How often have you asked yourself – or someone else, this question?
What is an orphan?
If you refer to the dictionary, an orphan can be defined very clearly: Noun
1. a child who has lost both parents through death, or, less commonly, one parent. 2. a young animal that has been deserted by or has lost its mother. 3. a person or thing that is without protective affiliation, sponsorship, etc.
If you speak to most people, an orphan is a parentless child, too young and vulnerable to support themselves in the absence of one or both parents. For the more naïve, an orphan might be a distant concept from a work of fiction or a romanticised character from popular culture, akin to Oliver Twist and Annie. If you ask us, these definitions are all wrong.
While the dictionary definition is true from a no-frills matter-of-fact perspective, an orphan is so much more than a parentless child.
An orphan is:
A human being
The media often makes out that orphans are a ‘gimmick’, a ‘symbol’, and lately, a ‘plague’. Before buying into this propaganda, though, remember that first and foremost, these small children are human beings. They have needs. They have feelings. They differ from us only in their geography.
Orphans are a gift. Any child is a gift. A precious, delicate soul knitted together and shared with the world. They are to be treasured and loved, looked after and admired. So think of these children as the ultimate gift, the future; they have survived such hardship and lost everything they hold dear. Yet, here they stand still.
We should be honoured to have any opportunity to help children. Whether through education, pastoral care or indirect aid, it is a privilege to nurture and support them from their earliest days of finding their feet to their finding themselves and their purpose. This is especially the case for those children without parents; they are a chance we otherwise would not have because their parents would offer all the love and guidance they need.
Sponsoring a child is not a flash in the pan payment or a token effort. It is a real investment. It is sacrificing your time or money to help build a future for the youngsters with less than bright prospects. By paying for their education or helping to build shelter and clean water supplies, you invest in their life; their health, their career, their future. And their future is part of a wider picture – they will be the next generation to make a difference, so you are investing in the global landscape, as well as individual ones.
Orphans are the tomorrow. A future that you can turn from bleak to bright with a good heart and kind actions. Theirs is a future they may never have reached if it wasn’t for the support of people in more privileged positions. Theirs is a future that is full of potential. Help them fulfil that potential with Islamic Help.
Instead of dismissing them as a ‘problem’ half the world away, we should be going out of our way to protect and nurture them. They need our help, our guidance, our love – they need to know we still believe in them and their ability to survive and achieve great things and they need to know they have not been forgotten.
That small orphan boy living in a rubble-ruined city might well be the next Mandela, and the young girl caring for her even younger siblings may well have strength and compassion, in such equal measure that she goes on to be an activist and peace-keeper, a leader in education, or a voice for orphans everywhere.
But if we don’t do our best to care for these children, we will never know the greatness they were created to achieve.
So, what is an orphan? An opportunity to make a difference, a light in the world, and a beacon of hope for the future.
Let’s help secure their future, sponsor an orphan today.