The focus of this thesis is the position of orphans, vulnerable children and orphanages in Ghana in relation to the ‘help’ they receive from western volunteers and NGOs. This position is often viewed differently by NGOs, volunteers, and their ‘host’ communities. The author's main argument is that the western aid ‘industry’ (Crewe and Harrison 1998, 15) has played a major role in the proliferation of orphanages in Ghana. Ghanaians – adults and children – involved in orphanages in the Volta Region are active agents in this process of receiving aid from NGOs and western volunteers. They should not be seen as powerless victims of poverty or other difficult circumstances.