I'm loving these lively discussions!
Since the topic of 'solving the orphan crisis' is coming to the surface over and over in the comments, I think it's important to define a few terms. Russ made the comment that "orphan care is a band-aid...the only real solution is beating the sources that cause orphans like extreme poverty and preventable disease."
The predominant strategy for eliminating poverty and preventable disease has been foreign aid. The West has spent 2.3 trillion dollars over the last 5 decades of foreign aid, but we still have not managed to get 12 cent medicines to children to prevent malaria deaths, or get $4 bed nets to poor families, or $3 medicines to new mothers to prevent 5 million child deaths. Why? Something should tell us that's the wrong approach.
In my experience of hundreds of trips overseas, I have seen entire communities transformed because of orphan care. I have seen kids who had no hope for survival not just exist, but thrive. I have seen young girls living safe and going to university instead of becoming prostitutes.
Foreign aid is a top down approach which ignores the power of individuals (like Hanna from Addis Ababa and her network of foster care homes for orphans in Ethiopia) to provide bottom up solutions. My friend Lyston calls these people "creatures of invention." They are the women like Gugu from Swaziland who asked the 13-year-old prostitutes in her community what they needed to escape the sex trade. They answered simply, "A school." The next day, Gugu started a community school under a tree for these girls (Gugu's carepoint is not sponsored yet...call me if you're interested in getting involved here). They are pastors like Walter from Swaziland. God told Walter to "look in his own pocket" for the resources to help orphans in his community. So, he stopped paying for his own kids to go to school so that he could feed 500 orphans using the help of widowed grandmothers to cook and serve.
Walter, Gugu, and Hanna teach us about what true orphan care is. Orphan care is not a sponsorship program. It's not a feeding line, a mission trip, or a humanitarian project. It's holistic care that meets the needs of what a child would receive if they were in a family, ie, medical care, education, food, clothing, shelter, love, etc. That eliminates issues like extreme poverty and preventable disease.
I wouldn't call that a band-aid.
True orphan care gets people involved in communities, releases compassion in a way that makes a real difference, and helps to solve the bigger issues behind the orphan problem. I believe we can do this by helping communities (churches, companies, and organizations) take responsibility for communities in poor countries filled with orphans. Everybody, every church, every business, can "adopt" a Walter, or Gugu, or Hanna. The results transform children of the lowest state in their societies into men and women of great dignity and compassion. This happens when we roll up our sleeves, and get behind the work that is already being done to eliminate the orphan problem by these great men and women. The West does not bring the answers. We can bring the money and the compassion to keep this work growing and expanding. It's what Children's HopeChest does. Our goal? Engage 12,000 communities in the US and Europe to sponsor 12,000 communities, reaching 1,000,000 orphans. If you reach 1,000,000 orphans, you've just empowered an entire generation to reach itself. The 1,000,000 will reach the 150,000,000.