Save the Children Statement

Friday 27 July 2018

Save the Children Statement

In response to the announcement from DFID at the Disability Summit, co-hosted by the Government of Kenya, that UK Aid will no longer fund orphanages, Wang Le, Country Director for Save the Children Kenya, said:
"Save the Children welcomes the commitment from the UK government to promote family and community-based care for all children whenever possible, especially for vulnerable groups like children with disability.
"By suspending the registration of new orphanages, the Kenyan government also acknowledges that fostering or adoption by Kenyan families would be a better alternative for children.
"We know that children with disabilities are often stigmatised as we have heard such stories from children directly. They themselves told the Kenyan Government their concerns at a recent Save the Children event ahead of this landmark summit. 
"It's crucial that parents are supported to care for children with disability, which is why Save the Children and partners provide support to county governments to conduct surgeries and to make prosthetic limbs, wheelchairs and physical therapy accessible to children. In linking families to income generating initiatives, parents cope better with the additional pressure disability care places on their finances, making it possible for children to grow up in a family setting.
"Mass, abrupt, closures of orphanages would be problematic. But systematic plans towards ending childhoods spent in institutional care would enhance the quality of life for 8 million children currently cared for in orphanages and protect them from potential physical, social and emotional harm.
"In fact, 80% of children in childcare institutions globally have at least one parent alive. Research shows they are more likely to suffer from stunted growth and have a lower IQ than those who are raised in a family environment. Children under three are specifically at risk of permanent damage to their brains and bodies. 
"The mere presence of an institution can encourage the abandonment of children, lead to profiteering and child trafficking. Save the Children has long campaigned for children to be brought up in a family setting and has highlighted the dangers of institutions. 
"The increasing trend of 'voluntourism', where gap year students visit 'orphanages' is of great concern in Kenya and across the globe. Parents are conned into believing their child is being taken away for a better education. But the children are paraded to tourists as a money spinner. The 'cute' and selfie-friendly children are well fed while the disabled children are hidden from view. 
"Actually all these children would be better off with relatives, which is why Save the Children works around the globe to reunite families and support parents to bring their children home."
Notes to editor:
Save the Children, together with the Better Care Network, started ReThink Orphanages, a network of organisations from the travel, tourism, education and child protection sectors to discourage orphanage volunteering and encourage more ethical volunteering options which promote families and communities.
We have an ongoing dialogue with the travel and tourism industry including those working in Kenya to ensure children are protected and with their families wherever possible. 
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Children with disabilities in Kenya being supported to grow up in a family setting:

Joy, a 12 year old girl in South Sudan whom Save the Children helped reunite with her family after four years in an orphanage: