By Jenny Eaton Dyer, PhD
Last week, the Christian Alliance for Orphans held their annual gathering in Hendersonville, TN at Long Hollow Baptist Church. Some 2,500 participants who work with orphans and vulnerable children gathered to hear excellent speakers and artists. They also attended workshops to enhance their work within their nonprofit or their family, as parents or siblings.
Our Faith-Based Coalition for Healthy Mothers and Children Worldwide members who spoke, performed, or lectured included Jena Nardella, Jars of Clay, Sandra McCracken, Mary Beth Chapman, and Emily Richards. We were excited to see their leadership here.
Hope Through Healing Hands hosted a workshop entitled The Mother & Child Project: How to Prevent the Orphan Crisis. While most workshops were providing instructive guidance on the care of orphans and vulnerable children both at home and around the world, ours focused on the prevention side; that is, how can we stop the orphan crisis before it begins? How can we turn the tide over the next two decades?
If we can join efforts to provide 120 million women around the world with the resources and education they need to better time and space their pregnancies, millions of unintended pregnancies will be averted. And if we can empower these women with the ability to choose when and how many children they have, we can help prevent the orphan crisis.
First, we know that children who have not lost their mothers are 10 times more likely to survive their first year. Combating maternal mortality means combating infant mortality for the orphan. Secondly, keeping mothers healthy and viable means a better chance at keeping the family together, the children healthy and in schools, and the parents at work to build stronger communities. Everyone wins.
We want to enter this dialogue about orphans and vulnerable children to posit the question about the role of healthy timing and spacing of pregnancies as a powerful tool to prevent the orphan crisis. How can we work together?