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.
80% of children in orphanages are not actually orphans
A shocking 80% of children in these institutions are not actually orphans but the reason these institutions exists is 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.
As the children grow, the vast majority face severe mental health problems related to their lack of attachment with a real family. Difficult behaviours begin and many seek to flee the institution to seek attachments elsewhere, on the streets or worse still in dangerous abusive relationships.
Unequivocal evidence now exists to demonstrate that the vast majority of children experience violence, abuse and neglect in these institutions.
This has to stop. Children need safe spaces where they can play, grow learn and thrive and Chance for Childhood is committed to prioritising family-based care for every child.
In the years following the genocide, Rwanda experienced a mass growth in orphanages across the county with unprecedented numbers of orphans and vulnerable children to care for. But in line with the Government of Rwanda’s Strategy for National Child Care Reform, Chance for Childhood is working with UNICEF to strengthen family and community-based support for children with disabilities who have been reintegrated from institutions to families as part of the Tubarerere Mu Muryango (TMM) programme (‘Let’s raise children in families’). Your support is now ensuring that children can grow up in their families and local community
Chance for Childhood is specifically helping to identify and map the most marginalised children with disabilities in order to recognise the specific needs and individualised support that each child requires. The scale of the problem is demonstrated by the number of children identified, over 6,529 across the first two districts that we have worked across.
In order to support the scale of the problem we have set up support groups which provide training in communication, feeding, play and all related parenting activities to 4,290 parents. Supporting parents with practical skills, a livelihood and education help to keep families together.
Helping parents understand their child’s needs and building peer support in their community prevents family separation and breaks down stigma. The costs of providing family-based care are also significantly cheaper than the high ongoing costs of running institutions.
Access to early childhood education settings for children with special learning needs also plays an important role in preventing a child from being sent to an institution. As well as providing essential stimuli for each child’s development, parents of children with special educational needs also value the respite and /or childcare offered by Early Childhood Education (ECE)centres.
Chance for Childhood is now proudly able to refer children in the community to ECE centres that have been made more accessible to children with special educational needs, thanks to our inclusive ECE training toolkits which were scaled nationally in Rwanda in 2018-20.
I am lucky that I have been invited for this training. This training has opened my eyes and I have got much that I will be using to help my child strive. I have learnt how to feed and give drink to my child, how to position them so they are comfortable, washing, massaging, playing with my child, preparing meals that provide him with a balanced diet, and supporting my child’s cognitive development.Neza, a parent who is part of the family support groups
My mind used to tell me that children like mine cannot enjoy things. As a result of this training, I am now going to do my best and make sure that my child enjoys his life. I am going to practice whatever I have learnt here and will continue to do whatever I can do so that my child develops well and is one day able to stand and walk
Children belong in families, not in orphanages where they have to fight to just survive. Your donations are reuniting thousands of children with their families, so they no longer have to suffer the trauma of growing up without their families. Together your support is helping to strengthen families, one family at a time.
Can you help a child reunite with their family?
Help us end the trauma of orphanages today. Your gift could help a child experiencing disability to be cared for in their home and provide their parents with vital support to ensure their child can play, learn, grow and thrive through childhood