La Providencia has the following fundamental characteristics:
Academically-based, rather than agricultural or trade
Rather than simply training the children in the industry or trade prevalent in the local community, La Providencia provides its children with a classical, liberal arts education. In addition to the traditional subjects, they will learn Spanish and English and, if they so choose, a musical instrument in preparation for a college education or trade consistent with their gifts.
Providence’s research has shown that a preventive model can offer the children much more from an education perspective. Children, on average, will enter our program by age three, and thus will be able to get all necessary tools (e.g., proper nutrition, stable family, proper medical care) to make an academic model reasonable and suitable.
Staffed by nationals, not foreigners
With the exception of English teachers, all of our missionary staff at La Providencia, short (>1 year) and long term (1-3 years), will have the express purpose to identify, train, pray with, and be replaced by local professional Honduran nationals in their particular areas of expertise. Currently, our entire La Providencia staff, except for our Academy’s English teachers, are Honduran nationals. All of the workers on site at La Providencia have been chosen for their skill level as well as their character and desire to serve God. Ultimately, it is much more likely that the community and staff will own the project and become self-sustaining if the project is run by peers from their own community and culture.
Providence’s research has shown that a preventive model can offer the children much more from an education perspective. Children, on average, will enter our program by age two, and thus will be able to get all necessary tools (e.g., proper nutrition, stable family, proper medical care) to make an academic model reasonable and suitable.
Development and renewal, not relief
Our work strives for long-term, paradigm-shifting changes in lives and societies through orphans being developed into leaders. We seek to do this through comprehensive care that fills not only the children’s material needs, but also their deep social, spiritual, and psychological needs. We seek not only to feed, clothe, and shelter them, but to give them hope, community, self-respect, power, and voice in their respective societies. We seek to raise them up to be thriving, productive members of their communities who are not dependent on handouts or other aid from outsiders.
Stewardship rather than sustainability
Providence believes that stewardship of its resources should be the primary focus of any organization. That is why 100% of all directed funds go to the area specified by the donor, all general funds are used for Providence’s greatest need at the time, and all of Providence’s U.S. salaries are raised and administered separately.
Family-based, rather than an institutional setting
La Providencia places the orphans into family homes with a set of parents and seven siblings, where they truly become a family for the entirety of the children’s lives. The children will also “inherit” a grandmother (from the widows’ home when it is built), aunts, uncles, and cousins.
All orphanage models are located somewhere on the spectrum between an institution and an adoptive family. La Providencia locates itself on the family end of the spectrum, by placing the children in permanent family homes. We realize that this approach requires more resources and will thus mean that we will take fewer orphans than if we used an institutional setting. We intentionally sacrifice quantity for quality, because we believe that it is in the best interests of the children we are able to take. In particular, the family model substantially increases the chance that the children will become societal leaders without character disorders and other ills common to children without permanent, stable families.
La Providencia will eventually have at least 12 homes for the children, in addition to a medical center (completed), an elementary school, a high school, a dining hall/multi-purpose facility (completed), a widows’ home, an administrative building, a soccer complex, a lake, a coffee farm, and all necessary infrastructure.
Of the 20 elderly widows that will be chosen to live on site once the widows’ home is built, 12 of them will be assigned to the orphan homes as a “grandmothers.” They will fulfill the loving, nurturing role of grandmother to all eight orphans in their home.
Dissemination of information, not hoarding
Providence seeks to share information about its model and other orphan care research with the orphan care community around the world. Providence currently partners with several colleges, universities, and other orphan care organizations to improve orphan and widow care throughout the world through the best practice framework at La Providencia. Providence also seeks to share information with the orphan care community around the world. It believes that the parts are stronger only when more of the whole is equally well-informed and collaborating with each other.
Prevention rather than intervention
At La Providencia, we emphasize prevention (caring for the orphans before they are abused or otherwise scarred by the world), rather than intervention (caring for the orphans after taking them off the streets or out of other negative situations).
There are a number of models to help orphans. The majority of them are necessary and have something very valuable to offer. We believe that we are more able to develop the children’s God-given gifts and talents, and develop them into leaders if we reach them early and build a network of family relationships into their lives, rather than begin with children that have already been hardened by the streets. We therefore bring the orphans and at-risk community children into the orphanage as early as possible (between age 0 and 5) and immediately begin caring for them.
Importantly, we are not saying that ministries emphasizing the rescue and rehabilitation of older orphans or street children are wrong or in any way lacking; we are simply saying that our focus is different.
Deep and lasting relationships
Providence’s vision is that the children, in addition to their family group, will experience the providence of the Lord through the unconditional support and care of an extended family. Other than the grandmother, aunts, uncles, and cousins, such support will come from people all over the world who want to build relationships with the La Providencia children through mission trips and our Family Partnership Program program.
Medical care for the community and other orphans
La Providencia’s medical center will not only provide care for the 192 children at La Providencia, but will care for children in the local community and hopefully will eventually act as a HMO for all of the other orphans in the state of Comayagua, Honduras (the state in which La Providencia is located). Currently, orphans throughout Comayagua are receiving little or no adequate health care.
The house parents are arguably the most crucial part of our model. These Honduran, Christian, married couples will raise these children as their own. They must complete an intense interview process before we will allow them to have their own home of children. One of the two parents in each home will hold jobs in the community or at La Providencia, and they will have the freedom to function as an individual family. Within reason, they will choose which activities they want to attend, what church they want to attend, and how basic household duties are managed.
Uncles, Aunts, & Cousins
All of the workers on site will have the opportunity to receive a few of the children as their nieces or nephews. This in turn would make their wives aunts and their children cousins to the orphans.
Providence continues to advocate for open domestic and international adoption in Honduras and throughout the world. We worked with AWAA (www.awaa.org) to open Honduras to international adoption and AWAA is currently working with families to adopt Honduran children.