Raising awareness for Nepal

Op school heb ik het vak *global studies*, waarin wij allemaal verschillende kanten van de wereld bespreken. We begonnen met *global issues* en hiervoor moest iedereen een artikel schrijven over bepaalde wereldwijde problemen. Voorbeelden zijn bijvoorbeeld water tekort, oorlogen en opwarming van de aarde. Voor mij was al snel duidelijk dat ik het probleem met weeshuizen in de gehele wereld wilde gebruiken, en daarom hier dus mijn artikel (*het is in het engels omdat ik tto doe*): **Orphans in danger** In a recent research, UNICEF has estimated that there are between 143 and 210 million orphans in the world, and this number doesn’t even include abandoned children. Throughout the world there are thousands of orphanages and children homes in which these children are taken care. Volunteers come and go to help and educate the children on hygiene and English, which is desperately needed because these children mostly live in poor conditions. As a future volunteer myself in an orphanage in Nepal, I wanted to find out more about these orphanages and children homes. Through research I came across some shocking information: lots of orphanages and children homes are not what they seem to be. Everywhere on the planet, there are, of course, people with the best intentions when they decide to set up an orphanage. However, people do not always have the best intentions. Owners of some orphanages try to buy children from their parents claiming that the children will receive better food and education if they come to the orphanage. When these children reach the orphanage, they don’t actually do so. They remain living in very poor conditions and mostly receive none to very little education. The owners try to lure volunteers to the orphanage, because the volunteers will always pay money to the orphanage. The volunteers are under the impression that the children in the orphanage don’t have any parents left, but the truth is that most of these children have been taken from their living parents. The volunteers sometimes give presents to the children there, such as toys and clothes. However, the owners of these orphanages sell these gifts as soon as the volunteers have left and use all the money they earn not to improve the way the children live and pay for better education: they use the money for their own well-being. One of the factors that plays a big role, apart from volunteers, is adoption. Many western families are willing to pay thousands of euros to adopt a child from an orphanage. Of course, this is done with the best of intentions, but mostly these adoptions motivate orphanage owners to pick more children from their homes. And the worst part is, owners have become so good at covering their actions that hardly ever anyone catches them and does something about it. There has to be a solution to this enormous problem. However not many people are actually thinking about this problem, therefore the first step to solving this problem is making people aware of it. This way, volunteers, couples who want to adopt and even people who just donate money, clothes or toys to orphanages will see that they have to dig very deep before making their choices on which orphanage they will help. The second step could be supervision: if only there were people who would watch over an orphanage or two. This would not mean that they should support them financially, but that they have to sit down with the owners from time to time and discuss the income they have from volunteers, adoptions and donations, and where they spend the money on. Moreover, it would be great to have someone advice owners on the care of the children, the education and most important, the conditions of the orphanage itself. This could result in very important developments, such as better financial insight. Additionally, talking and discussing with owners of orphanages will work better than blaming them of owning a corrupt orphanage rather than a child’s home. In Nepal alone, there are around 974,000 orphans and abandoned children. A huge number if you take into consideration that Nepal has around 30 million inhabitants. While researching orphanages in Nepal, there was one that stood out. The Sunrise orphanage in Kathmandu was set up by an Australian woman, Emma Taylor, in July 2005, and is especially focused on this ongoing problem of corrupt orphanages. This is incidentally also an orphanage I will be visiting and maybe even volunteering in. When Emma Taylor volunteered in an orphanage in Nepal, she found out it was one of the corrupt orphanages there, where the children were abused. She decided to set up her own orphanage, mostly to take care of these children who previously lived in abusive and corrupt orphanages. Most of the children there were not even orphans. Of the 74 children currently living in the Sunrise orphanage, 70 have already been brought back into contact with their family and can even spend time with them again. The children in the orphanage are being raised in an environment that resembles a family, and everyone tries to take care of each other. Additionally, all the children eat a nutritious meal and receive clean drinking water. Their physical health is checked regularly and they even have psychologists. Furthermore, all the children receive education and are taught about culture, English and Nepali. After this education, the children are encouraged to go to college and the orphanage helps them to pay for it, but they have to support themselves with small jobs as well. This orphanage is a perfect example of what orphanages have to aim for when they’re developing, and gives hope for a better future for children in corrupt orphanages. To summarize, there has been an ongoing problem of corrupt orphanages in the world, which threatens the well-being of thousands of children. This problems needs to be solved, and this could be done by making the world aware of the problem and have people supervising orphanages. One of the orphanages that has taken a really important role as an example for other orphanages is the Sunrise orphanage in Kathmandu, Nepal.

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