Not fighting poverty, but helping the impoverished to create their own prosperity

Four-year-old Jose did his best to protect his 2-year-old brother as their drunken father beat them and their mother again. Later, when found abandoned in a bus depot, the boys talked about burying their mother. Victims of the stresses and effects of poverty, for the next 8 years, they grew up with other children who had similar stories, in an impoverished orphanage in Guadalajara, Mexico. With his anger, is there any question why Jose grew to be referred to as the worst behaving child in the 15 year history of the institution?

Coincidentally, a volunteer, Bob, who had discovered that the best treatment for his depression was to help others in need, began helping at the orphanage every couple of months and fell in love with all 120 children. During his visits, he noticed that Jose took very good care of his little brother – teaching, protecting, playing and helping him at meal time. Bob began to compliment Jose on being such a good teacher, coach and leader for his brother. Over a two-year-period, the boys started to look forward to the next time they would see Bob, and he them.

Rafael, the gentleman who ran the orphanage with his wife Hilda, died and it was closed. Children were put with relatives or sent to other orphanages. At that time, Jose made a life changing decision, took his little brother and moved into the house of their favorite volunteer, who at the time was away on a business trip. He then placed a handwritten sign on the door, Bienvenidos Bob.

Upon Bob’s return, came the initial shock and the question, “Nice to see you, but why are you here?” After learning the situation, conversations with friends and attorneys, Bob began a five-year-adoption process of the two kids who had first adopted him.

The two boys, then growing up in their new home, family and social setting, wanted to visit the friends they had grown up with in the orphanage. When he took them to do that, Bob began to notice a growing gap in socialization between his two sons, now part of a family, and their friends who remained in institutions. After 3 years, Hilda, the lady who with her husband had run the orphanage where Jose got his reputation as a problem child, came to visit the boys. When leaving, she said, “Jose is not the same child I had in the orphanage.”  In that moment, Bob understood, “We must find a way to keep children out of institutions and get those who are there back into families.”  That knowing was the seed that evolved into the nonprofit Our Family Orphan Communities, Inc. (O.F.O.C.).

Since then, extensive needs and wants evaluations and research were accomplished in Mexico and Vietnam. That investigation resulted in a master plan, created by more than 20 architects using additional input from over 800 contributors from 18 countries, and completed by CU College of Architecture. The resulting comprehensive plan is a way to help those who live in the extreme poverty of urban slums to help themselves out of poverty without charity or government subsidies.  They are guided in the creation of food-producing commercial businesses that have jobs, training, wages, bonuses and ownership.  All profits are then used to build out homes, facilities and services that a sustainable community needs, and to help start more communities so more people can work their way out of poverty.

As each of these poverty-free Sustainable Family Communities® is built, you will see more stable families, fewer children ending up in institutions and any families in the communities that want to adopt children out of orphanages are provided support to do so.  O.F.O.C’s joy is seeing children in their prospering families.

The theme for this initiative is, Leading the way out of global poverty™ by helping the impoverished to create Sustainable Family Communities®.   The book about its history and methodology, Poverty as my Teacher – Learning to Create Sustainable Family Communities, is free for your download at: www.ofoc.org/free.

You can participate in helping people to create a better life for themselves one Community at a time. Learn more, volunteer and make a tax-deductible donation to O.F.O.C.  at: www.SustainableFamilyCommunities.org.