I often feel enormous impatience at the way in which orphans and orphanages are described and “covered”–to the extent that they are–not only in the media, but by various commentators and organizations. This stems from my unwillingness to simply accept tens of thousands of children living without families as part of the sad global landscape.
One website gives a tiny sense of the vast network of orphanages in the world–most countries have many, many childcare institutions. See http://www.orphanage.org The vast majority of orphanages are not represented here, but it gives a small idea of how disorganized and unregulated global orphan policy is.
I have been reading a bit about Haiti and its ever-growing orphan problem. See for example http://www.upi.com/Top_News/2009/08/09/Haitian-disabled-kids-discarded/UPI-49771249863062/
The article states that “with about 50,000 children living in Haitian orphanages, the plight of disabled children gets lost. A child protection officer with Unicef says ‘it is unknown exactly how many disabled children are abandoned yearly.’ ”
As in many countries, the problem of abandoned children generally and the related problem of children abandoned specifically because of their disabilities come together in a terrible social crisis. Further reading indicates that there is no inspection service or even method of registering orphanages in Haiti. No one seems to know how many there are. Fragmented commentary finds the usual vitriol on the subject of orphanages profiteering and selling children–little of it coherent or enlightening.
I am constantly struck by the importance of promoting a global orphan assessment, whereby countries would be first called to account and then assisted in bringing some light to these neglected children.