I was raised in a middle-class household by smart, educated, and caring parents. It was quintessential suburbia throughout much of my life. And I’ve been incredibly privileged for it.
My parents held me when I was sad. They fed me when I was hungry. They clothed me when I was cold. They read to me – building a strong appreciation for language. They encouraged me to go beyond my assumptions and expectations. Without them, I’m unsure where I’d be in life.
Unfortunately, many aren’t afforded these privileges. In fact, more than 26 million children live without parents. What are first smiles, steps, and words without those who matter? The feedback and social interaction that comes from parents and their children is essential to healthy psychological development.
There’s a gap for those who need help most. Many institutionalized orphans struggle to develop at the same rate as their peers. Various developmental factors can be delayed. Some struggle with feelings of abandonment for their entire lives.
Despite being a tragically difficult problem to solve, I spoke to one man who’s looking to change everything: Joshua Becker. Better known for his successful blog, Becoming Minimalist, Joshua is taking a tremendous risk by starting The Hope Effect. The non-profit foundation is dedicated to bettering orphan care, and his plan might just work.
Recently, I had the pleasure of chatting with Joshua about his new foundation. From learning about what the heck motivated him to how he plans to make this a success for generations to come, I wanted to share some of my conversation with him today.
What motivated you to start The Hope Effect?
I asked Joshua why he wanted to work with orphans. He explained that issues of adoption and orphan care have always been important to his family. Joshua’s wife was orphaned in South Dakota, and ultimately adopted by a Nebraskan couple. That process made an imprint on his wife, and thusly, impacted him.
They were moved to give back to this community. The Becker family investigated how to better adoption processes, as they are full of institutional and governmental flaws. The bureaucracy can significantly hinder people’s ability to successfully adopt. With countless of complications, they found out that their time, money, and potential foundation would be better spent on orphan care.
What are some of the current problems in orphan care?
I couldn’t help but wonder what orphanages are like and where care can be improved. Joshua noted that one of the biggest problems is the ratio of caregivers to orphans. There just aren’t enough people to be there for their children. In many households across America, two parents take care of two children; effectively, this makes a 1:1 ratio of caregiver to child. But in orphanages, money is tight and care is often what’s minimally needed.
Over time, this ratio can lead to serious psychological concerns. Whereas many people are held, cared for, and talked to, orphans can suffer from neglect. Joshua acknowledged that problem solving and more advanced intellectually decision making are also held back frequently.
How will The Hope Effect address these systemic problems?
Joshua aims to establish a “highly reproducible model” for orphan care – a blueprint to build homes and create avenues for change. The foundation will pay for the building, maintenance, jobs, and everything else needed to support a home for children.
The Hope Effect will start in Honduras, building a home on the site of the existing La Providencia orphan care community. La Providencia has been implementing a family-based solution to orphan care for several years. They are equipped with staff and even medical and educational facilities, making the partnership very attractive. As Joshua said, “They have a lot to teach us about what works and what doesn’t.”
As an added bonus, La Providencia employs a child psychologist. This is important to Joshua and his team as they appreciate the need for psychological wellness. Because of the great burden placed on these children, The Hope Effect intends to hire a child psychologist at all future orphan care communities they develop.
Briefly, Joshua broke away to explain the standard he wanted to achieve. These homes wouldn’t be more of the same. His bar was set high. Joshua wants his foundation to make homes he could imagine sending his own children – if something unimaginably horrible occurred. He wants every child to have an opportunity to succeed.
How can people help?
It’s all well and good to want to help others, but there are also pragmatic issues that prevent ideas like this from succeeding. Money can be a big problem – without it and this idea evaporates. I wondered how he intended to make this work.
Joshua spoke earnestly about making sizable sums of money from new book advances and his website. He said that money wasn’t the greatest concern for his family – they weren’t looking to buy a bigger house or a new flatscreen TV. Their hope was to put this money to work helping others.
Shockingly, the Becker family is funding the foundation with six figures of their own money. This seed money is intended to kick start fundraising and home building. By May, they hope to have the house built and care offered. It’s an ambitious timeline, but one they’ve researched in depth.
Additionally, The Hope Effect would look for donations to sustain development and maintenance of homes. Their initial investments radically change their charity, too. Remarkably, 100% of donations made to The Hope Effect will be given directly to orphan care. No administrative costs. No marketing fees. Nothing but direct giving to those most in need.
How did you go from minimalism and simple life advocate to philanthropist?
Becoming Minimalist was founded out of a need to cut back on excess. Now, Joshua has been writing about simple living for years, and published books to prove it! As I talked with him, I thought about his transition – from minimalist to philanthropist. How’d he go from one to the other?
Joshua rhetorically asked, “What’s next? What comes after saving money and spending less?” His family has everything they need. With the new income from book deals and constant revenue from the site, he explained that they were eager to do something other than spend it on themselves.
For the Becker family, giving generously goes hand-in-hand with living simply. To save is to ultimately be able to serve and give back. Joshua expounded that they are “committed to not buying,” and that empowers them to think of how to help. For them, it seemed like a natural progression to fund this foundation.
Where can people go to help?
Over the next couple years, Joshua is looking to fundraise hundreds of thousands of dollars and fund multiple projects. He wants to change the paradigm for orphans.
For starters, Joshua recommends checking out The Hope Effect’s website for more information about the charity. Donations will fuel this organization to be able to directly impact the lives of orphaned children.
I was so moved by our conversation that I set up my own fundraising page to support The Hope Effect. Instead of gifts this Christmas, I’ll be asking for your help fundraising $500 by December 31st.
Will you help me?
Donate here to support this incredible cause: https://my.hopeeffect.com/frugaling