A father and his young child

Alternatives for mission trips to help orphans

It sounds counterintuitive to say that a mission trip to help orphans abroad isn’t in the best interest of the children involved. But whilst volunteering in or visiting an orphanage in countries such as Nepal, Tanzania and Guatemala may appear to be a worthwhile and compassionate thing to do, it can actually result in a lot of harm.

We believe it is extremely important to put an end to the practice of orphanage volunteering, including through mission trips. Instead we want to see these good intentions channelled into more appropriate methods of caring for vulnerable children. 

If you are considering organising or being involved in a mission trip to help orphans we would encourage you to take a look at our suggestions below:

1. Get informed

Find out more about the harm caused to children by mission trips to orphanages, as well as the alternative care available which is less damaging and disruptive to a child’s development and overall well-being.

2. Help strengthen families and communities

Instead of supporting an orphanage, support local churches or organisations that are working to strengthen families and communities. Look for programs which work to tackle poverty and support families, building their capacity to care for their children in the long-term. If a family can afford to clothe, feed, educate and keep their children healthy they are substantially less likely to feel they have no choice but to send their child to an orphanage.

3. Support family reunification

Volunteer on a family reunification program that helps families prepare for the return of their child. Speak to local churches or organisations on how to find these opportunities and the details about what you and your team could do to support. 

4. Undertake a due diligence check

Conduct a due diligence check on orphanages you currently sponsor or are considering sponsoring in the future.This will help you understand if the orphanage is abiding by the relevant laws and standards in place, and whether it truly is a last resort and temporary care centre for children. ACCI Relief has some brilliant resources to support you when conducting due diligence checks.

5. Advocate for change

Check out these suggestions on how you can help bring about an end to short-term mission trips to orphanages and be an advocate for children. Although a very sensitive subject, the only way we can change the situation for children worldwide is to stand up for what we believe to be right.

6. Support local families

Consider how you can support children in your own community too. Sometimes it is easy to see the plight of others and forget about our duty to those in our own communities too. Children need champions everywhere.

By pursuing these types of activities, we can be confident that we as churches are supporting children in the most effective, most sustainable ways for their long-term benefit.

If you have further questions or would like to discuss your mission trip with us, please contact us or get in touch with one of our faith-based partner organisations.