With summer coming to a close and our interns slowly leaving Tanzania and returning to the states, we wanted to ask our interns a few questions about their time here. Edith was serving with us in Moshi for two months and led in forming our child protection policy and practices as well as working with communities where Kingdom Families is engaged. Here is a little bit of insight into Edith’s time here, the ways the Lord moved, and how her heart has been changed.
What do you feel like God taught you during your summer internship?
God used the many wonderful experiences provided during this internship to remind me of His two most important commandments: to love him, and to love our neighbors. Practically, loving God means obeying Him. Loving other people means advocating on their behalf when necessary, and it also means learning to show grace, even when it’s needed over and over and over; that’s what God does for us! I have found that when I focus on these two commandments, the smaller details of life flow much more smoothly.
What have you learned about family-based orphan care?
Prior to this summer, I thought family-based orphan care was centered around foster care and adoption. While that is partially true, I was not seeing the big picture. Children often end up in institutions because of poverty, sickness in the family, or lack of social services. Kingdom Families puts a lot of effort into family preservation by connecting families with various resources found in the local community. This strengthens the family unit, and prevents children from being placed into a more vulnerable situation. Also, since so many children in orphanages still have parents or other relatives, family reunification with periodic follow-up is a significant part of family-based care. There are many elements to the overall strategy, and I am grateful to have been able to observe them firsthand.
What is something you learned about Tanzanian culture during your time here?
We were able to visit and serve in many churches this summer. I learned that for Tanzanian Christians, church is an all-day event. In some rural areas, people walk for hours just to attend. They are not motivated by coffee, pamphlets, or fancy worship bands. These people attend church to enthusiastically praise God and to hear the Scripture with open hearts and, as long as it is still Sunday, they are not concerned with much else. It was an honor to worship the Lord with them, and I was encouraged by the depth of their faith.
What are some challenges you faced during your time here?
My time in Moshi was amazing, but I certainly faced challenges. I felt (and still feel) a lot of frustration with Westerners, especially Christians, who support the orphanage system in developing nations. Sometimes we decide to “help” others in ways that make us feel good, without taking a closer look at what is really needed by the people in question. This can be driven by ignorance, pride, or other ulterior motives. I have had to keep reminding myself that we all have blind spots, and that the Lord cannot use me to speak the truth in love unless I have an attitude of humility. Another challenge I faced was having bed bugs in my hostel sleeping bag during a weekend trip to Arusha. But that could happen anywhere.
How do you feel like God is calling you to respond after your summer spent interning with Kingdom Families?
I feel God calling me to respond to all of this new knowledge by continuing to advocate for the real needs of vulnerable communities and families. This will mean intentionally engaging in conversations about institutional care vs. family-based care, encouraging the people in my life to find trustworthy organizations through which to sponsor vulnerable children, and searching for ways to serve needy families in my own community.