Mr Beast’s new YouTube campaign: why rebuilding orphanages will create orphans, not help them

Mr Beast sat with lots of money around him

Image: Mr Beast via Youtube

The world’s most popular YouTuber, MrBeast (131M subscribers), has raised $41,000 so far with a video asking his followers to help him rebuild South African orphanages. 

The video (We Saved an Orphanage) has hit nearly 5 million views in just a fortnight.  

And although MrBeast’s mission “to make the world a better place” is admirable, rebuilding orphanages can expose children to abuse, neglect and violence.  

Denied the chance to grow up in a family, they are also more likely to become homeless later in life, have run-ins with the law, and experience mental and physical health issues.  

That’s why there’s a growing global movement to make orphanages history. It’s a movement backed by the UN, EU, Commonwealth and South African Government. And it’s a movement that Mr Beast’s YouTube video could fly directly in the face of. 

Orphanages harm children 

Of course, we’re in awe of MrBeast’s ability to inspire his viewers and to help protect those who need it most. That being said, there is something everyone needs to know about orphanages: Children do not want to grow up in them.  

The 5.4 million children confined in orphanages worldwide (including the tens of thousands in South Africa) want to grow up in loving families – not orphanages. The good news is, that’s completely possible. 

How? Because 80% of children living in orphanages worldwide, still have living families who, with the right support, could care for them at home. 

What is the real solution? 

Too often donations don’t help orphans – they create them. Here in South Africa, for instance, a recent report exposed how an influential child protection organisation wrongfully removed 2,000 children from their families. We know this is not an isolated case. 

Thousands of children are being ripped away from their families and placed in orphanages, rather than supported to stay together with their loved ones. Often these children are treated as commodities to attract donations from well-meaning donors. The more children the orphanage has, the more donations the orphanage owner pockets.  

This is why it’s so important to make orphanages history in South Africa and worldwide.  

Over the last 30 years, Hope and Homes for Children has worked in 30 countries, showing governments how it’s possible to close orphanages and reunite children with relatives. When that’s not possible, our social workers find and train foster parents in the same country, including specialist foster carers for disabled children. Because children deserve better than orphanages and are safer and happier in families. 

Join our movement 

We’re leading the global movement to make orphanages history. And we are not alone – organisations like the UN and EU, people like Sir Elton John, and our friends at Lumos all support it. This isn’t a fundraising campaign. This is a movement to create real, lasting change.  

We’d love for MrBeast, and his wonderful followers, to join us – starting out in South Africa. Let’s give children loving families – never orphanages. 

It’s time to transform the way children are cared for worldwide. 

Author: Lourenza Foghill

Lourenza Foghill is National Director of One Child One Family – Hope and Homes for Children's programme in South Africa.