How do orphanages find their children?

I had a good conversation the other day on SKYPE, talking to a university student in Cambodia who used to live at SHEC, and in fact was one of the first students to live there.

He was telling me how, when the home first opened, he – as a young student – was approached by several local families who wished to place their children there.

How different from the story I read on watchdog sites who make the blanket claim that orphanages – by inference, most orphanages – pay families money to take their children in order to use these kids as a money-making front. Obviously I find such activities offensive – but I find any inference that this is anywhere near the norm quite offensive too.

4 thoughts on “How do orphanages find their children?

  1. I agree. I find this claim very detrimental to the activities of the vast majority of orphanages who are doing marvellous work with often very scant resources. You can’t tar everyone with the same brush. In all my trawling through the web to find organizations to list on my site I have yet to find any which fall under the alleged category. And believe me, I do a lot of background checking, like reading independent blogs by volunteers and searching news reports etc. Which is not to say there aren’t orphanages which abuse the volunteering/donation system but I suspect they are very few and far between. For instance, any org. that is not a registered charity, does not have a formal child safety policy, and for which there is limited independent feedback available, is probably best avoided.

    • Thanks for your comments. One unintended consequence of watchdog organisations – and I mostly applaud their existence – is that they are starting – (locals believe) to get used by unscrupulous locals as a way to extort money from NGOs. All a local parent needs to do is go to a Watchdog organisation and claim their child was hit. Cambodia is an easy place to make allegations – and true justice is not so easy to come by. One allegation, combined with one over-zealous well-meaning organisation could result in a catastrophe.

      This kind of blackmail is being used against tourists as well – an unfair allegation of sexual assault could be a very hard thing to fight without a reliable police force of justice system.

  2. And I would add, as this article suggests: if it doesn’t feel right then it probably isn’t right. One would hope that prospective volunteers would be intelligent enough to realize that if both they and the children are clearly being exploited then the organization is not legitimate. It’s not rocket science. Also, children who have one parent still living are nevertheless definitionally orphans and, whilst it is arguable they may be better off in their communities, a lot of orphanages either provide their own educational programs or, at the very least, rigorously ensure that the children in their care attend local schools on a regular basis. This may not necessarily be the case in the village environment.

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