The Love of Host Families
For the past 36 years Healing the Children (HTC) has created programs and one-time activities to help over 260,000 children and their families, from over 100 countries around the world, with difficult medical conditions hindering their ability to lead productive lives, or in some cases just continuing to live.
We have sponsored and organized numerous outbound medical missions; helped link these children with medical resources in other nearby countries; and in those situations where there are no other viable alternatives we are the sponsoring agency and bring these children into the U.S. for the needed medical interventions in partnering pediatric hospitals across the U.S. The HTC Inbound Program has successfully helped over 7,400 children from developing countries during the past 36 years.
HTC's Inbound Program requires inordinate amounts of planning and coordination among our partnering pediatric hospitals, airlines, medical escorts, international partners, and host families. Each willingly donates their time and financial resources, working together to help these children who otherwise would not get the medical help they urgently require. It does "take a village” to help, and without volunteers of all sorts we could not help these children.
In the 2015 Annual Report of Healing the Children we highlight the immeasurable contributions of love and support made by our volunteer host families. Host families are special people who represent the embodiment of giving of themselves - with no strings attached - to help children from developing countries and act in all ways as a family while these children are in the U.S. for a temporary medical stay.
Children who need to participate in the HTC inbound program are each placed with a host family close to the pediatric hospital who has agreed to accept the child. With rare exceptions, like nursing infants, we usually will only bring the child into the U.S. There are many reasons why this is our time-tested best practice. But entrusting their child to the care of HTC and its inbound program is a sacrifice that parents willingly make even though it is emotionally unsettling for all involved.
This means we need a host family willing and able to take this child into their homes, make them part of their family for the duration of their stay, help shepherd them through our complex healthcare system, take them to all medical appointments, and provide the in home care necessary for a full recovery so they can then be returned to their home country and their waiting families as soon as practical.
Serving as a host family may be the ultimate exercise, and challenge, of human kindness! Over and beyond all of the other activities and challenges that exist within a family, our host families now are willing to help a child they have never previously met, who usually speaks another language if they speak at all, has existing handicaps of all manner, creates another set of needs competing with those of the existing family, and arrives very scared and unsure after exhausting travel usually for the first time on an airplane, in a country far from home, without the only family they have ever known. This host family relationship requires the entire receiving host family to really want to do this and help a child who very much needs their help, and to initially overcome language and cultural barriers for what can be an extended period of months.
Despite all of those apparent obstacles, Healing the Children’s inbound program is very successful because of the families who volunter and are selected to serve as host families. Amazingly, many of our host families sign up to repeat their experience with additional children!
Our 2015 Annual Report features the contributions of host families who open their hearts and homes to sick children far from home. Succinctly put, what they do is human kindness of a personal nature at its very finest!