The fact that Christmas is almost upon us reminds us of the way in which God entered the world: born of the Virgin Mary like all children are born, wrapped in swaddling clothes, cradled in a mother’s arms. Jesus was raised in a loving family.
In every culture and every country, the family is the foundation of society because they protect the wellbeing of children. When the stresses of poverty, drugs, violence, illness or death are placed upon any family, their lives and futures are endangered. Families in crisis put children at risk.
In cases where a child has no family, we build a strong family structure to promote their healthy development and a better future. As their second family, we help children build relationships with their peers through play, empower them by nurturing self-confidence and provide spiritual formation that’s grounded in moral values.
On the front lines of this family environment are the tíos and tías who serve as caregivers to the children making sure that they are well fed, do their chores, get to school, grow up with strong examples to emulate, and provide whatever else a parent passes on to their children in a loving family.
Our tías and tíos provide parental love without the direct ties: “Treat the children as your own!“ says caregiver Elda from NPFS Haiti “Be flexible. Build a great friendship with them and show them that you are not just a caregiver but their family.”
Tía Ramona from NPH Dominican Republic who works with the girls reflects: “My care is based on the needs of each child…I try to get to know each girl, their behaviors, what they like, and what they don’t. I love to share with my girls and support them when they need me.”
Tío Miguel has been a caregiver for so long, he directly sees the impact, and he is part of creating the day-to-day of the family experience provided by the ranch in NPH Honduras. “It’s not direct family, but it creates an equally supportive environment for kids to grow up in. (…) Like a father would, I try to positively influence them through my example. Working hard, encouraging them to study and helping them with their school work. I try my best to teach them different values – respect, responsibility, the importance of work – through both words and my own actions.”
Like Elda, Ramona and Miguel, we have many childcare workers who pay personal attention to our children, and who are focused on our values and Fr. Wasson’s philosophy. While the caregivers can never replace the parents of the pequeñas and pequeños, they provide the stability of family: Thanks to all of them we are family! Thanks to all of them we provide hope for the future.
Christmas Blessings to All Families,
The NPHI Family Service Team