ORPHANAGES, RESIDENTIAL CARE FACILITIES A SCAM

According to a report by the Uganda Care Leavers Project, it is estimated that up to 50,000 children live in Residential Care Facilities (RCF’s) in Uganda, as of June 2019. Moreover, 80% of these children have one or both parents living. Therefore the current use of residential care is not limited to children who lack appropriate adult caregivers; rather, it is being used to address a complex set of issues affecting families, largely related to poverty and access to primary services.

Photo of a Care leaver. Photo Credit @ UCL/Blog

It should be noted that several orphanages are merely ghost organizations, and money-making schemes for people who are capable of owning boarding schools or those that are sly enough to have access to these boarding schools, under the guise that the children in attendance are orphans, which is a big scam.

It is therefore quite fashionable to some ‘big leaguers/scammers’ in that case that one should have income-generating activities which seem to be adding value to the less advantaged in local communities by establishing pretense Residential Care Facilities, under which, they sometimes ask the beneficiaries to pay a portion of the tuition or school fees and have access to the partial bursaries. To the Wazungus however (white people – who passionately want to make an impact by touching lives in Africa), the entire truth is never revealed. They pay thousands of dollars annually and sometimes fly all the way to Africa or rather Uganda in this case, so they can have a feel of wherever their money is going to.

Image of a careleaver visiting her mother’s straw mat business. Photo Credit @ BULA

If lucky, these donors are able to stay at these care facilities for a couple of weeks as volunteers and spend time with the children they are ‘allegedly’ fully sponsoring, and if unlucky, they are shocked by how un-progressive these facilities are as much as they keep sending money to improve the facilities for; for example, building toilets or getting new buildings and paint, it is barely evident that anything was done. The facility owners, however, have access to the best insurance policies in the country, ride fancy cars, preach their self-righteous ‘treat others right’ religious dogma, and fly out for vacations whenever they desire likewise their children, who attend the best schools in Europe and go for vacations in Dubai. Meanwhile, the usually naïve ‘American donor’ (no offense), keeps sending i.e. USD 500 per month, and the child the Residential Care claimed is an orphan gets nothing of these benefits except for the school fees of which in some cases, their struggling parents are paying partial. The school fees for primary school children, if the institution is very expensive, barely goes beyond 300 USD per academic term of which, these facilities never even put children in schools worth this amount of tuition. Then does it surprise you that some of these donors are resented by the people they ‘donate’ to when they visit? NO. – Sorry But Your Donations Never Trickle Down. – (Note that this is most applicable in cases of orphanages and bursaries, never for Academic Scholarships which are Authentic Actually.) So I would suggest more inclination towards those.

UCL … Photo credit @ UCL on Facebook

Also according to the UCL Project report as of June 2019, ‘Often, children are placed into residential care as a result of numerous issues that challenge families’ ability to look after them. These include:

• Socio-economic reasons such as poverty

• Lack of access to education

• Inability to provide children with disabilities with specialized care

• Perceptions that children will have greater opportunities in residential care located in urban areas than in rural communities.

The increase in residential care has coincided with growing awareness of and research into the negative effects of institutionalization on children’s physical, emotional, and cognitive development. The United Nations Guidelines for the Alternative Care for Children prioritizes family-based care and designates or recommends residential care as a last resort and a temporary solution. The Guidelines also contain clear recommendations for states to develop a range of policies and services for children and young people who must exit residential care placement. In addition, the Guidelines emphasize the importance of educating care leavers to be self-reliant and to integrate fully into their community, through the acquisition of social and life skills. Creating a system that promotes, respects, and upholds care leaver rights requires ongoing investment in forward-thinking legislation, strategic planning, and policymaking. There is much evidence, however, that the care-leaver experience has been neglected and under prioritized, resulting in the poor long-term social and developmental outcomes for many care leavers’ – UCL Project Report, July 2019.

That said, watch this video in HBO, HERE to have a clear idea of what this blog talks about.

From the video, you’ll note that;

  • While it seems selfless for some Residential Care Facility Volunteers to be in whatever orphanage they choose in Africa, it is usually purely for selfish reasons and based on the fact that our government policies and securities concerning the volunteers’ are not that strong, it is evident in most cases that these people abuse children not only physically but also psychologically and emotionally. The physical is intentional in most cases while the later forms of abuse, the damages are purely out of innocence/ unintentional. Forget the fact that some of these people are desperate, and want a place where they are looked like gods and saints, some are certified criminals who come to Africa on some sort of pilgrimage where it would take years to uncover their motives or even find out they’re pedophiles. 

  • My colleague Mark also threw highlights that for children, having caregivers for two weeks, then they go, and get others, is highly demoralizing as it messes their sense of trust and attachment. The children cannot really be open to someone in the long run, as they are used to volunteers coming and leaving.
  • All the things the UCL’s Project Report and this blog address are correct.
  • It is better to find ways of supporting children without taking them away from their families as it is essential for their holistic well-being that at least they grow up with their family or close relatives. We cannot endeavor to break down the most important unit (family) for economic reasons, this is the universal law.  Everything starts with family and then we expand to communities, cities, countries, etc.

FOOD FOR THOUGHT

[“Each care leaver is unique; each has different life experiences, opportunities, and choices. As a group, however, care leavers share some of the poorest outcomes in society.”

International research confirms that care leavers are one of the most vulnerable groups in Ugandan society, and highly disadvantaged in comparison to their peers. For example, care leavers may suffer from stigma and discrimination, and experience unusually frequent or severe periods of instability, fear, and loneliness. Many of these challenges seem to persist regardless of the length of time since leaving care, and the disadvantages may even be life-long for some young people.] – UCL Project Report, June 2019.

THE END!

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GLOSSARY

Care Leaver: An adult who has spent time in foster or residential care or in other arrangements outside their immediate or extended family before the age of 18.

Disability: A physical or mental condition that limits a person’s movements, senses, or activities.

Income-Generating Activity (IGA): An activity carried out in order to generate revenues used to ensure the financial sustainability of the organization.

Poverty: The inability of parents or caregivers to provide for a child’s basic needs, food, clothing, education, and medical care.

Residential Care Facility (RCF): Group-living arrangements in which children are cared for by paid employees or volunteers, whether on a temporary, mid-term, or permanent basis. This can include orphanages, children’s centres, transit homes, children’s villages, or other non-family-based settings. In Uganda, RCFs are commonly referred to as children’s homes or orphanages.

Sponsorship: A fundraising strategy in which a charitable organization matches a donor sponsor with a particular child beneficiary. The sponsor receives updates from the child, typically including photos and translated letters, which creates the sense of a personal connection with the child.

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