Fair treatment of children is front and center as news cameras turn to the U.S. borders and the ongoing, unsolved immigration struggle. What we will not see touted in social media campaigns, news outlets or well-known entertainment influencers, however, is advocacy for the 153 million children around the globe housed in orphanages. (source: UNICEF). Many orphanages do an incredible job housing, feeding, and providing education, however, many do not.
Throughout the “third world” I have visited hundreds of over-flowing orphanages. Care givers do their best to bring a stable, caring environment to the children under their care.
What many do not know, however, is that most orphans are children who DO have at least one living parent. Countries in Africa, Caribbean, Central America report as high as +70% of children have at least one surviving (parent. That number increases when including grandparents, aunts and uncles, as high as 80%.
So why are orphanages filled with children who have families? The parents & family members of orphaned children are not uncaring or dispassionate. Like any one of us, they grieve the tragic separation from their children. This, however, has become the default option when families simply cannot afford to house, cloth, and educate their children. Parents deeply desire to raise their families, and they regularly visit their children, longing for the day when incomes increase, and their families can live under the same roof.
This is the “economic orphan” crisis.
Little is said in our prolific social media forums about this problem. Orphan care in the "developing world," however, is undeniably big business! After all, who among us wants to see any child put out in the street? So we give, and assume that the term, orphan, means “a child has nobody who cares and no other options.” To be sure, orphanages do not [cause] this phenomenon, and many do fill an essential gap for millions of children who are, in fact, without any options on their own.
Missing from this equation, however, is any consistent orphan care strategy whose purpose it is to help families raise their own kids. In fact, most orphanages' funding equation operate on per child sponsorships. Therefore, to reconnect children with their families could, in effect, put orphanages "out of business". –the essence of the self-perpetuating conundrum.
What would happen if the same energies & funding efforts given to support institutional orphan care were to be invested in empowering local family business development (typically agricultural) in these economically fragile areas?
What would happen if instead of feeding children through institutions they were fed through the increased capacities of their families? Capacity, once established, does not require constant reinvestment! This is especially true of agricultural development and methods training, which defines most if not all of the developing world.
This is why we bring coffees to market: We empower families in the developing world through agriculture, including coffee development, which provides greater family income, which keep parents and children together, and provides capacity for education, better housing and re-investment into their own businesses. This is the HOPE each one of us is created to enjoy!
That is the “Share Collective” difference.
Help us change the world, one cup at a time.
Written by Steve Helm, founder, Share Collective & Roastery
Share Collective, Inc.
References: (1) UNICEF Statistics; “Who are our world’s orphans?” Peter Greer;