Community Transformation Centers: A New Model for Hope Worldwide
By Jenny Pope
Sometimes the needs are immediate. Children are removed from their home or found wandering the streets – they need a safe place to live; a warm meal; someone who cares.
But sometimes, the needs are unseen – too far in the future to know what’s ahead. But like the first winds of a storm, you know they’re coming.
[caption id="attachment_1640" align="alignright" width="250" caption="Children in Bantu, Ethiopia receive a quality education and fresh meal each day at the Buckner-operated school and community center."][/caption]
Buckner is seeking to meet these needs through strategic preventative programs worldwide. The community transformation center, similar to community centers in the United States, is a central hub where children and families can receive social services, food, education, job training and build lasting relationships.
“When we’re talking about helping children, we’re always going to be in support of keeping children in their families and homes,” said Randy Daniels, vice president of international operations at Buckner.
"A community transformation center is designed to do this by preventing families from breaking up in the first place; by providing education opportunities for parents so they can support their children; by teaching about healthy ways to care for your family; and by educating children so they can have opportunities for a better future."
Daniels said Buckner is currently operating community centers in Jocotenango, Guatemala; Busia and Nairobi, Kenya; and Collique, Peru.
They are starting a new program in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia and raising support for new centers in El Salam, Egypt; Los Pinos and Mixco, Guatemala; Bungoma, Kenya; Las Brisas, Honduras; and Chorrillos, Peru.
"Job training has got to be a part of every community center to have any lasting transformation for families," Daniels said. Many children living in orphanages worldwide are social orphans, children whose parents are too poverty-stricken to care for them any longer.
"We’re not going to stop working with orphanages," he emphasized. "But we are going to start looking for more strategic opportunities to make an impact.
“When you’re working with an orphanage, you’re helping 100 kids. But when you’re working in a community program. you’re working with the whole community. You have the potential to transform thousands of kids’ lives and their families. And that’s what we’re all about.”
[caption id="attachment_1650" align="alignleft" width="250" caption="Older teenagers and young adults learn new job skills, like plumbing, at the job training center in Nazaret, Ethiopia."][/caption]
Daniels added that program services are the foundation for the center, but spiritual development plays a huge role. Most community centers are paired with a local church, or even offer church services at the center.
“We’ve got to reach out for them to meet people’s physical needs first. This gives us relational capital and helps establish our commitment to caring about them,” he said. “Once this has happened, spiritual development can really take place. We couldn’t really call these transformation centers without God’s help.”
To help support Buckner’s efforts with community transformation centers internationally, please contact Buckner Foundation at 214-758-8050 or click here to make a donation today.