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News : Forgotten Children



Defending 1.2 million Children from Monsters that are real.

Minister Frances Fitzgerald today received over 700 postcards from supporters of Tearfund’s No Child Taken campaign. The campaign highlighted Tearfund’s work in protecting some of the 1.2 million children that are trafficked annually around the world. Tearfund conduct trafficking awareness programmes for extremely poor children, vulnerable to being trafficked, as part of their projects in Cambodia (along the Thai border) and also in Malawi and Haiti. Tearfund partners estimate that about a third of children who are trafficked into Thailand end up in the sex industry. It costs €11 to protect a child from being trafficked, but over €8,000 to rescue and rehabilitate a child who has been trafficked.

Here in Ireland in 2013, 44 victims of trafficking were identified, 16 of these were children. Tearfund is an alliance partner of the Turn off the Red Light Campaign and believes that the best way to fight sex trafficking in Ireland and globally, is to fight the demand that fuels it. Supporters of Tearfund’s No Child Taken campaign completed postcards urging Minister Frances Fitzgerald to urgently introduce legislation that will criminalise the buyers of sex in Ireland, legislation that was recently passed by Stormont in Northern Ireland. Unless similar legislation is introduced here, there is a danger that Ireland will be seen as a low-risk and high profit location for traffickers.

Along with Tearfund supporters, staff and the general public who visited Fingal County Council, South Dublin County Council and Dublin City Council showed their support for Tearfund’s No Child Taken campaign by signing postcards in council offices during October and November marking EU Anti Trafficking Day.

For further information contact Niamh Daly at niamh.daly@tearfund.ie 01 878 3200 and 087 245 1169

Tearfund is a Christian relief and development agency working through a global network of churches to help eradicate poverty and is a member of DOCHAS. Sharan Kelly, Tearfund CEO, is the current Chair of DOCHAS.

Tragedy strikes Peah’s family

Tragedy strikes Peah’s family – 1 Jul 2011

Tragedy has struck the family of Peah, the young boy featured in Tearfund Ireland’s autumn 2008 film (view film here). Over the past few year’s Peah life has been transformed after being fostered into this loving family. Now he has lost his foster father.

In the frantic traffic of Phnom Penh, Cambodia his foster father came off his motorbike on his way to collect Peah from school. He suffered what appeared to be minor injuries and got back on his bike and went home. Later that evening he started vomiting blood. His family rushed him to hospital but tragically he died in the hospital four hours later.

Peah and all his family are in a state of shock and grieving his loss. Tearfund and our local partner Little Conquerors are also sad at the loss of this wonderful man. We will continue to support this family Please pray for the family during this difficult time.

Rescued from the streets

Peah was abandoned on the streets of Phnom Penh, Cambodia when he was only 6 years old. Fortunately Chendai, who works with Tearfund’s partner Little Conquerors found him. We were were able to place him with a loving foster family who raised him as their own son. Little Conqueror’s supports foster families by providing social work assistance, helping to pay school fees and helping the parents establish small business to sustain themselves.

Give to our Forgotten Children Fund today

  • €22 per month can support two children in foster families
  • €86 can pay for school fees and books for four families for one year
  • €125 can pay for a social worker who places children in a foster family

Download a Standing Order Form to give regularly
Give online here

Are orphanages the answer?

Are orphanages the answer? – 25 May 2011

Jessica was abandoned by her parents when she was a few weeks old. She was left to die on a rubbish dump. But, thankfully, her story didn’t end there. Chief Executive Reuben Coulter considers how the church can provide children with a hope and a future.

The challenge of orphanages

  • For every three months that a young child resides in an orphanage, they lose one month of development
  • In Zimbabwe, nearly 40 per cent of children in orphanages have a surviving parent and 60 per cent have a contactable relative. Poverty was cited as the driving reason for abandonment
  • Orphanage care is 10 times more expensive than family-based forms of care
  • In Eastern Europe it was shown that more than 60% of children who graduated from orphanages ended up living on the streets or involved in crime because there was no programme to help them transition to the real world.

Read the Families_Not_Orphanages Report for a detailed analysis.

Note: There are many good orphanages with dedicated staff who are doing their best to provide a safe environment for children who have been orphaned or abandoned. Tearfund does not mean to belittle or diminish their work in any way. However it is a short-term solution to immediate needs and longer-term solutions which are in the child’s best interests are desperately needed. If you are supporting an orphanage then ensure that they are following best practice and that children are not being put at risk.

  • Does the orphanage screen children to ensure that there are not other alternatives for the child? (ie there may be relatives who could raise the child if supported)
  • Does the orphanage endeavor, where possible, to identify foster parents where a child could be placed?
  • Does the orphanage have a ‘leaving plan’ for children who reach adulthood to help them enter the real world?
  • Does an orphanage have good child protection policies in place?
  • Are staff employed by the orphanage vetted?

‘I met Jessica in an orphanage in China when she was four years old. Jessica didn’t smile at me or grab my arm like the other children. She sat silent and alone, avoiding any contact. The staff didn’t know how to help her.

A few months later Jessica was fostered by a young Christian couple who were friends of mine. I wondered how the couple would cope with looking after a child who seemed so emotionally disturbed and withdrawn. That Christmas, I went to visit Jessica and her foster parents. As they welcomed me, a smiling girl rushed up the hallway and hugged my legs. It was Jessica. I couldn’t believe it. In the space of three months she had completely transformed into a vibrant young girl.’

Unsustainable & unsuitable

There are more than 100 million orphans worldwide. The number is growing rapidly, mainly because of AIDS, and there has been a massive rise in the number of orphanages as many organisations, including Christian groups, try to help these children. But are orphanages the answer?

In Ireland, the residential home model has had disastrous consequences for children, despite the fact that we’re a developed country with a social protection system in place and child protection laws.

In developing countries, orphans are potentially much more vulnerable. Many studies have also shown that children can develop physical and psychological abnormalities arising from institutionalism. Children are often abandoned by poor families who feel that they are unable to look after their own child.

In addition the cost of supporting a child in residential care is very expensive. Since orphan numbers continue to grow rapidly and outstrip available resources, residential care is not a viable option for caring for the majority of orphans in the developing world.

Many orphanages, like the one Jessica was in, are extremely well run and have a team of loving staff. However, even the best orphanage cannot replace the loving environment of a family.

So is there a better alternative?

I believe there is. Tearfund works with church partners worldwide to place children in local foster families where they receive the individual love and care that they need.

In Cambodia, our partner Little Conquerors has been able to rescue hundreds of children from the streets of Phnom Penh. Many of the local foster families are extremely poor themselves but, by receiving a low level of support such as help with school fees, they are able to take on an additional child. Little Conquerors’ care workers conduct regular family visits to ensure the child is properly cared for.

Jessica is now 11 years old. Her memories of life in the orphanage are distant. She smiles with joy as she walks hand in hand with her parents .

It’s an incredible example of the local church in action – of Christians welcoming vulnerable children into their home. With 100 million children worldwide in need of a family, it is going to take a determined effort – with all of us working together – to bring lasting transformation.

Please give today.

  • €22 per month can support two children in foster families
  • €86 can pay for school fees and books for four families for one year
  • €125 can pay for a social worker who places children in a foster family

Download a Standing Order Form to give regularly
Give online here

Zimbabwe Appeal - Shadreck age 12

Zimbabwe Appeal - Shadreck age 12 – 1 Jul 2010

Shadreck is just 12 years old, but caring for his sister and elderly grandmother. More than 1.8 million children in Zimbabwe are orphaned. We are making sure they are not forgotten.

Shadreck, age 12, and his sister Primrose, age 10, live in what seems an idyllic spot for children to grow up in.

From their home, there are far-reaching views for miles over the rolling countryside and forested hills. Wild flowers are in bloom, butterflies and birds are in the air and peace pervades this rural part of Zimbabwe.

But life for Shadreck and Primrose is anything but idyllic. Both their parents died from AIDS-related illnesses and the children are now among the poorest of the poor, facing a daily struggle for survival.

No regular income means a lack of food is their biggest problem. They often go hungry.

They live in a small thatched hut which has seen better days as the roof is coming apart and the walls are succumbing to the elements. Inside there is a hole in the ground where they have a fire to cook their food and the only piece of furniture is small table, crowded with plates and pans.

The children have a small patch of land where they have planted a maize crop but lack of rain in January means it is likely to fail, leaving them facing greater hunger.

Their hardship has been compounded by the theft of the few chickens they had.

Only Primrose goes to school. Shadreck had to give up attending in 2008 so he could work to provide for them both.

Shadreck said: ‘Yes, we feel hungry but there’s nothing we can do. If we have some mealy meal (a local type of porridge), in order for us to survive, we eat just once or twice a day. We have been living with hunger since our mother died.’


Although Shadreck is two years older than his sister, she is taller than him, evidence of how lack of food and a poor diet is stunting his growth.

While Primrose gets lunch at school, Shadreck goes without in the middle of his busy day.

The children get up at 6am. Shadreck works either his own or a neighbour’s land until 11am and then spends the rest of the day making two trips to fetch water in a 20kg bucket, walking a kilometre there and back over undulating countryside. After that he might walk up to four kilometres to find firewood.

‘I get very tired,’ he says in a quiet and understated voice. ‘I wish I could go back to school. I also wish I could get enough food and new clothing.’

Primrose rises at 6am too and walks two kilometres to school which starts at 6.45 and finishes at 3pm.

‘I feel pity for my brother. It’s also hard for me to see friends at school who have food when we don’t have enough’ Primrose says quietly.


Recently the children’s 85-year-old grandmother Sehli has been staying with them but she is in poor health. Mother-of-four Sehli has only one surviving son, who is blind, but does support her as best he can from his home in Bulawayo. With failing eyesight and the need for a stick to walk, Sehli relies on Shadreck and Primrose.

‘I have hope that God will protect us,’ says Sehli. ‘Yes the children are surviving but they need more food because they are always going short. Life was better when I was a youngster. I cannot work to help the children. Instead they are the ones working to look after me. It’s frustrating for me. I would like to be able to look after them.’

Both children attend the Agape Missions Pentecostal church, which meets at the local school. Despite their trials, their faith remains intact.

‘God is good and is going to bless us. He has been our protector,’ said Shadreck.

Tearfund’s local church partner, Zoe gives them porridge, mealy meal, sugar beans, cooking oil and maize supplies once a month. Primrose also gets help to pay her school fees.

We have also been able to provide them with some maize seeds. A local church volunteer Sellinah, supported by Tearfund, visits them regularly to offer support and train them in farming. She is teaching them how to dig and plant their own crops.

For years Zimbabwe has lived under the cloud of insecurity and political violence. Hyperinflation meant families did not know from one day to the next if they could put food on the table. A deadly cholera epidemic killed thousands and malnutrition became widespread. And at the same time HIV devastated the country. One child in four – over 1.8 million children – has lost one or both parents. For more information visit BBC to see their short film on Zimbabwe’s Forgotten Children.

You can help give children a hope and a future

In Zimbabwe, Tearfund works through local churches and partners like Zoe. Individual church volunteers mentor individual children and their families, giving them not a ‘hand-out’, but a ‘hand-up’. Your donation will help to fund this work, and provide thousands of vulnerable children and families with the chance of a brighter, self-sufficient future. Give today.

  • €45 will provide agricultural training for five church volunteers. With this training they could then help 120 orphans to farm their own food, giving them the skills and opportunity to build an independent future.
  • €81 will provide orphaned families with seven chickens – providing them with nutritious eggs and food and helping them on the way to self-sufficiency.
  • €119 will provide an entire community of 30 families with seeds from which to plant up to eight different crops, allowing them to diversify their crops so they are less vulnerable if a particular crop fails.
  • €598 will pay to hold workshops to envision and train 60 church leaders – helping them to play a leadership role in their community’s struggles to defeat poverty.

To make a gift today, please give online, call Christine at 01 8783200 or post a cheque to Tearfund Ireland, 5-7 Upper O’Connell St, Dublin 1.

Fundraising – Make a meal of it

Summer, the perfect time for a barbeque – to eat, have fun and raise vital funds for families living in poverty in Zimbabwe. To help you pull together a Make a meal of it event, we have resources for you to download.


‘Lift up your hands to him for the lives of your children, who faint from hunger’ Lamentations 2:19 (NIV)

Let the people of Zimbabwe know they haven’t been forgotten and encourage your church to pray today. To help you we have put together a short powerpoint presentation which you can download here.

An unwanted gift - Christmas Appeal

An unwanted gift - Christmas Appeal – 23 Nov 2009

Happy Christmas! There are two children who I’ve spent time with over the past year. One is my nephew Noah, who has just celebrated his second birthday this week. And the other is Peah –whom I met in Cambodia in February.

Noah couldn’t be more loved or wanted. My sister and brother-in-law have albums of photos of almost his every waking hour! My parents love showing him off to all their friends!

In contrast, Peah had a very different start to life. He was an unwanted gift. There are more than 100 million children around the world without a family, living in the harshest circumstances. But there is hope. Tearfund’s amazing church partners reach children like Peah every day, and place them in loving families.

Can we count on you for a Christmas gift of €32, €86 or €125? Donate here

Help us to support Little Conquerors in Cambodia and IMCAREs in India to continue their work next year. Tearfund’s church partners work tirelessly to address immediate needs, while also dealing with the underlying issues that cause children to be vulnerable, that means our work is sustainable and has a lasting impact.

Little Conquerors, Cambodia – €27,300 to fully fund this project in 2010

The Little Conquerors project helps children with disabilities to reach their God-given potential in all areas of their lives: physically, emotionally, spiritually, educationally and socially. This ensures these children get vital physiotherapy, specialised equipment and access to basic education. Read more about their work here

IMCARES, India – €29,500 to fully fund this project in 2010

IMCares works with local churches to care for vulnerable people, including children orphaned by AIDS, in the poorest slums of Mumbai. They provide food, clothing and education, and search for loving foster families to take in the orphaned children. IMCares also supports AIDS-affected families with counselling, home visits, nutritional support and other material help, and helps teach children in the slums about the reality of HIV and AIDS.Read more about their work here

Bollywood film director and Tearfund partner comes to Ireland

Bollywood film director and Tearfund partner comes to Ireland – 1 Jul 2009

Timothy Gaikwad is an acclaimed film-maker from Mumbai, India. He’s also the Director of Tearfund partner IMCares. He and his wife Sonali spent a week in Ireland sharing with Tearfund supporters across the country about their work with vulnerable children on the streets of Mumbai and the horrifying reality of sex trafficking.

Danny Boyle’s Slumdog Millionaire exposed the world to the experiences of children in the slums of India. ‘The reality is more complex and the solutions must be sustainable. But we are seeing lives transformed as we work with the local church to support vulnerable women and children and address trafficking, poverty’ says acclaimed Indian film-maker and charity manager Timothy Gaikwad, who lives and works with the forgotten children of Mumbai, India.

  • 40,000 children are abducted every year in India
  • 25 % of approximately 2.3 million sex workers in India are minors
  • Almost 2 million children have been orphaned by AIDS in India

God raises the poor from the dust and lifts the needy from the ash heap; he seats them with princes, with the princes of their people. Psalm 113: 7 – 8

Rachel was abandoned by her mother when she was only 6 months old. Her mother was a sex-worker in Mumbai and when the police raided her brothel she ran for her life and left her child behind. IMCares staff found Rachel in a rubbish bin and took her in. She was very sick and was soon diagnosed with AIDS. This was the first time IMCares had encountered a person with AIDS and they were afraid and didn’t know how to help her. Fortunately IMCares was able to receive support from Tearfund and they learnt about how to work with children with AIDS. They were able to influence Indian government policy on providing free anti-retroviral medication for people living with HIV. Today IMCares has been recognised by the UNAIDS as a ‘best-practice’ organisation in the area of HIV support. Rachel is now a vibrant and healthy 20 year old and is graduating from school.

‘We are working with local churches and partners to bring about sustainable solutions.’ says Reuben Coulter, Chief Executive of Tearfund Ireland ‘The work of Timothy and IMCares in vital as address immediate needs but also deal with underlying causes of children’s vulnerability, strengthen local church & community responses and advocate for change in government policies.’

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