Our main goal is to build and maintain Christian children’s villages for orphans in different parts of the world. L’ESPERANCE regives the orphans the security of the family and the small village community and creates favorable conditions for them to develop personally and independently. This is done through an integrated holistic education. It takes place in the family group and in the community structure of the village, in a Christian school that belongs to the children’s village and is maintained by L’ESPERANCE, and in a practical training that runs parallel to the school lessons in all branches of work that belong to the village. The goal is to develop “heart, head and hand” of the young people equally.
It is not enough for us to provide orphans a roof over their heads. Children need love and affection in order to develop harmoniously. It is also a special concern of ours that human dignity is preserved in our helping by keeping dependencies as small as possible. L’ESPERANCE children’s villages are therefore designed as capacitiy building projects. The choice of location is of crucial importance. After the start-up phase, the village should be able to earn its own living through various branches of production simultaneously meant to be training enterprises.
L’ESPERANCE does not see child welfare as an isolated area. Everything that happens has an impact on creation. We see the practical demonstration of these connections as an important educational measure for the children entrusted to us. At the same time we want to set a positive example for the environment of our children’s villages. We would like to act as multipliers. In the so-called Third World, a L’ESPERANCE children’s village therefore includes a reforestation program, erosion control measures, organic horticulture with mixed cultures as far as possible, as well as organic field cultivation with crop rotations of leguminous plants, beekeeping, careful cultivation of the land with the extensive renunciation of motorized equipment, improvement of the soil quality through mulching, composting and animal husbandry in stables. Animal dung should not be used as fuel.
As there is usually a high level of unemployment in developing countries, we deliberately work without motor power to a large extent. The land is tilled with animals as far as possible, many transport tasks are carried out with donkeys, and no machines are used in construction work. As much as possible is done by muscle power. Through this labor-intensive way of doing business, for example in the oldest L’ESPERANCE children’s village Akaki in Ethiopia, between 500 and 600 people currently live directly from this relatively small project. More than 50 employees have found work and bread there with their families. Another advantage of the working method adapted to the country situation is a reduction in procurement difficulties, which can be very great in the case of mechanization due to the lack of skilled workers, workshops and spare parts.
In most Third World countries, oil and coal are expensive energy sources to import, and wood is only available in limited quantities. L’ESPERANCE therefore examines the possibility of using alternative energy sources such as solar, wind and biogas in every case. In the building program, home-made adobe dry bricks (clay straw bricks), other earthen construction methods and natural stones are being considered as an alternative to energy-intensive hollow bricks. This is also intended to demonstrate how to save wood by avoiding conventional construction methods. We report on the implementation of this program in information letters, country-specific leaflets, through slide shows, lectures, conferences and through the Children’s Village calendars.