Through our human rights and children rights program we monitors possible abuse within orphanages and advocates the current Indonesian Decree of the Minister of Social Affairs of the Republic of Indonesia No.30/HUK/2011: National Standards of Care for Child Welfare Institutions.
By donating to orphanages, monetarily or in goods, we (knowingly or unknowingly) keep a practice alive of children being separated from their families and with that create possibilities for abuse by institutionalization, psychological problems, separation anxiety and reduced possibilities for success in life. A Dutch report on orphanage tourism concludes the issue well: ‘Children in residential settings have become commodities for the benefit of parties who earn from caring for children or otherwise have an interest in the maintenance of residential settings’.
Research indicates that the trend of submitting children to orphanages, as a coping mechanism, in the first years after the second Bali bombing instigated a change in the social cultural system on Bali. The Balinese kinship system partly fell apart as a result of the Bali bombings, as many families were not able to help each other. Submitting a child to an orphanage became an easy solution that currently continues to exist. Changed family relations due to children not living at home nowadays continues to change the Balinese kinship system for those effected.
Our foundation continues research into orphanages to see the effect of the current crisis, COVID-19, on the intake of orphanages based on poverty and need of education.
According to the Decree of the Minister of Social Affairs of the Republic of Indonesia NO30/HUK/2011 children are to be submitted to an orphanage as a last alternative. Need of education and poverty are not considered reasons as a last alternative, instead orphanages should empower the family through training and ensure children can stay at home and that tuition fees are covered, transport to school is organized, etc. The decree is within line of the United Nations Convention of the Rights of the Child (signed with reservations by Indonesia in 1990) which declares:
‘Recognizing that the child, for the full and harmonious development of his or her personality, should grow up in a family environment, in an atmosphere of happiness, love and understanding’.
The Decree of the Minister of Social Affairs of the Republic of Indonesia NO30/HUK/2011 stipulates when children need alternative care, such as placement in an orphanage or a substitute family:
1. The family does not provide appropriate care even with adequate
support, neglects, or overlooks their responsibility towards the
2. Children who have no family or the whereabouts of their family or
relatives is not known.
3. Children who are victims of violence, abuse, neglect or exploitation
in order to ensure their safety and well-being, where familial care is
evidently against their best interest.
4. Children separated from their families due to disaster, either social or
The 2019 Resolution on the Rights of the Child on the promotion and protection of the rights of children, was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on 18 December 2019 and is ratified by the Republic of Indonesia. The main focus of the resolution is on children without parental care. The importance of growing up in a family environment, the right of having a family and the unnecessary separation of children from their family’s stresses that children should not be separated from their family due to poverty or lack of resources. The main importance is that the resolution urges to strengthen child welfare and child protection systems and to improve the reformation of current efforts. The resolution further stresses that trafficking and exploitation of children in care facilities has to be prevented. The new resolution concludes that children should be supported to stay with or be returned to their families, or where this is not possible, governments should commit to put in place systems that guarantee quality alternative care is provided to all children through family and community-based care. As Better Care Network concludes ‘This resolution’s call for institutions to be progressively eliminated gives an unprecedented political, human rights-based imperative for States to transform the way children are cared for and families are supported’.
Currently some groups in Bali are helping orphanages with food. Indeed, many orphanages have lost a source of income now tourists are not able to come to Bali and for some orphanages this will be pressing hard on the budgets as previously there was an opulence of funding coming in. As identified above orphanages in the current form should not exist and orphanages should have been undertaking reunification and empowerment programs since 2011. Instead many orphanages are still accepting children or even recruit children (mind you; 92% of children in orphanages still have at least 1 parent alive) and have these children as a commodity for their own benefit within their own orphanage. The fact that children need to entertain guests with the objective of securing the economic situation of the Child Welfare Institutions can be defined as orphanage trafficking as described in the Australian Modern Slavery Act (2018), which reads: ‘the active recruitment of children into orphanages or residential care institutions in developing nations for the purpose of ongoing exploitation, particularly through orphanage tourism’.
Some orphanages are doing the right thing and are ready for change, ready for this human rights-based imperative to transform the way children are cared for and families are supported. As foundation we support Jodie O’Shea house in reunifying children with their families and ensuring empowerment. We support Bali Kids in their efforts to help the most vulnerable children having life threatening diseases.
Unfortunately, food also is donated to orphanages that have no Child Protection Standard, were children are being seen as commodities to the operation, where the priority is financial gain instead of love and care for children in real need. By doing so a practice is kept alive of children being separated from their families and with that possibilities are created for abuse by institutionalization, psychological problems, separation anxiety and reduced possibilities for success in life.
To make the distinction between ‘bad and good’ is complicated and needs proper assessment by professionals. We are these experts and would like to offer our guidance and support in acting in good conscience. Together we can break the cycle. Together we can reward institutions that are behaving righteously with your food donations and motivate those who are not to change.
We have developed an assessment tool by means of a survey which can be filled in by any individual, group or foundation. We will subsequently give advice based on this survey to the person that wants to donate to an orphanage and to the orphanage being surveyed.
You can find the survey on: https://tinyurl.com/donation-orphanages
Together we can rule out abuse and make sure children can live with their own family. Do not support abuse in any form!