“When you care for a child, you are not only investing in their present moments by meeting their needs and providing them love and nurturing care, but you are investing in their future moments and future capabilities as well.”
Dr. Natalie Grady
At the beginning of this year, we had the pleasure of welcoming Natalie Grady, a doctoral student studying occupational therapy, as an intern, with the goal of writing a trauma-informed care training curriculum for house parents from an OT perspective. She accompanied us on our trip to Kenya in March and successfully led a group of passionate individuals through the training, equipping them with further knowledge on how to best care for orphaned children in their community. Natalie’s passion for children and parents is inspiring and motivating. We pray you will be encouraged by her words, as she shares her heart for The Boaz Project’s model, and ultimately how God is continuing to transform the lives of the orphans we serve.
In my biased opinion, caring for children is one of the most important jobs in the world. When you care for a child, you are not only investing in their present moments by meeting their needs and providing them love and nurturing care, but you are investing in their future moments and future capabilities as well.
With attachment at the forefront of their minds when helping children who have experienced trauma, The Boaz Project uses a unique model of empowering leaders around the world to care for orphans in their own communities. When considering what a child who has experienced trauma needs, this is exactly it.
This model includes empowering native people to care for native orphans. This is important for many reasons, but the main reason is because it is culturally sensitive and appropriate. When comparing this to Americans going to a foreign land to impose American culture and ways on foreign children, empowering natives is a beautiful and logical model. This provides an opportunity for the caregivers to feel purpose and a way for them to partake in God-honoring ministry in their own community. This lays the groundwork for the child to feel safe and, in order to feel connected to another individual, one must first feel safe.
Next, the model supports a family-style approach to caring for orphans rather than an institutional orphanage or single-child sponsorship model. This is imperative for the healing and success of these children because attachment is imperative. A child with trauma can only heal in the context of a relationship. With a family-style model, you are setting the foundation for attachment to a mother and father, the two primary caregivers. Although attachment is not limited to a mother or father, the family-style model is setting a child up for success in this area by providing two key attachment figures to receive care from. In an orphanage, there is normally a very high child-to-caregiver ratio, making one-on-one moments more sparse and attachment opportunities more limited. Because The Boaz Project supports the family model, the orphaned children will have the opportunity to receive love and care from two safe individuals that they always have access to.
The Boaz Project provides education to caregivers and communities caring for orphans, equipping them to lead and love well. Trauma-informed care is not common knowledge and it requires a lot of grace, patience, and practice. The Boaz Project provides training and support to their in-country partners in a way that makes a caregiver feel able and ready to provide the best care to children who may have never known love before. This element of the model supports trauma-informed care because an uninformed caregiver could cause more harm than good to an orphaned child without even knowing it. Teaching people important information about trauma, attachment, the brain, and so much more will create caregiving that helps the child move towards healing.
The Boaz Project’s approach to caring for orphans supersedes anything a monetary sponsorship or orphanage could ever provide a child. Their approach targets deeper matters, attempting to give a child the opportunity to form a healthy attachment, helping caregivers truly understand trauma, and ultimately promoting healing for a child who has endured hard things.
From an occupational therapist’s standpoint, this is the best model. We understand that a lack of attachment as a result of trauma impacts everything, including the individual’s abilities to do daily tasks or even their capacity for relationship in adulthood. As an OT, I use a holistic viewpoint in order to assess my client, considering all things that may contribute to a problem. The Boaz Project’s model uses this same holistic approach with their model for orphan care. Trauma requires a response and The Boaz Project’s model creates a space where a response can be formed in a safe, loving, educated, and effective way.
Join us in praying for Natalie, as she graduates from her OT program and steps into this next phase of life, that God would use her passion for the vulnerable to impact many hearts with His love.