Words bring life or death. From the voices of all who surround us, we learn who we are!

I was raised in a children’s home and later adopted by a family. Growing up, I remember some would make comments about me being an orphan. Sadly, it's all too common especially among people in public, social, and religious sectors to refer to children like me with labels and other harmful terms. As a result, the idea that I was abandoned, rejected, powerless, helpless were the narratives that took hold in my heart and mind. I was a child. I wasn’t choosing to speak these narratives to myself. They were the stories about myself told to me and to others by the people around me and the circumstances around me.

The danger of these narratives we believe about ourselves is that we act from those narratives, we make life choices, we see ourselves in relationship to others and our world through the lens of the stories we’ve believed about ourselves. I think we all can understand that right? How many times have we let our insecurities control our actions at work, in our families or our friendships? Those choices from shame and powerlessness can lead into further abuse and trauma even in adulthood.

For a child that faces barriers to safety and care, those stories take over. A child’s worldview is established by the time they are 2 years of age. What they believe about life, death, and their place in the world. Children that need a home like Hope House are here because their environment is unsafe. They may establish narratives about their place in the world by the way they see their mother treated, by the way they themselves are abused, or by the crucial needs that go unmet.

Giving hope is more than just about making sure that they are fed and educated and sheltered (all crucial needs that need to be met). Giving hope is even more so about unraveling the trauma-imprinted narratives established in their subconscious and guiding them to discover their true identity of being loved, honored, valued, and strong.

Our first step is to change ourselves. We are intentionally changing the language we use so that we affirm the value of our children instead of their lack or helplessness. Won’t you join us? As a partner in giving hope, how will you change the way you perceive Hope House’s children? Here are a few alternatives we’ve come up with. You’ll start seeing them in all of our messaging:

Needy: Children who are denied access to protective support and care.
Homeless: Houseless
Orphaned: Children without parents or families with barriers to offer care.
Uneducated: Children who are denied access to quality education.
Underprivileged:    Under-served, under-supported or systematically disadvantaged by society.

It may take a little more ink to type out or a few more seconds to say but we think it’s worth it. The honor and value we can impart is priceless. Using language that focuses on circumstances instead of the identity of a person leads to ideas about how we can overcome barriers. The person is not the problem. The circumstances are. And, together, we can change those circumstances.

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