Is building an orphanage Good Practice or Bad?
Traditionally in Africa, orphans were accommodated by the extended family. But in Europe people built orphanages. The characteristics of orphanages for the last two hundred years have been: •
insufficient numbers of staff to meet the physical and psychological needs of the children; •
a failure to teach the children how to relate to adults of both sexes, and in doing so learn how to be a woman or a man; •
a failure to teach them how to build relationships of their own; •
lack of planning of the children’s’ work futures.
In Europe, girl babies are put into orphanages, grow up without relationships with boys and men, come out at sixteen, get pregnant . . . and put their girl baby back into the orphanage.
People seem to love building orphanages.
The idea makes a nice mental picture; – the saintly founders, surrounded by the loving children who are only alive because of them, all in a building that is a concrete proof of their benevolence.
But this picture is about the egos of the builders, not what is best for children.
Today, AIDS has brought a large number of orphans. How should they be cared for?
Consider this :
Perhaps the money that can build an orphanage can also be spent on fostering the babies with
their grannies and paying an allowance. If there are no grannies, aunties or big sisters, they can be fostered with non-related families. If land tenure is closed to outsiders, then older orphans will do better in towns, where they can be found a Master or Mistress and apprenticed to a trade, and ideally fostered with the Mistress’’s or Master’’s family.