Creating a sense of belonging

Last time on the blog, we started looking at Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. We considered how homelessness affects Jamaica’s children, when they’re born into environments in which poverty and struggle replace security and stability.
When we look at the diagram, we can see how basic needs of physical safety form the foundation for any person’s self-actualization. As people, our ideal is to live fully, using our gifts and abilities to build lives we love.

But for kids who are born into environments where basic needs aren’t met, exploration and growth are very difficult. It’s hard to build a better life out of a constant struggle with uncertainty. This is how cycles of poverty and homelessness often get perpetuated from one generation to the next.

Now let’s consider what happens when kids do get to experience a home environment where core needs are satisfied. This takes us up from the bottom tiers of Maslow’s pyramid to the top three.

Kids in stable homes have a chance to feel the comfort of having people they love around them. Think back to when you were little, and how exciting it was when family and friends came over to celebrate a holiday or a birthday. At Christmas at my grandparents’ house, when the family all sat around the dining room table to share roast turkey and stuffing, I remember how safe and happy I felt. The world was a hundred percent secure. That kind of experience has a lasting impact on a young child.

Another aspect of home for kids is the chance to take pride in a place that belongs to them. Sure, when we were growing up, our parents had a big say in what our rooms looked like. But we had our decorations, our posters, maybe the rug and curtains we picked out, maybe a plant on the windowsill. Remember how it felt to have your room, where you could go to read a favorite book or snuggle with a stuffed animal? If you were like me, your room was your anchor, a safe and welcoming spot whatever happened in the outside world.

All of these pieces – physical safety, the satisfaction of togetherness, and pride and a sense of ownership in a home – all of them together get us up to the top tier in the pyramid. This is where, in an environment that feels secure, and with a solid foundation under them, kids can grow fully as people. They can develop their interests and use their imaginations. When they have a chance to become the people they want to be, they can shape the world around them.

We at Creators of Hope believe every child should have a home in which they can grow up safe and secure. Help us fulfill that dream by learning more about our mission, and consider volunteering with us on our next mission trip.