ReThink Orphanages (Formerly Better Volunteering Better Care)

ReThink Orphanages is a global, cross-sectoral coalition working to prevent family separation and the unnecessary institutionalisation of children. Our members work with and provide support, based on the latest evidence, to governments, organisations and individuals to redirect overseas aid and resources to help achieve this aim.  

If you currently fund or send volunteers to orphanages and would like help to divest, please contact us  at contact@bettercarenetwork.org and we will be happy to connect you with one of the many organisations who support this process.  

Key facts about orphanages and orphanage volunteering 

  • Millions of children worldwide live in residential institutional settings such as orphanages – yet an estimated 80% are not actually orphans and have at least one living parent  
  • Poverty is one of the main drivers for a child to be placed in an orphanage – to access basic services including education and health care 
  • Decades of research show that living in orphanages is harmful to children – the effect continuing into adulthood 
  • There is now a global response to move away from orphanages towards strengthening families, to prevent the needless separation of their children 
  • Well-meaning support for orphanages – through donations, volunteering, tourist trips and faith-based mission – is challenging care reform efforts. This support would be much better directed if channelled towards strengthening families 
  • Despite the best intentions of volunteers and short-term mission teams, the transient nature of orphanage volunteering is harmful to children.  Without a family to make them feel secure, children are quick to form relationships with arriving volunteers, only to feel abandoned once again when they leave.  
  • Sadly, our desire to help children overseas has resulted in a rise in orphanages in some countries – to generate income from donations and volunteers. This has resulted in children from poor communities being exploited and trafficked to pose as orphans to attract donors, volunteers and tourists.  

Find out how you can be part of the solution, not the problem and help children to live in families.