On a good day, a friend who worked in international development made this statement to me, which I found totally shocking. It is a somewhat contradictory reality, do not you think? Orphans in orphanages, who really are not orphans. Looking for information on the subject, I have come to understand a little more about how children who are not orphans end up in orphanages, and why volunteering to help them can cause more problems than solutions.
Generally, international travelers try to help while traveling. Volunteering in orphanages is tragically one of the most demanded volunteer programs in the world. However, we must think twice before committing to this type of program. Keep reading to find out why.
Most children in orphanages are not orphans. How can this happen?
It is poverty that drives most children to live in an orphanage, and in most cases, the lack of education in rural areas. Most children who reside in an orphanage have at least one parent who is alive. These families send their children to an institution because they believe that they will be able to get better opportunities for them. However, the monetary contributions that reach the orphanages are not helping the children; but they allow these corrupt institutions to earn their dividends.
To meet the requirements of well-intentioned volunteers and generous donors, the directors of these orphanages often remove children from families who generally live in rural areas. Then children become moneymaking machines. That it does not cost you to believe this; Child protection specialists have documented this reality in more countries.
What happens to children who are separated from their families?
We all know that children need a positive and caring environment to grow. In these orphanages, there may be physical support for the children but there is certainly no emotional support. Children who grow up in orphanages like these are prone to adult neglect, child exploitation, and abuse. Volunteers who come to these institutions can even create emotional scars on these children. Children generate attachment to volunteers who are constantly being replaced, creating feelings of distrust since there is no constant influence in their lives. It is almost impossible for these children to have enough space to grow, progress and be prepared for life. When they leave the orphanage, they feel lost, overwhelmed and alone. In many cases, they even end up asking in the street with the memories of a very bitter childhood. There has even been the case of young people from orphanages who have been involved in child trafficking for this corrupt business because it is the only experience they have.
How can we help?
Instead of donating to orphans, we must help families and communities. Here we give you some ideas on how to contribute your bit in the right place in a simple and easy way.
- Supports programs that help families stay together promoting basic family services.
- Collaborate with organizations that work to stop child trafficking and unfair volunteer programs.
- Create awareness of the dangers of volunteering in orphanages in your network of friends and family.
- Supports organizations that gather and connect children who have been displaced from their families by orphanage trafficking.
- Contribute to the local economy by investing in small local businesses and developing responsible initiatives while traveling.