Orphanage Meets Needs by Farming

by Roger Thomas

The Home of Hope, an AMG-sponsored orphanage in Bacolod City, Philippines, is home for 30 boys, 29 girls and a staff of 14 (plus one volunteer accountant). Home of Hope dates back to 1984, when Harold Lovestrand, then director of missions for AMG, visited the area to provide aid following a devastating typhoon. A director at one of the AMG feeding centers in the area asked him how she could provide additional help to some orphans that had come to the center for food. Harold invested his own funds to jump-start the orphanage, and by December, six orphans had been adopted. The next stage saw Home of Hope filling a small building on a small lot in a crowded residential area housing with 16 street children. By 1990, the home was able to move to property outside of town. This property is now a campus of six buildings and lots of space for active children to run and play. It takes three sponsors per child, each giving $25 a month, to meet the operating expenses of this home for children who have no parents, or whose parents have abandoned them. However, there is never a full compliment of sponsors, so there is always a shortfall of money to pay the operating expenses. Rather than complain about the lack of funds, the staff at Home of Hope combined their existing resources with their God-given talents and began a project that has changed their whole outlook on the orphanage's ministry. The single largest expenditure in the Home of Hope budget is for food-60 per cent. Phoebe Mission, one of the staff workers, thought that they could use some of the idle land on the campus to grow some of their own food-if they put in a little work to make the hard, acidic soil productive and if they had start-up money for seeds and animals. So they started by working organic matter into the soil until it was suitable for a garden. Then they planted vegetables-string beans, squash, okra, alogbate (a spinach like plant), upo and patola (gourds) and gabi (taro root)-and put organic fertilizer on the garden. They got a few chickens, and a few goats. They "borrowed" the unused pig pens at Phoebe Mission's home and bought a couple of pigs. They also asked for help and made the need known. Within just six months since the beginning of the farming project, amazing transformations have taken place. The campus of Home of Hope now includes some new buildings to house the farm animals-and the livestock now number 3 cows, 2 carabao, (a domesticated variety of water buffalo), 14 pigs for fattening, 10 sows for breeding, 100 ducks, 3 turkeys, 9 goats, 13 chickens, and 32 chicks. Waste from the pigpens generates biogas, used for cooking (thus saving on propane). Plans are ready for construction of tilapia fish ponds and compost beds for raising earthworms (whose waste will grow plankton to feed the tilapia). God has overwhelmingly chased hunger away from these children! Life for the children at Home of Hope is not just fun and games. They also care for the animals, prepare the garden soil, plant and harvest vegetables, and care for the compound's fruit trees. These are skills that will serve them as adults when they have their own homes and families. Of course, Bible instruction, devotions and learning Christian living habits are also an integral part of their home-life. The Lord has richly blessed Home of Hope for their trust in His provision. Their story serves as a reminder of the fact that all we have comes from Him. We are so apt to complain that we can't obtain what we want, when we should be thanking Him for giving us all that we need. What would our lives be like if we approached our everyday problems like they did at Home of Hope? Editor's Note: If you or your church (or a Sunday school class) would like to take part in this unique ministry, Home of Hope can always use your prayers, your short-term mission teams, your child sponsorships, or your financial gifts to purchase a pig, a goat, a turkey or a fruit tree. Contact Roger Thomas at 1 800 251-7206 or e-mail Roger at rogert@amginternational.org for more information.
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