Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Book review: Urban Halo

I recently finished reading a book about orphan care: Urban Halo (free here for now; that's how I got it). It was very good, refreshing, with some new-ish ideas for me. Of course, I read it through a Ukraine-Russia filter, and it actually fits into that pretty well. Sometimes I have trouble reading what is written from a global perspective about orphan care and adoption, because it just doesn't apply here much at all. This book does, though, at least mostly. There are some differences. Ukraine's orphans aren't mostly from AIDS; we don't have quite the same community structure, although strong community is a foundation of society here.

Overall, though, the message was community care for orphans, which could be adapted for here. The information the author collected and presented about the problems of an orphanage system is all very valid. These themes are very current for Ukraine, too. There's new legislation that will close orphanages... eventually. Even before that came into effect, the goal was to work them out of business. Children belong in families, of course, and when they don't have their own immediate families, extended family or other community is best for them. I enjoyed reading how they're doing that in Cambodia, and I could imagine ways that similar models could work here.

Also, there's the theme in this book of missions as living life with people. "Incarnational" seems like a big name for a small thing, but maybe that touches the edge of it. That's very important for us personally, too. We haven't ever moved into a slum, like the missionaries in Cambodia were doing, but Ukraine doesn't exactly have slums like that. We do live just regular life and try to get as involved as we can in our neighbourhood and local community. To quote from the book, "the old-school missions dichotomy of 'home' and 'field' will be meaningless because the field is right where they live." Yes. And this book has a lot to say about that lifestyle.

Back to the subject of orphan care, for another quote:
"Children already living in orphanages and children's homes must not be ignored or forgotten. Neither do these institutions need to be abandoned. But a radical re-orientation will be required to transform them in community-focussed centres for orphan and family support. This deinstitutionalisation process cannot happen overnight, but should proceed in stages...."
(That's where Ukraine and Agape and we personally are are now.)

I do recommend getting and reading this book, at least right now, while the price is just right.

1 comment:

Mom said...

I've read only the first chapter, but the book is dynamic and refreshingly well written. Looking forward to reading more....