A letter to our supporters from our CEO, Mark Waddington (Part 2)

Hope and Homes For Children Delivering Projects in Rwanda with UBS Support

A letter from Hope and Homes for Children CEO Mark Waddington to all of our supporters, reflecting on the year that has gone and outlining our plans for 2022. Read part 1 of his letter here.

Lourenza, our colleague in South Africa, shared with us the story of Josephine, a young mum of two boys, Alfie aged 3 and Martin aged 5. She told us that Martin has special needs which had not been diagnosed and so it was not understood what his disability was. Isolated from her own family during lockdown and unable to work because of the restrictions, Josephine feared for Alfie and Martin’s survival. In desperation, she contacted local authorities and begged for her boys to be placed in an orphanage where she hoped they would at least have food and shelter.

Josephine was referred to one of our Community Emergency Activation Task Teams. Food was provided. Bills were paid. The boys were supported with education, and Martin finally received a proper diagnosis. Since then, he’s had a specialist support package wrapped around his specific needs. Crucially, the team has deployed a trained foster family to provide additional, specialised care to help Josephine through a particularly difficult period and so prevent the full and permanent separation of her young sons.

But let’s not get too starry-eyed about things. Few families are perfect and some families are very far from that. So when children in families are at risk of abuse, rather than see them punished a second time and locked up in an orphanage, we’ve also pioneered alternative kinds of family care, including locally developed kinship care where children are placed with grandparents or aunts and uncles, in foster care and also in adoption.

This is the kind of work that we are repeating in different, locally appropriate ways across all our programmes, where they are as effective as what we are doing in South Africa. 

And we are on the cusp of significant milestones in the other countries where your support has enabled us to demonstrate better alternatives for children:

  • When we started working in Romania, 105,000 children were confined in the state orphanage system. We now have that down to 3,733.
  • In Rwanda we only have 12 orphanages left to close and there are now no children without disabilities living inside those orphanages – we are at the last mile. 
  • In Bulgaria we only have four orphanages left to close and are anticipating the total eradication of them in the country by late 2022. 
  • We’re building commitment to national reform in India, Nepal, and we’re pushing hard in Ukraine. 
  • In Moldova we only have a few hundred children left to liberate.

The impact we are having in the lives of these children truly is transformational – with substantially improved levels of well-being, security, educational attainment and health, demonstrated when children grow up in strong, supported families. This is why global child care reform MUST be addressed as a turn-key element in the delivery of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals – goals which seek to leave no-one behind; and it is why we have updated out strategy to ensure this is the case.

2021: In numbers

0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0

orphanages we worked in

0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0

orphanages closed for good

0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0

children prepared to return to their own families, or new loving families

Through your kindness, you have become an important part of this success story. It is my hope that you will rally with us on this, the next stage of our journey. We need you now, as much as ever.

In 2021, we took early decisions to respond to the financial constraints we anticipated. Closing our operations in Sudan, Transnistria and Bosnia was an especially difficult decision, but we are proud that the impact of that work will live on in those countries. We capped our expenditure at levels lower than that we have been able to spend in previous years; innovated our operations to work with less, but deliver more while adapting to ongoing restrictions; and we focused on the initiatives that would have the greatest impact for children and families. It was, beyond doubt, a grueling year and we are indebted to everyone who played their part.

However, our hope remains undeterred, our determination steadfast. 2022 will be a big year for Hope and Homes for Children. We are gearing up our collaboration with other organisations so that collectively we have more muscle in the conversations that count. This will enable us to make a more powerful case for integrating child care and protection reform into key areas like public health, education and so on. And we will do this unapologetically, because children’s voices need to be heard.

With this in mind, you can expect to see changes in the way Hope and Homes for Children looks over the coming months, as we launch our new strategy with an update to our brand that I believe will play a vital role in increasing the momentum of change that is already underway.

Hope and Homes for Children is a relatively small NGO. But we’re punchy. And the weight behind that punch comes from one word. Hope. Which brings me back to where I started. 

Mark Waddington
Chief Executive 


For almost 30 years, hope has driven this organisation to fight for every child to feel the love of a safe, family home; and to inspire organisations around the world to close the doors of orphanages forever. The need for our life-changing solutions has never been greater. Covid has brought millions more families to the brink of separation, and orphaned vast numbers of vulnerable children.

But our vision is undimmed: a world in which children no longer suffer in orphanages.

Our ten year aim is that, by 2031, orphanages will be an unacceptable way of caring for children.

How? Leading and supporting national reform in the countries we work in – reducing the number of orphanages in each.

In the coming years, the following countries are on track to have closed ALL their orphanages:

Bulgaria: Aims to close its final orphanages in 2022, with just 4 orphanages left – around 200 children

Rwanda: Plans to close all 12 orphanages and childrens villages, housing over 600 children, by 2024

Moldova: Has the potential to close all 14 residential institutions, with 700 children with the most complex needs, by 2026

Romania: Projected to close its 141 orphanages, containing 3,810 children, by 2027

And we’ll:

  • Upscale our work across India, Nepal, South Africa and Ukraine to support overhauling their child care systems
  • Make sure countries follow through on their commitment to children’s rights

With UN and EU policies and funding now supporting family-based care, our attention will turn to ensuring that governments and international bodies make good on their commitment to children.

With your support, our determination and the hope that has powered us for 30 years we can achieve our vision of a world without orphanages. Make a regular donation here, so we know we can rely on your support for the future of childcare reform.