Entrepreneur Spotlight: Shutting Down Orphanages
According to UNICEF, it is estimated that there are over 145 million children without families or loved ones to care for them in the World. With poverty, war, natural disasters and civil unrest contributing to the number of orphaned, abandoned, and vulnerable children, care is of the utmost importance. Traditionally, institutions and orphanages were created to help look after and provide for this negleted part of the population. Yet a couple from the UK has been inspired to move beyond the age of institutional care. They believe that compassion, family, and a place to call home are what the most neglected children of the World deserve. Through their non-profit, Hope and Homes, they are working in Central and Eastern Europe as well as Africa to connect children in need with families that will love them as one of their own.
New Age of Child Care
This model moves beyond foster care, orphanages, and temporary homes. It focuses on eliminating the need for institutions by creating a network to connect children with potential families. To date the organization has shut down numerous instiutions throughout Europe that formally housed abandoned children. Their goal is to not just place these children in family-based care, but to help provide them with opportunities to live life to their fullest potential. They focus on keeping families together, addressing the specific needs of the child, and shedding the idea that the government will take care of those most in need. In the conflict-ridden areas where they work, the governments are struggling to stay in power and maintain their city, so institutional care for children is a lesser priority. Hope and Homes focuses on the rehabilitation possibilities for these children to aid them in experiencing life to the fullest extent possible.
Based in Wiltshire, UK, Hope for Homes was originally started by Mark and Caroline Cook after a visit to Sarajevo, Bosnia in 1994. There, they witnessed the ruins of state-run child care.
"The orphanage, home to some 120 children, had been badly damaged by constant shelling. There was no glass in the windows and no running water or electricity and very little food. It was freezing cold in the winter and the children were crammed into one room, kept warm by a single flame from a gas pipe.
One correspondent from The Times described it as "the worst place in Sarajevo aside from the morgue." These children who had already suffered the ordeal of being orphaned or abandoned were now living in poverty, fear and misery, and had little hope for a happier future. "
Since that day, they have been on a mission to fulfill their vision, a world where every child feels loved. By closing down institutions and re-directing efforts toward family-based care, they believe they are creating a more positive future for these children.
This type of work can be applied to many developing countries that house 130 out of the 145 million vulnerable children in the world. With natural disasters on the rise along with civil unrest and economic collapses, caring for vulnerable, abandoned, and orphaned children does not always rise to the forefront. It should be noted that children do not necessarily need to be orphaned to be considered vulnerable. Hope and Homes works to keep families together to help them get back on their feet as a team, prioritizing family-based care not only as a right, but a basic human need.