I was taken aback by a comment made by a foreign government official a few years ago at a global child welfare symposium. He said “Orphans belong in orphanages.” No, they don’t.
In some cases, orphanages may be the best temporary solution for a child who is suddenly homeless for whatever reason. The key word is “temporary.” Orphanages are almost never the best permanent solution for a child. “Permanency” is, permanency meaning a family via reintegration or adoption.
I have visited orphanages in 18 countries. On one end of the spectrum, these are severely under-resourced institutions which are hard for me to enter and even harder for me to leave. Where the children and even the staff are merely trying to survive each day. On the other end of the spectrum are well-run institutions where the staff has the resources and the heart to create a family-like setting for the children entrusted to it. But institutions with a good caregiver-to-child ratio are the exception, not the rule.
Notice I’ve introduced a new word into the mix – “institutions.” The word “institution” conjures up the image of a prison. And I’m glad it does! Orphans are stuck. In a sense, they are prisoners. They have no rights; no voice; almost no hope. Each day their routine is the same. They live in overcrowded, underfunded, sometimes unsafe conditions. The difference between prisoners and orphans is that orphans did nothing to deserve their prison. They are victims of unfortunate circumstances.
Recognition of this unjust and distressing picture introduces another word that is gaining traction in the global child welfare community – “deinstitutionalization.” In acknowledging the plight of their orphans, several countries have made deinstitutionalization a priority objective – affirming the notion that Every Child [does indeed] Deserve a Family.
Using our technology platform, Both Ends Believing is empowering the governments of these countries in this courageous, groundbreaking effort. We invite you to come along beside us with your financial support. Thank you.
Click the link to provide a better life for these children: www.bothendsbelieving.org/give