On 22 September, Better Care Network Netherlands launched the “Wees Wijs” campaign. The campaign is aimed at young people who – because of their faith or out of a desire to make a difference – want to travel abroad to volunteer with vulnerable children. Wees Wijs shows the unintended consequences of these volunteer trips, and the harm they do to children.
Approximately six million children worldwide live in orphanages. Before the pandemic, thousands of volunteers and interns travelled – with the best of intentions – to these homes. They come there to help but unfortunately harm the children who grow up there.
Hundreds of scientific studies worldwide show that growing up in an orphanage is harmful to the development of children. Children in orphanages not only lag behind in physical growth but also suffer from impaired social and cognitive development. Moreover, the constant coming and going of unqualified volunteers can be traumatic, creating attachment problems for the children.
Fortunately, there are also many forms of (national and international) volunteering that ARE a good idea! The volunteer test on https://weeswijs.nu/ helps young people find volunteer work that really contributes to local communities. Although the campaign is based in the Netherlands, many of the volunteering resources they suggest are open to anyone.