UNICEF estimates 2.7 million children are living in orphanages world wide and surveys indicate most are not in fact orphans!
This week, the Berkley Forum asks: How can stakeholders link deeply held faith commitments to care for vulnerable children and encourage active contributions to children’s welfare that align with contemporary understandings of what is best for them? What can religious leaders, individuals, and institutions do to combat orphan tourism? Are there forms of voluntourism that can be helpful, rather than harmful? If so, what do those best practices look like? How can faith and secular development actors improve their cooperation to care for orphans and vulnerable children?
Child protection specialist and co-founder of ReThink Orphanages Leigh Mathews says we all must contribute to ending the orphanage era and provides some tangible ways to to so in her response.
Ms Mathews says: “There are many ways to give back—and we need to recognize that volunteering when travelling is not always the best way. Sometimes it is simply better to travel, pay for carbon offsets, stay in eco-friendly accommodation, support ethical local businesses, and make a contribution to an organization that is working to address development issues in an ethical and sustainable way. Unless you have specific, relevant, specialist skills, in most cases development work should be left to the professionals.”