Starting and supporting orphanages diverts resources from developing family and community based, long-term solutions based on the official Alternative Care Framework.
Thousands of Ugandan children suffer today from the opinion held by many people in the international community that building or supporting an orphanage in Africa is a good solution to the plight of many children. 'Support an orphanage in Africa' still has a strong emotive resonance for many people who genuinely care and who want to help.
If all the funds and resources that are currently directed to supporting orphanages in Uganda were instead channelled according to the priorities laid out in the Alternative Care Framework, we would take a huge leap forward in creating sustainable solutions that take into account the rights of children and the internationally accepted best-practice programme planning for social support and development.
In common-parlance an orphanage is a home for children without parents. In reality, most of the children in orphanages in Uganda today do have one or two living parents and an extended family.
As social workers and development professionals recognise the harm done to children by the orphanage system, fewer orphanages use that word and seek out euphemisms that blur the situation; children's homes, children's villages, care homes, childcare institutions etc. Even some academies and schools are effectively orphanages by another name.
The 'either-or' argument, to leave children destitute or put them into orphanages is not a valid response and not in the best interest of the child. It is cheaper and so much better for children to be supported in their families and communities.
Similarly, the 'either-or' for short-cuts in the international adoption process are not valid. To argue that a child being in an orphanage justifies ignoring the Children Act and jumping straight to international adoption, ignores both the law of the land as it is intended and ignores the continuum of care process as detailed in the Alternative Care Framework.