On Orphan Sunday, November 8th, churches and congregations across the United States and the world will join in prayer and support for the world’s more than 150 million orphans – defined by the UN as children who have lost one or both parents – a number that includes the estimated 8 million children growing up in orphanages and other residential institutions.
The Orphan Sunday campaign is led by the Christian Alliance for Orphans (CAFO), a “US coalition of organizations and churches committed to the Gospel and the orphan,” according to its web site. CAFO includes more than 100 organizations, and their members hold thousands of Orphan Sunday events worldwide each year.
To mark Orphan Sunday, Lumos, an international nonprofit organization founded by author J.K. Rowling, is highlighting that the majority of the 8 million children living in institutions are not in fact orphans. These children have been separated from their parents and placed in institutions as the result of extreme poverty, disability, conflict, disaster, or discrimination – and a lack of basic services to support vulnerable children and families.
To give voice to its campaign, Lumos has released audio excerpts from an animated filmnarrated by J.K. Rowling. Her words deliver an impassioned plea to help safely return all the world’s infants, children and youth who have been separated from family back to loving family care:
“Faith-based organizations have historically played and continue to play an important role in the provision of care and support to the poor and the vulnerable. Churches and other faith-based initiatives are often the first – and best placed – to identify and respond to children and families in need. Faith-based communities serve as the boots on the ground as well as the source of funding and other support for vulnerable children and families” said Gillian Huebner, Lumos US Director of Policy and Advocacy
“But more than 80 years of research has shown that children raised in institutional care, such as orphanages, do not get the same love and close adult attention as children in families, are significantly more vulnerable to abuse, neglect, lack of stimulation, and toxic stress, and are at great risk of harm to their physical, emotional, and intellectual development,” she added.
“Orphan Sunday activities not only reflect the genuine compassion and concern for children living outside of family care, but are also an opportunity to highlight why all children need and deserve to grow up within a family”
Lumos commends all who are working during this Orphan Sunday and throughout the year to help preserve families, prevent parent-child separation, and ensure that all children enjoy their right to a family life.