This is a common question we receive on a monthly basis, whether it be a speaking engagement or e-mail, so we decided to let long-time supporter and team member Haley answer this:
I can still remember the feeling, like a needle hitting the edge of a balloon. I was fresh off of a plane from Liberia, thoughts, and ideas swirling through my head about what we could do to help more. I was one motivated chick. So here I am, this innocent balloon, and then boom, the needle.
I was sitting in a restaurant peacefully eating my meal with my family, and the question comes from an acquaintance I probably see twice a year. A lovely stranger, might I add. “I just don’t understand why you spend so much money to get on a plane and go help thousands of miles away when we have so many needy children right here.”
Liberia went through a very brutal and bloody second Civil War from 1999-2003. Whenever a war takes place, the number of orphaned children is bound to increase. At the time Orphan Aid Liberia got started in 2008, there were about 300,000 children in Liberia.
I’ll be honest and say that I’m human, and a little rage fled through my body. I don’t have biological children, but let me tell you, I can all of the sudden become Momma-bear for these kids. However, I understood her question, and I saw where she was coming from. My own parents had posed the same question to be years ago when trying to deter me from hopping on a plane to Liberia. People don’t usually mean harm when asking this question, they just genuinely want to know the answer.
So, here’s my answer:
I promise I have seen both sides of the coin. I have been to Liberia 4 times. I saw the poverty, the hunger, the big bellies and the overflowing orphanages. I have pried a little girl out of my arms as I explained that she couldn’t get in the car and go home with me.
I have also been a case worker for the Department of Family and Children Services. I have been in the prostitute’s home, the drug addict’s home. I had seen tears roll down little faces when I explained to them that they couldn’t go home with Mommy today.
In both of these situations, I have had lumps in my throat and tears stinging my eyes. Both of these scenarios are hard and broken and upsetting. How can you say one is worse than the other? I know people can go round and round discussing which scenario is worse and why you should choose one to help over the other, but since you’re reading this, I’ll tell you my opinion. I think we’re wasting our time. Pain is pain; brokenness is brokenness; and kids are kids, no matter what side of the globe they are on. Help, where you feel, called. If you are intrigued by Liberia and want to serve, we would be honored to have you. But if you think God is calling you to be a foster parent in the States, we believe that’s where you should be! No calling is better than the other. So instead of fighting about where we should all be serving, let’s get out there and serve! Liberia, The United States, China, in your neighborhood—wherever it might be, the world could use a little more light. And we believe you have it!