Here’s a story about a family who arrived at their first home in Cambodia and discovered they would be living next to an orphanage.
The story caught my attention, and after a little poking around online, I realized the family lives not far from from me. I’ve often passed by and seen children and volunteers milling around outside and wondered what sort of place it was.
Our family of six first arrived in Phnom Penh at midnight, and some friends drove us to the house we had rented on our survey trip. It’s a row house – ten multi-story dwellings that are connected, side by side.
At daybreak, an orphanage moved in to the house next to us… I didn’t know anything about orphans or orphanages in Cambodia, so I had no preconceived ideas about what it would be like to live next to an orphanage. I would soon learn.
Every orphanage is different, and the one in this story appears to be a bad one. But it’s not atypical of orphanages in Phnom Penh. It was chaotic. Staff were not always around. They had 40 children and the staff living in a space normally used by one extended Cambodian family.… Keep Reading
One day an experienced Christian worker picked up the phone to call a young woman who was planning to open an orphanage in Haiti. This is what she said.
Over the past two years, I have had the privilege of leading multiple teams overseas with World Orphans. Part of my job that I love is getting to educate and teach team members what the Bible says about orphan care, about our role and responsibility in tackling orphan-causing issues, and about the various models of orphan care that other organizations employ.
I have noticed in the past decade or so that God is doing an amazing work in the hearts of His people in regards to orphan care. The Church is finally starting to rise up and carry out the mandate in Scripture to rescue and care for the fatherless, widows, and the poor around the world. Social media, the Internet, photography and video, and the ease of travel in this day and age have only increased our awareness of the orphan crisis and extreme levels of poverty in the majority world.
I am excited that we are finally starting to respond; however, I feel a huge burden to speak into a particular issue that I have come across time and again while working with individuals along the way.… Keep Reading
You may be surprised at all you didn’t know about orphans and orphanages after watching this eye-opening video made in Cambodia. Many people after watching this video agree it’s time to change our methods of caring for vulnerable children in the poorest places around the world.
Going to visit a beautiful country? Want to make it better by visiting an orphanage? Think twice. Volunteering can have negative consequences as shown in this excellent video (above) and article at The Guardian. Volunteers in Nepal are being used by unscrupulous orphanages and voluntourism companies to the detriment of Nepali children and families.
When Dorota Nvotova, a young Slovakian, began volunteering at Happy Home in 2008, she was so moved by the children’s plight that she found a sponsor for every one of them. She raised about €150,000 (£122,000) for the home, but it was only later that she discovered the real reason its owner was so eager to attract foreign volunteers.
Whoa! Good job, but…
“It’s definitely about him making money. For him, it’s a business,” she said. “Whenever volunteers came he always tried to impress them and then they started fundraising for him.”
Unfortunately, it’s not hard to lure children and volunteers into even bad orphanages with a veneer of educational programs and good salesmanship.
… Keep Reading
Philip Holmes, chief executive of Freedom Matters, the charity that instigated the inquiry into Happy Home, said that in the worst cases this practice constituted child trafficking.
“Once a child enters an orphanage, he or she seems to become the property of the orphanage owner … [In effect], they become prisoners of the orphanage,” he said.
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.
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.
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.… Keep Reading
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.
What happens when orphanages have beds to fill and and warped priorities?
I can still see the tears streaming down her face, the hopelessness in her eyes, and the burning sting of defeat that grew with each tear falling onto the toddler she clutched close.
The weary widow stood on the steps of our child development center, aptly named Brave Seedlings of the Andaman Sea by survivors of the 2004 tsunami that devastated the coastal regions of southern Thailand.
“It takes courage to make the right decision to give your child away,” the Christian missionary orphanage director said, confident and calm,assuring the weeping widow her precious son would never know hunger again.
Carrying a clipboard with paperwork and photos of a beautiful cement home, the director came prepared for this young mother to sign her child over. Every three months she could visit her son, and he would have the opportunity to complete high school and possibly attend university.
I arrived while the ink was still wet on the orphanage registration form. As I realized what was happening, my righteous anger turned ugly.
“How dare you show up here asking to meet with vulnerable parents?” I yelled at the orphanage director.… Keep Reading
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.
John 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