The Blog

Ted Talk: The Tragedy of Orphanages

Written by on June 12, 2013 in Featured Videos, The Blog with 0 Comments

In many different ways the message is slowly filtering out to regular folks. Orphanages are not the best option for orphaned and vulnerable children. The good news is that better options are available. We can make better options available to more and more children worldwide by making changes in what we do and how we give.  Learn more about the alternatives here on this website. Enough said.

Forbes on orphanage tourism

Written by on June 3, 2013 in The Blog with 0 Comments

For at least three decades, experts have been stating that orphanages and shelters are not the best way to care for vulnerable children, but orphanages continue to multiply in developing countries. Why? Because regular working men and women, who may not hear from the experts, donate and support them. It’s not enough for experts to make the case that we have better options; regular people outside the development field have to get it.

So it’s good to see articles like this one in Forbes Magazine: Cambodia’s Booming New Industry: Orphanages Tourism. It’s voicing hard truths, and it’s a hopeful sign when this issue is being raised in more places.


Checklist for evaluating orphanages

Written by on May 28, 2013 in Featured Posts, The Blog with 0 Comments

Here’s a scenario you may find yourself in.

You are aware of the problems with putting children in orphanages, and you know things have to change. But you are already supporting an orphanage. You don’t want to drop the orphanage, because that would be irresponsible, but you want the best for the children who live there. What can you do?

Good question! We aren’t suggesting that people suddenly stop supporting orphanages and shelters. We are hoping for a day when the vast majority of orphanages are no longer needed, and that day will come through work and determination. In the meantime, as a donor you have some leverage to push for change. At the very least, you can check whether the orphanage is meeting internationally recognized standards and press for improvements and accountability. You may even have enough leverage to insist on transforming the orphanage into a family support center, but that’s material for another post.

Most orphanages fall far short of international standards. They may have good food, smiling children, and even computers, but all that is just a small part of the story. Click here for an Orphanage Check List provided by ACC International Relief that you can use to evaluate any orphanage to ensure it is functioning properly.



Help promote the video

Written by on May 21, 2013 in The Blog with 0 Comments

Help tell others about the video (Why Not A Family?) and invite them to learn more on this website!


1. Post the a link for the video on your wall.

2. Send personal messages to some of your Facebook friends who would be most interested. Ask them to share the video if they like it.


Send an email to people who you think will appreciate the video. Ask them to watch it and share with others.


Tweet about it.


Blog about it.


Show the video at a community group or church. You can download a high quality version for free at the link above.

Our goal is not to close orphanages

Written by on May 21, 2013 in The Blog with 1 Comment

Closing orphanages doesn’t sum up what we’re about. We’re must more interested in orphanages transforming themselves! After all closing orphanages (the right way) is very hard work. It would be best to put that energy into creating something better for children and families.

In Cambodia the law states that orphanages should make every effort to keep children in their own families or place them with relatives. If that’s not possible, the law calls for adoption within Cambodia or placing children with a foster family. Residential care is only meant to be a last and temporary resort. If residential institutions in Cambodia took these sound principles as a mandate, and hired social workers and trained them accordingly, most would have fewer and fewer children in their care. Eventually they would only be caring for children with no other options. That doesn’t mean they would have to disappear. They might find themselves supporting networks of families and many more vulnerable children than they could in residential care. And they would eventually leave behind a powerful legacy of restored families and better functioning communities!


Not that we’re opposed to closing orphanages when they allow the neglect and abuse of children.

Recently, several orphanages in Cambodia have been closed for reasons ranging from serious neglect to exploitation and abuse. The most recent example involved a police raid in the early morning hours after a group of children from an orphanage in Phnom Penh ran away and reported that they had been abused by the staff. Several of those staff fled, and the director, an Australian woman, continues to protest that she did nothing wrong.

Each case of orphanage closure has required painstaking efforts to reunify the children with th

eir families or place them with relatives or foster families. Closure consumes enormous

time and resources. Cambodia has at least 220 registered orphanages and un

counted ones that have not registered.




Orphanage or family-based care?

Written by on May 21, 2013 in The Blog with 0 Comments

Is this an orphanage or not?  The website for Asia’s Hope opens with: “Orphaned children need real families, not institutions.” It follows that with a call for family-based care for orphans. Family-based care is what experts all over the world are calling for rather than putting children in orphanages. But does Asia’s Hope really provide family-based care?

Each Asia’s Hope children’s home is based on a family, rather than an institutional model. Asia’s Hope hires a full-time mom and dad for each home.

Wait a minute, “Hires a mom and dad” to live in a “home” (whose home?) within a “community” of other “homes.”  My guess is that these “homes” or “communities” are registered with the government of Cambodia under a more familiar term: orphanage.

Still, there are countless more children who need the kind of help we provide.

This is a model for long term residential care for children. It’s good marketing though not an honest choice of words. Perhaps it’s a step in the right direction compared to other residential models, but it’s not family-based care.




“Dear Panama” documentary

Written by on May 20, 2013 in The Blog with 0 Comments

Panama has a system favoring family-based care for orphans and vulnerable children, but children are growing up in orphanages while their cases drag on interminably in a system supposedly designed to protect their rights.