Our Opinion

We came to Myanmar with the expectancy that we would work with children living in orphanages here, but quickly realized that most of the children living in “orphanages” actually had living family members. The question we started to ask ourselves was: “Why are these children living in “orphanages?”As to many big questions, there was not an easy answer. But it became clear to us that by working with “orphanages” here in Yangon, we would only be making it possible for more children to be sent away from their families to live in institutions. We started to ask ourselves what could be done to help the families take care of their own children, and as a result to that question we started Families Together in 2006. Many years have passed, and we are still asking ourselves the same question, continuing Families Together, and trying to help families take care of their own children, but we have also realized that many people visiting Myanmar are not aware of the situation behind the beautiful smiles of children living in these overcrowded homes called orphanages or children homes. In our experience most of the homes in Yangon are Christian faith-based homes started by individuals mainly coming from the Chin State. And as teams, pastors, individuals, organizations, etc. visit these places they leave behind much needed cash to continue to run the homes. Even though this is all with the best intentions (and needed looking at the current situation), we would like to see that foreigners visiting Myanmar would be more careful with supporting children homes, without looking at what could be done to help the families take care of their own children. In the last few years we have had a number of these homes reported for various abuse of the children without the donor knowing anything about it. There is also a tendency for teams to visit these homes with their cameras, leaving the children exploited by directors asking for more support and by the team’s need to do ministry. It is our strong opinion that we are not helping this nation, and especially the Chin people, by supporting “orphanages,” but by supporting rural initiatives aiming at developing the local villages. This will continue to be our approach when dealing with the many children homes, and we hope that many will join us in developing the Chin future.


  1. Adam Wirick

    This article is precise. I have worked in Myanmar for a number of years and found this to be true. Though our focus is medicine we have started some small community based educational programs with the intent to keep families together.

    • Stig Skaran

      Thanks for writing and thanks for keeping families together!

  2. I recommend you make comments on Google maps orphanage so people hear your warning before jumping in a taxi for an orphanage

  3. I think you are getting misunderstanding.

    Actually, you should consider that is not only for parent-less but also for helpless children. Helpless mean, those who have month but fatherless or motherless. Because of poor is like orphan because of their parent unable to pay for his/her children education cost and send them to school etc. The helpless of poor children also have right to get access the education and alive with…
    I sincerely would like to recommend that any well-wishers should for equal rights, should not looking for only orphan.

    • Stig Skaran

      We need to help all children in need, and children from poor areas in Myanmar have great need, but we don’t think that placing them in institutions are helping them. We think that helping the families and the villages is a better way of helping the child. Removing a child from his/her family is not considering what the child really needs.

      • Wintzaw Htet

        I agree with you, Stig. I’m a teacher. But now I’m attending M.Ed course in Sagaing University of Education. I have a plan to do a research on the orphans for my thesis. So I went to the orphanage and I found that the children are not totally the orphans, as you said. But most of them are the minority from the remote area.Some of them came to the orphanage in order to avoid the war. Nevertheless, these children need for help.

        • Stig Skaran

          I am glad you want to write about the situation for your thesis. Myanmar need more attention on this matter. And I don’t think that there is just a simple solution to the problem.

        • Hello Wintzaw,
          did you ever write your thesis about orphans in Myanmar.
          If so I would be very interested in getting in touch with you!

  4. It is sad that foreign donors do not know the real visions of the orphanages directors. Many of the Myanmar orphanages were started with business purposes. Many evangelists and christian workers went to the rural poor villages, lured and persuaded the ignorant parents and collected their children, and were brought them to cities and started orphanages. They use them as a bait to ask donations and supports from outside. They have no proper training on how to care and look after the children. They often abuse the children in many ways. Children are often threatened with various threats. The biological children are like big bosses to the other children in their care homes even if they are in the same ages. That’s terrible but widely existing. Most children in those childcare centers have emotional wounds that they are afraid to express. Believe it. It’s the real situation.

  5. It is really good that you raise awareness in this matter, I have seen the problem too. I have even seen children left at orphanages in Myanmar, supported by foreigners, while the parents move to the US. Many years later they sent tickets for the kids to move to the parents in the US. God bless you for helping these families!

  6. Hi, I would like to extend my help in providing foods or basic education to the destitute children living between thai and myamar border.
    How do i start to do this
    with blessing
    sally chua
    email: sally@qson.com.sg (pls c.c copy to : charlene@qson.com.sg)

  7. Stacie Evensen

    Good observations.
    I have seen and heard a bit here and there too. Definitely some big issues out there…I’m excited about the website and you getting the word out there to help these kids and families in the best way possible.

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