What’s wrong with orphanages? (Part 2)

February 15, 2016

In the previous post, we left off the conversation with three questions.  This week, we’re going to begin addressing the first two questions:

So what’s wrong with orphanages?

Why do we need to do anything to change them?

Unfortunately, research and experience has shown that institutional orphanages (i.e., non-family model orphanages without committed, primary caregivers) often exacerbate the orphan crisis.  Despite many well-intentioned providers, the current paradigm tragically treats orphans as second-rate humans, basically as a waste of resources.  And because the world has been starting with this false premise, traditional institutional orphanages often have unintentionally worsened the orphan crisis by failing to provide the kids what they really need and thus causing the orphans themselves to create more orphans when they have children of their own.

What do institutions typically fail to provide?

  • High-quality education, health care, and nutrition
  • Deep and meaningful relationships with local community members
  • Social and spiritual development to develop the children into gospel-driven leaders.
  • Family.  The children have no family in the institutions and therefore have no model of a stable family to guide them when they grow up and have their own children.

Yes, institutions give the children their basic material needs to get them through each day.

But they deny the kids the things they really need to develop their individual and community identity, fill their deep familial, social, spiritual, and psychological needs, and help them to overcome their overwhelming feelings of shame, inferiority, powerlessness, humiliation, fear, hopelessness, depression, social isolation, and voicelessness.

It is this tragic reality that we seek to address and remedy through a best practice framework.

We pray that this series is just the beginning of a conversation and collaborative action that will work to shift the paradigm in the world surrounding orphans from one where they are seen as an underclass to one where they are seen as children of God with unique gifts and talents.  That the children can become gospel-driven leaders when loving family and friends invest in their lives in real ways.

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