Take Action: Churches
A large proportion of the orphanages in the world today are run and supported by well-meaning churches and their congregations. Churches are often the strongest champions of family life, yet the defining element of the orphanage system is that it actively separates children from families. Supporting orphanages that seek to keep children in residential care on a long-term basis denies children their right to a family life, and the multiple physical and psychological benefits of a stable life in a loving family.
Mission trips and donor visits
The number of Mission Trips is growing and the people joining the Mission Trips have the potential for making a significant economic impact (beneficial and harmful) in many of the areas that they visit and in their choice of projects they support.
Many participants on Mission Trips are encouraged to visit children's homes and to support them financially. This is one of the known factors motivating people to build and maintain orphanages. In Uganda for example, the official Alternative Care Framework focuses on supporting children in families and communities, not in orphanages.
It is the responsibility of all participants and organisers of Mission Trips to study the impact of their activities and ensure that they implement best-practice in ethical volunteering and child protection.
Calling on churches leaders
We call on all church leaders to ensure that all social welfare initiatives supported by their churches are guided by the principles of human and child rights, and that all efforts in supporting children should be put towards keeping children in families.
Calling on all members of congregations
We call on all members of church congregations to enquire about the policies and practices of their church and to ensure no child is being denied their right to live in a family. All support for orphanages should rather be put towards positive solutions that give children the one thing they need and want most - a loving family.
Of particular relevance to churches is From Faith to Action: Strengthening Family and Community Care for Orphans and Vulnerable Children in Sub-Saharan Africa, which is a resource for faith-based groups and donors seeking to help children and families affected by HIV/AIDS.