There is now unprecedented evidence of the dangerous harm that orphanages cause to children. Despite this, there are still so many in existence across the world and particularly in Africa.
A shocking 80% of children in these institutions are not actually orphans but the reason these institutions exists are complex. They can generally be categorised as;
- In colonial times, children without parental supervision were placed in state-run institutions, and so an ‘orphanage’ was born.
- Nowadays, many orphanages are profit making businesses and many people would lose money if they are closed down.
- There is a lack of sufficient child protection systems and a lack of formal foster and adoption programmes for children that need additional care.
- Many families still believe that their children would be better off in an institution, incorrectly associating orphanages as a route out of poverty, a way to get a better education for their children or a way to avoid the stigma of living with a child with disabilities.
- Orphanages attract attention from donors, a tangible picture of cute young children happily receiving a good meal and a nice bed. Sadly the full story is rarely told.
Children end up in institutions due to a variety of factors, poverty, disability, marginalisation, poor social support systems, trafficking and conflict.
An orphanage is no place for a child