What Makes Horizon Different
What sets Horizon apart from many other organizations that care for orphaned and vulnerable children? Our focus on sustainability? Our Micro Community model? Perhaps the most impactful, distinct element of our model is the Inheritance Program. It is essentially our commitment to support Horizon children into adulthood. The children who end up at the micro communities have had their rights violated, often lacking access to education and other rights essential to their thriving. At Horizon, we commit to rescue, restore, and empower orphaned children to independence. In most cases, that means supporting them beyond the age of 18, when most traditional institutions would send them back to the streets and situations they originally came from. So many orphaned children, often need extra time and support to succeed and flourish. For the tias and house parents that care for them, they have agreed to be there for the children as long as they need it—just like any parent would. Once a Horizon child, always a Horizon child.
A Celebration of a New Era and Inheritance
At the Guatemalan community, Casa de Esperanza, we recently celebrated a milestone in the life of Jorge. As his 18th birthday approached, the micro community directors began the process of planning his transition to independent adult life. This process began with a meeting with Jorge to reassure him that with Horizon, he will not “age-out,” that we are his family and are here to support him for the long haul. The effect was noticeable, the relief palpable. He expressed excitement about the plan to provide him with an apartment in the micro community, and eagerness to learn the skills he will need to transition to adult life.
The onsite social worker has created a transition plan that includes tiered support and training for Jorge in all aspects of his development: life skills, financial, social, physical, academic, professional, and spiritual. Because he lacked formal education for much of his life prior to arriving at the micro community, Jorge will need to continue his studies for several more years. He is receiving assistance with creating a resume, and will be interviewed for work in the micro community. He is receiving assistance with getting his national ID, opening a bank account, and having a personal budget. After meeting with everyone to discuss his goals, the process, and the people who will be supporting him, Jorge said “I feel good that all these people will be there to help me along the way.” Support with these small details now, and goals for things like learning how to drive and take public transportation add up to a big effect, a young man empowered to face the challenges that life presents.
There is an element of our Inheritance Program that we consider its pinnacle feature—the benchmark of success: that our children become advocates for Horizon who give back to their community, that they embody our value of symbiosis. In the plan that Jorge completed with the support of the social worker, he expressed a noble goal: to become both a sponsor and mentor to children in the micro community. “I want to be there to help children in the home, just like others have helped me,” said Jorge While he has a long road ahead, he understands the end goal and feels empowered to accomplish through the continued support of his Horizon family.
Written by Jeff Luehm, Latin American Program Coordinator. The name of the young adult has been changed for his protection.