A Curriculum for Success
A 9-year-old malnourished girl remains addicted to crack and prostitutes herself to foreigners. A 13-year-old boy chooses a life of drugs and violence in lieu of staying at home to be sexually abused. A 12-year-old girl is placed in an orphanage, returned home, assaulted by mom’s live in boyfriend, and returned to orphan care. These are just a few of the stories behind children worldwide who are placed in full-time institutionalized care as social violence, child abuse and general instability increase across the globe. The need for full care residential facilities, otherwise known as orphanages, is rising globally.
Many of these orphanages push youth into independent living, also known as aging-out, between ages 14 and 16, with caregivers stating that youth at this age can start making their own decisions, can enter the work force or are culturally considered adults. Upon further investigation, it appears emergent and third world orphanages often age out youth due to them being perceived as rebellious, disruptive and a bad influence on younger children. Untrained caregivers are not prepared to deal with the intricacies of youth development. Yet, there is an answer.
- Children and youth placed in institutionalized care have witnessed and often replicate chronic negative patterns that must be modified.
- Through promoting education, positive self-perception, goal setting and church involvement, Operation Phoenix seeks to overcome hopelessness and futility resulting from abandonment and abuse.
To address this problem, Paige Anderson, former Youth Development Coordinator of the Davis Lar Children’s Home in Fortaleza, Brazil, created Operation Phoenix. Operation Phoenix, a ten week/two hour per week intervention, has been modeled after Family Solutions, a multiple family group program for at risk children developed by Dr. William Quinn (2004). Operation Phoenix is intended to directly affect individual, relational (caregiver) and contextual resilience in institutionalized children providing a structure through which these children can succeed as adults. Lessons address anger management, decision-making, goal setting, cooperation, education, and many other areas that encourage healthy development. All lessons are backed by a Biblical foundation.
Operation Phoenix has statistically been proven to improve resilience in youth at the Davis Lar. The final goal is to provide this curriculum to orphanages throughout the emergent and third world.
Responses of children and administration AFTER Operation Phoenix:
- “Operation Phoenix is a tremendous tool for the Davis Lar. It takes the adolescents and youth, helps them focus on who they are and from where they came and where God wants them to go. Operation Phoenix gives them the tools to take God’s “hope and future” plans for them and shows them what is necessary to get there.” -Mark Anderson, former Executive Director, Davis Lar
- “My favorite lesson was on goals, about the future, my plans. I think…I think I am able to have a better life with goals. Because I’ve been raised here at the Lar Davis and I wasn’t thinking anything about what I wanted to be, and if I don’t, I won’t be worth anything.” -Young Man at Lar
- “I learned from the thing that you did with the gum drops…the people that won were…the team with….the older people. Sometimes we think it is stupid when an older person comes and tries to give us counsel…we think this is just an old person’s idea…and after, we were talking that the person who won was older and had more experience. So we learned that they have more to offer to us.”
-Young Lady at Lar
- “[We learned] how to not give up on our dreams…run after our future…understand? (Story of George Dawson as translated by the facilitator.) My studies are the most difficult thing for me. Just my studies are…sometimes I want to give up, but to be someone or something in life we have to go after it because that is what we were taught…to run after what we want. That if we want to study we have to keep after it… Because without studying we will have nothing.” -Young Lady at lar
- “Putting together a program like Operation Phoenix helps us as a community better care for these kids and prepare them to go out into the world and be successful.”
-Penha Oliveira, Social Coordinator, Davis Lar
- Social violence, child exploitation and instability increasing across the globe.
- Need for orphanages increasing worldwide.
- Emergent and third world countries unprepared to address this social need.
- Emergent and third world orphanages age out youth unprepared to thrive in society.
- Youth return to the streets to contribute to social violence, child exploitation and instability across the globe.
“In countries where adoption and foster care are culturally unacceptable and logistically unrealistic, it is possible to create humane social environments for large numbers of children that will foster their emotional well-being and cognitive development, even when material resources are very limited and child development experts are in short supply.” (Wolff and Fesseha, 1998, p. 1323-4).
We, at the Davis Lar, are intentional! In addition to Operation Phoenix, house mom training is ongoing. Child development and care giving techniques are constantly developed and discussed at the Davis Lar.