After living and teaching for several years in Oman, Brady and Amber Black prayed about and decided it was time for a change. Although they weren’t exactly sure of what this change would look like they knew they were ready for something diﬀerent. One night, while spending time with some good friends, they learned about a children’s home in Beirut, Lebanon. As they listened to the stories of the children being served there, and how they had come to be there, their hearts broke. They planned a trip to Lebanon to explore more of what the home oﬀered and the needs there. After seeing for themselves how great the need was and meeting the children, they knew that Home of Hope was what was next for them. Brady quit his teaching job in Oman and within a year they were settling in their new home in the hills of Beirut.
Home of Hope was established in 1999 by the Lebanese Evangelical Society. The children living there come from all types of backgrounds. They have been removed from severely abusive situations: sex traﬃcking, drug experimentation, human organ donor traﬃcking. Many are refugees. Abandoned, abused and violated they have no options. And they are without papers. This means they do not have IDs and cannot attend public schools or be treated in hospitals. These are the children that fall through the cracks. Home of Hope was started to help provide them basic needs like food and shelter, medical care, and education.
The challenges that Brady and Amber faced when they ﬁrst arrived were daunting. Many of the children had never been in any educational setting before, from teaching children how to sit in chairs and listen, to fear of turning your backs on them because someone might get stabbed with a pencil, there were no easy answers. The children who came to the home were ﬁlthy, covered in lice, had nothing, and that was only the outside. Believing, however, that this was where God placed them, and that “education is a force of change and good,” Brady and Amber persevered.
Through trial and error, they realized that traditional methods would not work with these severely traumatized kids. Hope Academy opened in the fall of 2016 with the guidance and help from locals and a new staﬀ member, Steven Wilbur. Steven joined the team as the Director of Education and the principal of the school. After only 2 years in operation the diﬀerence for the children has been amazing. Steven shared recently, “Kids who may not have been to formal school are rejoining their level at public school.” In the Spring of 2017 another much needed team member joined the staﬀ at Hope Academy, Corsaire Vining. With each arrival and the much-needed help, more obstacles and challenges are being addressed. Today Home of Hope has 27 full time staﬀ, 3 part time staﬀ and anywhere between 2 to 8 interns!
As the school began to run more smoothly with the help of the new staﬀ members and the programs in place, Brady and Amber were able to focus on the residential issues at HOH. It was clear that the house parents needed more guidance. Early this year Brady took over in the role of Residential Director. This is a huge role as there are 40-50 children residing at HOH and the importance of a stable and secure home environment is crucial to the healing and future of the children. Although at ﬁrst Brady felt inadequate to take on this position, he is now excited to see what God is going to do. Amber also is now focused on working on the Home side of things. This is exciting because she works with the Director and can help strategize and bring about much needed changes. Caitlin also joined the HOH team in 2018 as Communications Manager as well as working in Partner Relations.
Before they found their Home in Beirut, Amber said to Brady, “Life is meant to be spent and given out.” And every single day Brady and Amber and the team at HOH do exactly that.