What should you think about before buying expensive gifts for orphans?

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What should you think about before buying expensive gifts for orphans?
What should you think about before buying expensive gifts for orphans?

On New Year's Eve, echelons of sponsors are sent to orphanages to give gifts to orphans - iPhones, tablets and game consoles. Elena Alshanskaya, President of the Volunteers to Help Orphans Charitable Foundation, reflects on how right this is.

What should you think about before buying expensivets for orphans?

African business on children from orphanages

I was told by a girl who was a volunteer in one of the African countries that there is a very common business on children from shelters. Rich white tourists are invited to help orphans, there are even special advertising rickshaws with photos of unfortunate children from shelters who take tourists there. look at the poor kids. Apart from the rickshaws that make money from this tourist hotspot, the main beneficiary is of course the shelter. Children usually meet tourists with some kind of performance or concert. Painful stories are told. Songs are sung (like our mammoth, I suppose). Many children cry (several times a day sometimes). Tourists are touched with all their hearts, donate for the life of orphans and go to the next point - on a safari, for example.

This sounds very cynical.

An iPhone for an orphan

But tell me friends, how many times in the feed this month have you already read appeals to fulfill the orphan's dream of a new iPhone? Go to an orphanage with gifts, where the kids are “of course” waiting for you? Every day the wave of such messages and requests in the feed will snowball.

Now please stop. Pause. And think a little.

Let's start with the simplest. Do you think it is useful for a child to learn to receive gifts (often expensive ones) from strangers? Is it good for a child to learn to understand that his status as an orphan is a way to receive gifts from the world? Dance for them in front of strangers?

What qualities and way of interacting with the world does this lead to? Now let's take a step deeper.

What is a child in an orphanage?

This is a child who did not arise there, did not form from the void.

Imagine for a moment that this is you. You lived in a family, and something happened in the family. And the family either voluntarily brought you to an orphanage, or (which is much more often) you were taken away from them, that is, the state decided so. Most likely, this is “suddenly” for you, you have never had another family and other living conditions.

What happened there - we don't know. But very often a family that has clearly not coped with its life situation has no resources to resist the state, no resources to cope with this, much more than all others, disaster. And she can't cope and the child stays in the orphanage.

How do you feel? When one fine day they push you into the car, tear you away from your mother (remember Umarali. Remember?) and take you somewhere. Usually, first to the hospital, and from there to the orphanage. To a house full of children who have lost families.

Who will explain to you what happened, why, when you get home, where are you? Nobody. You will be shown a room with eight beds. And they will say that now you will live here. This is your room now. You must very quickly, simply automatically integrate into a complete, well-ordered, collective life. Ten towels marked by the sinks. General rise, general lunch. General lessons. Walk (if you are lucky and you are not disabled, it is better to tell separately what will happen if). There are dozens, or hundreds of the same lost children nearby.

And perhaps in the family where you came from, there was violence, sometimes very difficult situations. Who will help you cope with pain, humiliation, fear, survive this experience and be able to cope with it? Daily regime? Sponsors with gifts? Dance team? The child does not receive any serious individual rehabilitation in the orphanage. He is simply thrown from one situation to another. Stress, trauma, loss, fear - this is what remains with him, but is shoved deep inside, since there is no place and opportunity to react - you are constantly in the team and constantly busy, even time to sob in horror that you are not at home and it is not clear will you ever come back - just no.

The world is your family (and it doesn't matter if it was good and kind for you or a source of pain), your friends, neighbors, grandmother, yard - everything suddenly disappeared, left far beyond the fence.

All you have now is this house, this group, eight beds, caregivers. Shared toilet. Daily regime. In this artificial world, all children are the same. And adults are educators and other workers who work with you (how can a child understand this? Who had a family before? And what kind of world does a child have in his head who had no family and had only this?), -something over the fence, to their children.

Incoming sponsors

There is still a mandatory attribute of this life. Sponsors with gifts. Sponsors with concerts. Sponsors in front of whom you need to speak. For the fact that you are in this pain, there is a bonus - they can give gifts, they can entertain. Before that, everyone is dressed in clean and non-leaky clothes (or exactly the opposite, if the sponsor is one of those who need to be complained about), you have to dance and smile at these strangers. And they will pity you. Then they will leave. Usually forever. Sometimes they will periodically appear in exactly the same scenario.

They don't care what happens to you when you get out of here, completely useless and alone. With ties with the blood family, which have already been almost completely cut off (and is anyone still alive? and who are you to them?). Who will go to give you, an adult forehead who does not know how to live in a world in which you have never lived, an iPhone for the new year, now? Oh no, now you are not an orphan, you are not small, they no longer feel sorry for you. Their hearts are not touched.

It's strange that if you squeeze this iPhone from them now in a dark alley, they won't have any love and pity. Marvelous. After all, nothing has changed in your life. It was like there was no one of yours and you were nobody's personal - it remained so. After all, exactly for this they gave you this iPhone a couple of years ago.

And by the way, if something lucky happens and you are taken in by a foster family, the first couple of years she will completely rake for all your experience of interacting with other people's uncles and aunts, Because she has to give you expensive gifts and dance in front of you, because you are an orphan. How, isn't it?

Why and why do we give gifts to orphans?

I don't want to convince anyone of anything. Think that by giving a gift to a child in an orphanage you are saving the world, consider it (although it is not).

But be honest with yourself. You are doing this for yourself. All the wonderful feelings of being a kind person, a good person, you get at the expense of children. They don't get it, you do. You are well-settled adults, you use their unsettled, lonely, unhappy ones to feel good. To have fun.

And they get the experience that the people around them owe them because they are orphans - but they will be left anyway and will not be taken outside the fence with them into their lives.

Because in order to really help another, you need to understand what exactly the problem of this other is, what he needs, how to solve this problem correctly. Not in the most simple and pleasant way for you - but really.

And don't say anything about a child's dream. A child without a family living in a collective institution has exactly one dream - to get home or live in a family like everyone else.

And yes, going back to the beginning, I believe that a gift to a child can only be given by an adult close to him or very well known. For example, a group teacher or a volunteer - if he regularly visits these children (and certainly not with gifts). He has the right to congratulate his friend on the holiday. But the man in the street is not. How often do other people's uncles and aunts give your children iPhones?

And always, when I see these hundreds of thousands of funds that float away like rivers of gifts (last year, children in some orphanages told us how they received up to 20 gifts for each from different sponsors on New Year's Eve), I feel sad.

How many really working projects could be done with these funds - helping the blood families of children to recover and take them home. Helping foster families of children find a child and cope with parenting. Helping to retrain orphanage staff in a new way (taking into account the ongoing reform) to work with children, helping them to rehabilitate, and not building barracks.

We can't launch our PDS because we don't have enough money. We cannot continue to train employees of orphanages (we have trained 3 and, alas, the 4th will be the last, the sponsor most likely will not have the funds to continue). We were never able to raise funds to build our own shelter for mothers with children (when, instead of abandoning a child, a woman receives help from specialists and support in order to be able to build her life later), and our project to help mothers with mental illness on the brink of closure All of our serious projects aimed at helping blood or adoptive families survive with difficulty. Because of course, it's easier to give a gift to a child who smiles back at you.

And you feel like you've done something really important.

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