Millions of Christians, Muslims and members of other faith communities who want to make a difference travel on international short-term mission trips every year, most often to countries that are in development.
Being a Missionary
Many missionaries traveling to visit or volunteer in children’s residential care centers, often referred to as orphanages and children’s homes, are motivated by a desire to care for orphaned children.
Whilst good intentions underlie the increasing trend of short-term mission trips to residential care centers, there are significant concerns about the effect this has on vulnerable children and the way it perpetuates the cycle of children needlessly placed in residential care centers as a response to poverty.
Use of residential care institutions
The response has been a growing shift the focus for short-term term mission from engaging with children in residential care centers to engaging in activities that support family-based care. Learn how mission teams are supporting families.
Children live in residential care centers for many reasons. Research shows that poverty, not lack of caregivers, is a primary cause for placing children in residential care centers. Parents and other caregivers struggling to provide for their children may feel compelled to use a residential care center to meet their children’s basic needs. Other causes include abuse and neglect, disability (either children or parents), natural disaster, or conflict
Ending Family Separation
Scripture, social science, and international guidance all agree the best environment in which to raise a child is a healthy, loving family. A family provides the love, nurture, stability, protection, and care that are integral to the healthy development of a child. There is a growing movement among international and national policymakers, missions agencies, and nongovernmental organizations who are shifting away from the overreliance on residential care centers toward increasing family-based models of care. If you are planning a short-term mission trip, please read the guidance that has been developed by our faith-based partner organisations on how to avoid potential harm and ensure positive outcomes for vulnerable children, their families, and their communities.