For more than a decade, between 2004 and 2015, Kingwood, Texas, served as CERI’s hometown and headquarters. The people of Kingwood and the greater Houston-area community have wholeheartedly supported the cause of helping the vulnerable children in Europe, and orphans around the globe. Every year, CERI friends, child sponsors, mission trip participants, CERI staff and advocates gather to share a meal and talk about CERI’s work around the world.
In May, a group of 60 supporters gathered at The Clubs of Kingwood to enjoy brunch, music by Micah Kersh and a message from CERI’s Executive Director, Connie Belciug. Belciug spoke about CERI’s mission to care for the orphans around the world who have been institutionalized, how children are the most vulnerable populations to human trafficking and how CERI exists to help those who face brutal living conditions and severe poverty. She reaffirmed CERI’s commitment to excellence:
“God wants the best for the orphans and the vulnerable. God sets the lonely in families (Psalm 68:6). The best possible way to care for an orphan and vulnerable child is in his/her family. When the biological family is not an option, a kinship, foster or adoption solution should be considered. Decades of research found that orphanage care has a long-lasting negative effect on the healthy development of children. Family-based care is the best we can offer to orphans and vulnerable children. Family-based care is the fair, the just, and the correct way to care for children. And this is exactly what CERI stands for.”
Belciug also called for a reconceptualization and a new definition for the word “orphan”:
“God looks at things in context. If a father dies – a child becomes fatherless, a wife becomes a widow and their family unit becomes poor, weak and many times, under oppression (economic or social oppression). Now, add another layer of vulnerability over them, imagine that they are foreigners and speak a different language. A new definition of orphanhood has to take this complexity of life into consideration… A new definition of orphanhood has to include all children who suffer, who are abused, exploited, lonely… It has to include all the children who are separated from what is justly theirs – care, love, family, safety, dignity, opportunity… Let’s change our mindset and language to embrace this new definition of orphanhood. Because a definition drives the way we act, the way to conduct programming, the way we write policies and the way we conduct research. Definitions drive action.”
This year’s event benefitted CERI’s work in India, where, through local partnerships, capacity building and advocacy, CERI aims to shift the country’s child protection system from one that views institutionalization as a primary means to protect children, to a family-based and community-based approach to caring for the orphaned and vulnerable. Thank you to everyone who attended this event and to those who continue to support CERI’s mission.
Kingwood and the greater Houston area have been the backbone of CERI since 2004, bringing together resources and energy to serve God’s purposes in the lives of thousands of children around the world. CERI remains committed to the Kingwood community; our dedicated staff of Dr. Dearing Garner, CERI Ambassador Emeritus, and Diana Bass, CERI Project Manager, continue to further the mission of CERI and embody its presence in their home community, our hometown of Kingwood, Texas. Together we will continue to make a difference in the world.