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When Joy's husband died from TB she thought she would have to abandon her son because of poverty.
Some children are living on the edge but they are not beyond our reach.
Millions of children worldwide grow up trapped in poverty, fear or despair; their lives stunted by abuse, war, HIV, homelessness or the loss of their parents. These children can’t be helped through traditional child sponsorship as their lives are too precarious.
But these children don’t need pity. They need physical and emotional security and the chance to fulfil their God-given potential.
We are supporting children orphaned by AIDS in their communities and ensuring they get an education. We are caring for children who have been abandoned by their families and helping to restore their lives. We are supporting children with disabilities to receive physiotherapy. We are helping street children get an education. The church is acting as the parents that many children have already lost.
We are bringing childhood back to life.
Give to our Forgotten Children Fund today
- €22 per month can support two children in foster families
- €86 can pay for school fees and books for four families for one year
- €125 can pay for a social worker who places children in a foster family
The limitations of child sponsorship
We don’t do child sponsorship at Tearfund. Child sponsorship doesn’t reach the most vulnerable children, such as street children or children with disabilities, as their lives are too precarious. For example Peah, because of his cerebral palsy, isn’t able to write. This means he would be missed out under normal child sponsorship. We use our funds to reach the most vulnerable children who wouldn’t be otherwise assisted. We also support families and communities as a whole rather than have a sponsorship relationship which benefits an individual child. We do recognise that child sponsorship can play a role in supporting children in developing countries.
Families not orphanages
In Tearfund we don’t usually support orphanages because our experience has shown us that they are not the most beneficial way to help children. Even the best orphanages cannot replace the individual love and care that children need from a family-environment and at worst orphanages can become places of abuse and neglect. By providing a low level of support we have found that foster families can be found and these children can grow up in safe and happy environment. The main reasons we do not support orphanages can be found below. Read the Families_Not_Orphanages Report to learn more.
- Psychosocial impact – Children in residential care demonstrate a significantly increased level of social maladjustment, aggression, attention demanding behaviour, sleep disturbance, extremes of over-affection or repelling affection, social immaturity and tendency to depression. Many of these difficulties result from the lack of availability of appropriate, nurturing, stable “mother substitutes” in residential care.
- Physical impact – Studies have shown that children can develop medical and psychological abnormalities arising from institutionalization in residential care facilities such as orphanages and children’s homes. These include physical and brain growth deficiencies, cognitive problems, speech and language delays, sensory integration difficulties, social and behavioural abnormalities, difficulties with inattention/hyperactivity, disturbances of attachment, and a syndrome that mimics autism.
- Lack of sustainability – From an economic perspective, the cost of supporting a child in residential care is about twelve times the cost of support in a community based care program. Since orphan numbers continue to grow rapidly and outstrip available resources, residential care is not considered a viable option for caring for the majority of orphans in the developing world. The UN points out that, “orphanages for 14 million orphans simply cannot be built and sustained”.
- Disconnectedness – In the community, children are able to stay together with their siblings (a tremendous source of solace and support) and maintain a sense of connectedness with their extended family, their neighbours, their childhood friends, their culture, their heritage and their land. Children taken out of their communities are raised in situations which do not prepare them for life as an adult. Residential care does not prepare orphans for adulthood in the community.
- Abuse – Children in residential care may be subject to physical, sexual or emotional abuse by staff or older children, and in the majority of developing countries there are no established child protection services to ensure a child’s safety or prevent future abuse to other children. These cases are increasingly coming to light in the West and there is no reason to believe that they may not be just as widespread in the developing world.