Craig Greenfield

Craig Greenfield is the author of The Urban Halo, story of one family's experience in a Cambodian slum and establishing an innovative ministry caring for over a thousand orphans. Based in Cambodia, he is the International Director of Alongsiders International (www.alongsiders.org), a movement to reach the world’s most vulnerable children.

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The boy by the side of the road

Written by on May 16, 2013 in Articles with 0 Comments

He saw a boy lying in the middle of the road. What he did next will surprise you and might even change the way you act next time you see a child in need.


Racing round the corner on my way to the meeting a little faster than usual, I thought of all the things I had to do that day. I was showing a visitor around town and I also had my own errands that needed completing. Not far to go, I thought to myself. We’re only a couple of minutes late and we’re nearly there. I’m sure they’ll wait. As we slowed to negotiate a pothole, I looked up ahead and saw that there in the middle of the road lay a little boy, about eleven years old. A car had slowed to edge past him and the boy seemed oblivious – either asleep or unconscious. It was your typical Good Samaritan situation, but I was certainly not in the mood for interruptions. After all, living in Cambodia I came across this type of situation reasonably often. He was probably just a glue-sniffer – wasted and sleeping it off. I sighed, pulled over and stopped. We shook the boy and quickly realised that he was intellectually disabled and didn’t seem able to speak.… Keep Reading

Touch-starved: The hunger of children in orphanages

Written by on May 16, 2013 in Articles with 0 Comments

Why do children in orphanages often run and hug visitors as soon as they arrive?  Why did Western nations stop putting abandoned children in orphanages? For answers to both of these questions look at the work of a genius named John Bowlby.


Dr-John-BowlbyJohn Bowlby (1907-1990) has been described as a genius and one of the three or four most important psychiatrists of the twentieth century. Every student of psychology or psychiatry, and many of a number of other disciplines would have heard of his watershed work on separation, loss and mourning. Perhaps more than any other figure in recent decades, Bowlby has had profound influence over the treatment of bereaved and separated children in the Western world.

Anyone who has visited an orphanage will have experienced the effects of what Bowlby described as “Indiscriminate Attachment”. As soon as you arrive, the children crowd around, hungry for attention, the attention of a complete stranger. Younger ones cling to your legs and look up endearingly, silently imploring you to give them the nurture and love they desperately needed.

Most of us think their indiscriminate friendliness, clinging and attention seeking conduct is cute. But anyone familiar with John Bowlby’s work realise the situation is much sadder.… Keep Reading

Five reasons not to put children in orphanages

Written by on May 16, 2013 in Articles with 0 Comments

Why not start an orphanage? That’s a good question to ask before committing many years and untold resources to a task most experts agree is, well, questionable. Here are five answers one Christian worker in Cambodia found when he considered the question.


urban-haloOrphanages continue to be the default response of many to the challenge of caring for orphans and vulnerable children. However, mounting evidence suggests children are best cared for in their own communities and extended families. In my book, The Urban Halo, I outlined some of the reasons we decided not to build an orphanage. Here is a brief summary of the most important factors.

1. Science

For decades, researchers have found that residential care has a negative effect on the psychosocial development of children.

Children in residential care demonstrate a significantly increased level of social maladjustment, aggression, attention demanding behaviour, sleep disturbance, extremes of over-affection or repelling affection, social immaturity and tendency to depression. Attachment theory suggests that many of these difficulties result from the lack of availability of appropriate, nurturing, stable “mother substitutes” in residential care.

Dozens of contemporary studies have also documented medical and psychological abnormalities arising from institutionalization in residential care facilities such as orphanages and children’s homes.… Keep Reading

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