May 22, 2023

An Occupational Therapist’s Perspective

“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.

2 Comments

  1. Svetlana Morton says:

    Thank you Natalie so much for all the hard work you’ve been doing!! How special it is that you not only understand trauma and help others understand it but also help them know the next steps and how to take care of kids with trauma. The Boaz Project is blessed to have you on their team!!

  2. Zandie Brailowsky says:

    This is such a powerful step that The Boaz Project has taken, I am very impressed that they not only care for shelter , education of a child etc, but the children’s needs as a whole. The Boaz Project is opening my eyes to so much more!! Thank you Natalie for what you do!.

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Because God knew that abandoned children would need help to survive, He tells us to actively meet the needs of orphans in James 1:27.

If you also feel the weight of this responsibility and the desire to make a real difference, consider partnering with us. Through our innovative in-home care model, specialized caregiver training, and humanitarian aid, you’ll help children not just survive—but truly thrive.

When you choose to partner with The Boaz Project, you'll restore hope, ensure a brighter future through education, and share the love of Jesus with children who desperately need it.

Just imagine the impact you can have—from saving a child from the horrors of the streets to helping them become community leaders, educators, and nurturers of the next generation.

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What does an orphan mission trip include?

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Orphan Advocate Training Certification Levels

Level 1

Learn about the mission and vision of The Boaz Project through activities such as watching an Encounter webinar, exploring our website, and following us on social media. You will also have the opportunity to meet and interact with your Orphan Advocate Training Coach, who will help you as you go through the levels.


Level 2

Gain more insight into the realities of the orphan crisis through reading "The Orphan’s Abba" and visiting The Boaz Project YouTube page. You will also meet The Boaz Project staff.


Level 3

Grow in your understanding of the orphan crisis, meet some houseparents by reading their stories, and create your own "Pick 2" with options like watching a movie and completing a creative project utilizing your unique skill set.


Level 4

Enhance your knowledge of healthy attachments for orphans, watch a webinar about Eastern Europe’s institutional orphanage system, and visit the Boaz office virtually or in person.


Level 5

Utilize all of the knowledge you have gained throughout training to develop methods based on your personal experience to share the mission and vision of The Boaz Project with others. Read a portion of our first level Houseparent Trauma Training and use your unique skills to impact orphans with a special project. Completing Level 5 gives you the option to apply to become an OAT Coach and/or a Regional Coordinator for The Boaz Project.

FAQ

Do I have to live near Greenwood, Indiana to complete the training?

No! This certification is intentionally created to allow opportunities for anyone in any location to fully participate.




How much of a time commitment is it?

This is completely up to you. The entire process is self-directed. There are no deadlines, and you may take as much or as little time as you need to complete each course.




Can I do this training with my spouse? Or a friend?

Yes! Going through the training with a spouse or friend can provide accountability and motivation. As you progress, you may be able to accomplish more together!




How much will it cost?

All Orphan Advocate Training courses are free to join! While you may choose to spend money while completing some projects, there are only minimal costs involved (such as a book or a few supplies) depending on which course you choose to do.




Is there an age requirement to become a Certified Orphan Advocate Trainee?

This would be answered on a case-by-case basis. This would also be open to middle schoolers or high schoolers looking to complete volunteer hours (i.e. National Honor Society) or build college applications. We always encourage young people to be involved if they feel led by God to do so!




What if I don’t have any social media accounts?

We will adjust your requirements to accommodate you and provide different opportunities to engage.




If I complete the five-level Orphan Advocate Training Certification, can I put it on my resume or LinkedIn profile?

Yes! When you complete each level, you will receive a certification that you can use to enhance your professional profile and to show involvement in community service.




Will I be able to get a signed letter to verify my volunteer hours?

We are sorry that we cannot verify volunteer hours that are done outside of the office or an event due to the fact that these hours are not supervised. However, we can write about the quality of work that was done, your commitment level, and the training courses achieved. We can also say that your self-reported, unsupervised hours fit into the typical number of hours that are usual for that course.




How do I get started?

If you think you would like to begin Orphan Advocate Training, please complete the form below, and you’ll be assigned an OAT Coach. Once your coach reviews your information, he/she will send you an email with your next steps!




Who do I contact if I have any other questions?

Please complete the form below or contact OAT@boazproject.org with any questions.

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