“I visited Tanzania on a volunteering trip when I was in college, which I really enjoyed at the time, but looking back on it compared to other volunteering trips I’ve had since then, I can see that the trip was mainly beneficial for me rather than the people I’d gone out to see or ‘help’. 

This was particularly the case for the orphanage we went out to see and involved visiting young children and giving them gifts or toys which we had brought ourselves. We also took photos with them and played with them in the park. It was a very short trip, and I remember leaving feeling like we hadn’t really achieved anything there.” – Nikki

‘The Love You Give’ is a new, 18-minute documentary that focuses on the untold stories of orphanages, a system that’s harming the very children we believe it protects, and how you can choose to be part of the solution. What I loved about this documentary was that there were no foreign experts explaining how orphanages harm those in them. This time, the stories were told by care leavers in Kenya, who are determined to support those who have grown up in orphanages and advocate for families staying together.

The fact is, an estimated 80% of children living in orphanages are not orphans and have at least one living parent. Many of these orphanages rely on orphanage tourists and voluntourists for funding, which means that these strangers have virtually unrestricted access to the children. This opens them up to all sorts of risks; detachment issues, mental health issues, and of course, physical and emotional harm.

Australians are major contributors to the upkeep of orphanages. I can’t count how many times I have witnessed a school group heading off to an orphanage in Siem Reap, or received flyers promoting I come and ‘watch the orphans dance’, or overheard tourists brag about visiting orphanages. Children deserve to be with their families. Orphanages must change their strategy by reuniting children with their families, and for those who are true orphans, get them into foster care.

Take 18 minutes to watch ‘The Love You Give’ to learn more about the harm orphanages do to millions of children across the world, then take the pledge to never visit an orphanage. The change starts with us.