By Jacci Roberts, January 2015
If you’ve spent much time around organizations that care for orphans, like Global Hope, you’ve probably heard them tell you there are 153 million orphans worldwide.1 We’re not trying to shock you, but we do want you to grasp how great the need is and how much we need to work together to address it!
Here is something you may not have heard: of that mind-boggling number, only about 17.8 million children have lost both parents (called a “double orphan”).1
The rest of the children captured in that number are considered “single orphans” because they have lost one parent; a mother or a father.
Does that make you think differently about the word “orphan?” Whether a child has lost both parents or just one, BOTH need my help and yours, but the type of help typically differs. Most of the single orphans do not need an orphanage. In fact, separating a child from their parent and putting them in an orphanage can cause great harm to that child.
Poverty plays a leading role in the abandonment of children with one or two living parents. Lack of access to basic services, abuse, neglect, disease, disabilities and emergencies are frequent causes as well—making the solution more complex than just building more orphanages.2
When there is the option of a local orphanage, impoverished parents are more likely to abandon their child. But the truth is that these children will fare much better with their parents than they will in an orphanage.
As Christians, we believe God created the family as the best environment for a child to develop and thrive. It takes wisdom and discernment as a donor to understand the true need of the child you’re helping. Even the best residential or institutional care can never compensate the love of a mother or father. But supporting moms and dads by helping them provide food, education, and medical care to their children often keeps financial stress from breaking a family.
That is why our vision is that every child should have a family. And we never want to separate a child from their family due to poverty!
1 United States Government. Fifth Annual Report to Congress on PL 109-95. World’s Vulnerable Children (2010).
2 The Faith to Action Initiative, 2014 Children, Orphanages, and Families: A Summary of Research to Help Guide Faith-Based Action.