20 November 2018

New campaign urges young people NOT to volunteer in orphanages

Well-meaning youngsters who travel abroad to help children living in orphanages risk doing more harm than good. That’s the hard-hitting message of a global campaign, launched today. 

The Love You Give campaign is co-ordinated by Rethink Orphanages, a global coalition of organisations, including Hope and Homes for Children, Save the Children and Lumos, that works to prevent family separation and the unnecessary institutionalisation of children.  

Launched to coincide with Universal Children’s Day, the drive to raise awareness is aimed at gap year students and other young would-be volunteers. 

Children who grow up in institutions without families to love and protect them are desperate for love and individual attention. They are quick to form relationships with volunteers as they arrive, only to feel repeatedly abandoned when they leave.  

Millions of children live in orphanages and other residential institutions worldwide, yet an estimated 80% of these children are not actually orphans. Poverty and other challenges have forced their families to send them to live in institutions, believing this offers them a better chance of education and health care.  

But decades of research show that living in orphanages is harmful to children. Growing up without love and individual attention threatens children’s physical, emotional and psychological development.  

The solution has been a global effort to move away from residential care towards supporting and strengthening families and communities. 

But well-meaning support for orphanages – through donations, volunteering, tourist trips and faith-based mission work – is weakening the global care reform effort and perpetuating the cycle of children being separated unnecessarily from their families.

We know that in the right circumstances, volunteer tourism provides significant benefits for both the volunteers and the communities that receive them but we need to be absolutely clear: Volunteering in children’s institutions is a bad idea,” confirms Dr Delia Pop, Director of Programmes and Global Advocacy at Hope and Homes for Children.

You can read more of Delia’s Blog about the problem of volunteering in orphanages here

Find out more about The Love You Give campaign and why we need to #ChangeVolunteering here