Liberty for Orphans Club Holds Awareness Meeting

Liberty for Orphans, a newly-funded Liberty University Student Government Association club, hosted a meeting to raise awareness of the orphan crisis in Guatemala Wednesday, April 4 in the Jerry Falwell Library Scholars Conference Room.

Vice President Shannon Cherian, a biomedical sciences student, presented the information on orphans of Guatemala, following club announcements to an audience of about 10. Cherian shared that Guatemala used to be one of the most popular countries for international adoption.

Cherian said that many children were orphaned because of the Guatemalan Civil War, which raged from 1960-1996 and caused adoption rates to skyrocket. However, according to NPR, international adoptions ceased in 2008 due to corruption. The United Nations Children’s Fund estimates that there are currently more than 350,000 orphans in Guatemala.

Cherian defined the purpose of the club when she shared the solution to Guatemala’s orphan crisis.

“The answer to the prayer of orphans is the local church,” Cherian said.

Liberty for Orphans holds regular meetings at the beginning of each month, hosts club activities and encourages volunteerism in the Lynchburg community, all with the intentions of raising awareness of the global orphan crisis and serving foster and adoptive families in the Lynchburg-area.

“Our main reason is to bring awareness to what is going on in the world and foster a heart of compassion because I think that seeing what’s going on and hearing about it helps me and everyone else understand it more and realize that it is not just a statistic,” President Kristina Kroemer said. “It’s something real that’s happening to kids around the world.”

At each meeting, Cherian shares a presentation on the orphan crisis in a country or region. So far, she has spoken about the orphan crisis in the United States and Guatemala and has given an overview of the worldwide orphan crisis. Since the club started receiving funding this semester, club leaders hope to bring ethnic foods from the countries they discuss at each meeting.

“Through this club, one of the biggest things is … supporting people who are caring for orphans,” Kroemer said.  “As someone from a family who’s adopted, there are ways that the church could be stepping up more.”

To meet this need, the club partners with Mosaic, Brentwood Church’s foster and adoptive family ministry. The ministry hosts date nights for foster and adoptive parents, and members of Liberty for Orphans work with church volunteers to take care of the children so that parents can have a relaxing, fun evening together.

“(Caring for families) is something that I want our club to be doing as a branch of Liberty, which is a Christian school,” Kroemer said. “So, sort of an extension of the church to be supporting people not just when they first adopted, but years down the road and just obeying God’s command to care for orphans. And that doesn’t just stop when they’re legally adopted because there are still struggles.”

With the club being relatively new — becoming an SGA club in spring 2017 and receiving funding this semester — Kroemer said they are still looking for organizations in the Lynchburg area to partner with.

“It’s been hard finding places around here, and it’s hard to get connected, since everything is confidential,” Kroemer said. “So, we’re still looking for places (to volunteer).”

Ideally, Kroemer said that the club would like to have more babysitting opportunities and offer tutoring and other services that are feasible for college students. Cherian said that praying is also a simple yet powerful way to help.

To keep up with Liberty for Orphans, follow the club on Instagram @liberty_for_orphans. For questions about the club or membership, email Kristina Kroemer at kdkroemer@liberty.edu.

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