“God sets the solitary in families” (Psalm 68:6 NKJV)
By Casibo & Rosimara Dorcelus
The family is considered to be the oldest and most important institution. It is one of the pillars that support society. It is within the family that a child learns to live and interact with others.
The family has its origin in the Creator! Our heavenly Father established the family so that each child could be raised under the responsibility of their parents, whether biological or otherwise.
Unfortunately this is not the case for most of the children on the streets of Senegal! Here street children have been abandoned, neglected and beaten by those who are meant to love and care for them. Most of them are fugitives of the religious system. They are exploited through heavy labor and through the worst kind of work—begging. They are oppressed and subjected to all kinds of terrible treatment and abuse. They have never attended school. These children are obliged to steal in order to survive and are exposed to all kinds of danger. They are vulnerable and headed towards delinquency, with no one to look out for them.
Moved by the harsh reality of these children and persuaded by Proverbs 24:11—“Rescue those being led away to death, hold back those staggering toward slaughter”—we opened the House of Hope in 2001 to look after some of these children. A home in which we could look after them and provide for their needs. It was crucial to restore their dignity and right to live within a family.
We soon realized that providing them with a comfortable house and seeing to their physical needs—such as providing three meals a day, clothing and medical care—were just the first step of a very long journey. The children had much deeper needs than we imagined.
They needed to be reassured that they were loved and accepted, through dialogue and tolerance. They needed a moral and spiritual compass that would help them overcome their mental conflicts and lead them to Jesus.
Their minds were full of confusing and guilty thoughts:
- Do these people really love me in spite of all that I have done?
- Am I worthy of love and attention? Why are they doing it? Why are they so interested?
- Does God really care about me?
We invested a lot of time reassuring the children that God’s love and our love were without conditions. It was important to win their empty hearts so that trust could be established. Once they were convinced that they had been accepted, they became sure of being protected from all threats. They knew we were looking out for them. Then they became willing to start developing.
A child cannot grow up in a balanced way without a healthy connection to an adult. This was a long process, but it was the key that enabled the children to open up to learning about life, discipline, respect, forgiveness, etc., as well as to enjoy learning.
We would ask the children, ”Why did you decide to stay in the House of Hope?” Their answer was: “It is here that we found love and feel part of a family.”
These children are real treasures. They are now doing very well in school. The oldest ones have great potential, are very well behaved and take their studies seriously. God has given them a future and a hope.
The most moving experience has been to see Jesus reveal Himself to the children. And when they understand and accept the love of the heavenly Father, they also become a part of God’s family.