necessary for success, but they can also be significantly older than their respective educational peers, which presents additional social challenges. That is why hiring tutors is so important for these children to catch up academically. Just like the therapists, these tutors are paid for through donations to the Sustain Fund.

Perhaps the most important part of Child’s Hope Plans is the loving security provided by individual caregivers. Whenever possible, married couples are hired to live full-time with a small family of children. This provides a foster family environment and allows children to have dedicated caregivers they know are there to provide guidance and affection to them every day, all while benefiting from the ability to avoid separation from siblings and enjoy economies of scale that an orphanage can provide.

Volunteer Programs

The last element of Child’s Hope Plans is working to connect children with mentors who can expand their visions of their possibilities and provide them additional counsel. While locals are recruited as mentors, there are also Extended Volunteer positions that are available for individuals or couples to go and serve as mentors at these orphanages. Volunteers have more time and opportunities to focus on individual children and build personal and trusted relationships with them. Mentors can teach life skills like shopping, swimming, driving a vehicle, how to get a job, etc. Although orphanage directors do the best they can to be the parental figures these children need, they can’t provide enough time to each child to teach all of these skills. We also recruit individuals to serve as Summer Camp volunteers to help kids make the most of their summers by taking classes in drama, dance, cooking, art, English, or other activities.

Our volunteer program is that final pillar in lifting children from surviving to thriving, as just explained through our Extended Volunteer and Summer Camp programs. Additionally, we also host week-long Service Trips for volunteers to work on facilities in the morning and play with the kids in the afternoons. 

ACHF’s Executive Director, Kent White, said, "I think the greatest service we offer is providing kids a sense of fun and connection since they NEVER get to go on vacation. Construction projects come second in importance to them. Unless we come during their vacations, kids are still in school when we visit. We will work on projects in the mornings when they're at school. After the kids come home and finish their homework, they usually play with us. We're in their lives around three to five hours a day and the children really see us as their fun friends. They just want to play with us and enjoy being kids. Can you imagine if you never got to leave your home and go on a vacation? That's what we bring them. That's the number one service we provide. We hope volunteers will see these kids like their nieces and nephews and provide encouragement and fun, hopefully to return often and build stronger friendships."

As you can see, there’s a lot more that goes on behind the scenes that most volunteers don’t see. 

Although the volunteer service trips are one important part, they are only a small portion of the bigger picture of what A Child’s Hope Foundation aims to accomplish. You are lifting orphans from surviving to thriving when you contribute to the Sustain Fund, adopt a Project Tile, become a Summer Camp or Extended Volunteer, and especially when you share our mission with your friends and family. We are so grateful to call you an Aunt or an Uncle!