Volunteer in Africa with
Sem Fronteiras Charity Org.

In today’s volunteering in Africa blog | The orphanage dilemma

Volunteering in Africa has orphanage volunteer work in Africa as one of the popular volunteer in Africa programs for volunteers. Evidence exists that since international volunteering in Africa increased, the number of orphanages has dramatically increased. A significant number of these orphanages are not even legitimately registered and almost all the orphanages house a good percentage of children who are not orphans.

Other concerns that have been raised among volunteers volunteering in Africa are; in most of the orphanages, the children live in very appalling conditions, they are abused by the caretakers and it is reduced to a simple provision of shelter for the children whilst the operators of the orphanages are enriching themselves with the funds they get in the name of the orphans.  So many quizzes why volunteer in Africa in an orphanage then?

The African family system is also another strong point raised to buttress the point that there must be a second look into the orphanage volunteer work in Africa program. African families especially the deprived ones whose vulnerable and orphaned children need care, largely have the extended families living in one community and providing support for each other, including giving room and care to other children of their family members who have passed away. Thus there is no need to extract these children into orphanages; rather we should find ways to encourage families to continue this good work and to support them in doing so. So why not volunteer in Africa in such places, is also quizzed by others.

Another argument has been the fact that the short term volunteering in Africa in an orphanage leaves children broken hearted when a volunteer builds a relationship with the child and leaves so suddenly after completing the volunteer work in Africa. Again it is quizzed, should I volunteer in Africa in an orphanage?

Well here are the views and answers our charity provides which I subscribe to. I have been working to improve the lives of children for two decades now including managing volunteer in Africa programs across five countries. What is the position of our charity organization and what is behind this position has been a question I have received from almost every volunteer in Africa and stakeholder of volunteering in Africa programs who have raised these issues.

The first point is that children who are privileged will not be found at the orphanage, it is those children from poor homes, be they orphans or non-orphans and it is a true confirmation of their vulnerability if they are found at the orphanage despite their parents being alive. These children are as much in similar need as the orphans are. Volunteer in Africa work and our projects to support orphanages that we knowingly are aware that they have non-orphans, is in perfect line with our target and focus on vulnerable children. So think and focus on the children, the time shared with them, the positives you can bring into their lives as you think of volunteering in Africa.

Until an alternative becomes possible, our options are limited when it comes to trying to provide help to the children in orphanages where the managers are known to be scrupulous because any withdrawal of support as long as the children remain in their state, will be much harsh on the children. Thus we adopt a different approach in making sure that the children are the biggest beneficiaries of our support whilst we lobby regulators to bring changes. A presence of a volunteer is always a good thing for the child, they are watchful eyes and the compassionate caring persons we can have within those walls to care for the children. Another reason we humbly think you should volunteer in Africa doing a volunteer work in an orphanage.

In an attempt to discourage poor homes from sending their orphaned and non-orphaned children to the orphanages, we have rolled out programs that target children in the deprived areas, providing free healthcare, health insurance, educational support, summer holiday vacation in the city to enjoy some privileges they never have, etc. to motivate the families to keep the children.

One day spent with a child cannot be valued. It can have an everlasting impact on the child forever so we encourage you to spend anytime you can with the children at the orphanage and to also join us on our children group work which if you support us to grow it by participating or recommending people to join, will in the medium to long term, cut that flow of children from these deprived communities to the orphanages, allowing the children to leave with the families they know and grow in the community with their friends and families, extended or close, around.

At the end of the day, I encourage you to look through our volunteer in Africa programs, volunteer opportunities or mission trips and choose a volunteer work in Africa that suites you, come and help us by volunteering your time in Africa.

Posted on May 7th, 2014