Bob Lupton has an excellent piece on how most orphans in Haiti are in fact children who have been unwillingly abandoned because their parents are without the means to care for them. Yet faith-based "orphanages" market these children as orphans. He concludes:
"There are still many true orphans in Haiti whose parents have died or disappeared. Good orphanages are certainly needed as are good adopting families. The Corrigan’s have adopted two of these orphans themselves.
But something is quite wrong when the prevailing non-profit orphanage system – mostly faith-based – “creates” orphans by mislabeling them and markets them as abandoned, yet does little to correct the underlying problem that forces their parents to give them up. It is a classic case of rightly motivated people rushing in to rescue the perishing, establishing emergency ministries that do in fact save lives, but failing to shift to empowerment strategies as the crisis becomes chronic.
When poverty becomes an industry supported by misinformed donors that enables professional workers to maintain a western lifestyle under the guise of alleviating poverty even as they perpetuate dependency, that industry must be challenged. Shelley and Clay Corrigan are doing just that. And in the most productive, self-sustaining, family-strengthening way."
Amen!!! Pope John Paul II defined poverty as exclusion from networks productivity and exchange. The answer is inclusion. In short, economic development. But understand that if you champion economic development you are going to be outside most the church. Much of the church will will reject you because to them, compassion=relief aid. It is grounded in how it makes you feel with no critical thinking about the collective impact. The progressive wing of the church will mostly ignore you, except to occasionally denounce you in the name of social justice as promoting "neoliberal economics," exploitative global capitalism, and having supplanted God with economics. The poor of the world deserve more from us.