Heather Radu: A Caring Heart
With its numbers fluctuating from 35 to 40 children, Dorie’s Promise is about a third of its size since Guatemala halted international adoptions in late 2007. Previously the home housed as many as 135 children while offering a birthing program, counseling, medical care for unwed mothers, and several Bible studies. Though scaled back, founder Heather Radu says the orphanage is still making a difference in the lives of children she set out to help in 2000.
“I like where we’re at right now,” says the president of Forever Changed International. “We’re taking care of 40 children and doing it well. Our team has jelled and our mission program is at its peak, so this is a great time, too. Having lived in Guatemala for four years and having seen firsthand the plight of children when they’re not given the opportunity to live in a great orphanage—it’s really awful.”
After attending a one-year Bible study program, Heather gained her experience in orphan care via on-the-job training. First involved in operating an orphanage in Romania, after two years there she moved to Bulgaria. Later, a ministry expansion sent her to Guatemala, where she learned the circumstances facing children were even worse. While she found social care lacking in Eastern Europe, she labeled it “non-existent” in the Central American country. While in Romania and Bulgaria many poor people had a home in the village, in Guatemala Heather found impoverished residents in dire circumstances, including those who call home a garbage dump.
Since Guatemala offers no support to private orphanages, fund raising is one of Heather’s primary challenges. What keeps her going is the thought of children who would otherwise go to bed suffering the stings of abuse, hunger, and homelessness. Heather’s passion comes from remembering that she has to do her best to find sufficient donations to keep a roof over children’s head, food in their stomachs, and people caring for them.
“When you’re involved in this kind of ministry and see all the pain and suffering, it makes you realize that God gave you the life you have so that you can be healthy enough to be able to give back,” Heather says. “If I had been in a situation like the people I help…well, you can’t really help people when you’re suffering yourself. It makes me aware of how fortunate I was to have been born in the United States and not into extreme poverty. It makes me want to be able to use the resources I have, intellectually and financially, to be able to help people.”