We need to change travelers perceptions and the whole volunteering paradigm. The request to “tell me which orphanages I shouldn’t volunteer at” assumes that the majority of them you SHOULD. We need to reverse this mindset.

A. Any orphanage that will let you in off the street to volunteer for a day is NOT an orphanage you should be supporting. In other words, the answer to “which orphanage should I volunteer at today?” is “none of them”.

B. A well run orphanage would have full-time care givers supporting the children. If the orphanage is indeed run by caring, competent, and locally well-informed people who are doing everything in their power to support these children and they still aren’t making it work, short-term volunteers are not the solution. There may be a need for professional support or skills-training for local, permanent staff, i.e. the professional social workers and child-care specialists; but this assumes you have those skills to pass on, that they are contextually applicable, and can be communicated effectively. But ultimately it will still be the full-time, professional staff that should be doing the “caring” of the children, not short-term volunteers, no matter how skilled or qualified. If you are not a childcare professional, social worker, or child psychologist, well versed in local culture and language, you need to ask yourself what value you really bring.