Almost 18 million children have lost both parents out of the 153 million children worldwide who have lost either one parent or both parents. Orphans who have lost one parent to any cause of death are classified as “single orphans”, and those who have lost both parents to any cause of death are classified as “double orphans”. The vast majority of orphans live with their extended family, such as grandparents. However, at least 15 million of these orphans are living on the streets or in orphanages.
What is it?
Orphan care is incredibly broad. Part of this type of care is making sure the orphans’ basic needs are consistently being met. It can also mean advocating for children who are waiting to be adopted, for example, through social media. Orphans are particularly vulnerable to various types of exploitation. When these children are living on the street, there is a high chance that they may be used for child labor or trafficked for the benefit of others. When these children are put into orphanages, their chances of experiencing sexual violence quadruple. It is popular for people from affluent countries to volunteer for a couple of weeks at orphanages. This continuous rotation of volunteers has been shown to lead to attachment issues in adult life. Young adults who are raised in these institutions are 500 times more likely to take their own lives. These statistics point to the need for these orphans to stay with and be cared for by their extended family for as long as possible in order to prevent these orphans from becoming another statistic. If it is not possible for an orphan to be cared for by any of their family members, the institutions that are responsible for their care need to change. There needs to be a consistent staff that the children feel safe around and loved by while they are waiting to be adopted. There needs to be a system in place that fully meets the basic needs of these orphans while they are in this interim. Here at Simple Switch, orphan care looks like conscientious consumers purchasing products from companies who donate to reputable organizations who help these changes happen.
Why does it matter?
The greatest amount of orphans are located in developing countries and war-torn communities. The high concentration of orphans in these areas is due, in part, to the AIDS epidemic that ravaged these countries starting in the 1980s. Moving into the future, the vast majority of the global population growth will take place in these industrializing countries. In order to prevent the bad practices seen in these institutions from spinning out of control with the inevitable growth in the orphan population, those who are privileged enough to make an impact can do so from the comfort in their own homes by being mindful about the products they consume and who produces them.
Making mindful switches to products with a bigger positive impact on orphan care can greatly benefit even a single child’s life without having to visit an orphanage in a developing country.