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Aug 15, 2014

Recently, there has been much discussion about the influx of unaccompanied minors from Central America to The United States. The majority of these children have fled their home country to avoid being the victims of organized crime violence, including human trafficking—risking their lives and traveling hundreds or thousands of miles in deplorable and unsafe conditions. At Bethany Christian Services, our mission is to demonstrate the love and compassion of Jesus Christ by protecting and enhancing the lives of children through quality social services. As the discourse on unaccompanied minors continues, we’re planning to share stories in this space about the struggles these children face and the impact opening our hearts and homes to them can have on their lives. I’m sure that you will be touched by these stories and will see the critical need for supporting these vulnerable children.

On the run, fleeing a war that destroyed his home and killed his entire family, Joseph* was one of thousands caught in the middle of the civil war in the African nation of Congo. Only fifteen years old and entirely on his own, he escaped to neighboring Kenya, eventually landing in a U.N. refugee camp where he faced new enemies: malnutrition, disease, and the staggering reality that you could be “warehoused” there for years.

After two years in Kenya, the United Nations granted Joseph refugee status and with support from individuals and organizations, resettled in the United States. The quiet 18-year-old with a ready smile dreams of completing the high-school education interrupted by his escape and subsequent years in the refugee camp. He would like to continue his education and become a nurse, but knows the odds are against him, largely due to the expense. Although his resettlement program through Bethany will soon place him into an entry-level job, he worries that he won’t have time to study, let alone have any money left over after paying for rent, transportation, and medical bills. Yet he remains optimistic.

“I know I will make it, I just have to work hard.”

Joseph knows he might not have survived without the generosity of others. And he knows that as he continues his journey in the United States, other children all over the world are caught in the middle of violence and oppression.

“Some people don’t know the people they are helping,” he says of those who contributed to his resettlement. “But I would tell them to continue to help. Continue to support refugees because they are innocent. I have been there. I know how things are.”

Listen to Bethany Christian Services’ Every Child podcast for more on issues relative to vulnerable children. From adoption and foster care to the introduction of sustainable social services in developing countries, Every Child features an informative discussion, led by Bethany’s President/CEO Bill Blacquiere, with leading voices from ministries and nonprofit organizations, as well as Christian authors and artists.

Bethany Christian Services is a leading global family preservation and child welfare agency.