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. Stanley T Bratton

    You cannot say that all orphanages in Myanmar (Burma) are good or bad. I am sure there are both. However, there are also cultural and economic realities in Burma that create a need for strong faith based orphanages or boys and girls homes. Children growing up in rural areas (or the slums in he larger cities) have extremely limited education and employment opportunities or the parents may not for whatever feel they can care for the children properly or give them the best opportunities. Many of these families live in rural, agrarian and isolated communities and staying there almost guarantees the children perpetual poverty generation after generation. If a well run orphanage can offer loving care, spiritual guidance and support for education then perhaps this opens the door to success in or outside of Burman. My father-n-law’s mother made that difficult decision in 1927 to send her 5 year old son to a Catholic boys school. He grew up a strong Catholic, graduated secondary school, served with the British military fighting the Japanese, worked for a major trading company and eventually immigrated to the USA with his young family and started and ran a number of small businesses leaving his family a legacy of hope and achievement in living the American dream. Most of his brothers at the orphanage remained in Burma but also lived rich and fulfilling lives. I cannot speak for the orphanage of today as I am sure many things have changed (e.g. government taking over education) but I believe that strong faith based orphanage can offer hope and opportunity for many of the children of Burma.

  2. Rev. Vel Za Siama

    Yes! it is all your Opinion! Opinion is just “Opinion” and far from fact! You are NOT Burmese, so what you know you think you know is just a surface about Burma! And, as I read your article, I can see that you are a very good business man trying to politicizing to gain for your support and demonizing ALL children’s home ministries in Myanmar and accused them of what they do is just to gain financial support! YOU ARE COMPLETELY WRONG!

    My name is Rev. Vel Za Siama, missionary/pastor of Independent Baptist Church at out skirts of Yangon city, sent by Baptist Bible Church, Manila, Philippines. I am a Burmese, born in Myanmar. My main calling is planting churches in Myanmar since 1999 among Buddhists community. As we do, we have learned along the way that children ministry is a main thing to start with because Buddhist adults are almost impossible to win. Now! Wait a minute! Did I not say I am a pastor? So, my main concern and burden is to win a lost soul to Jesus! I am not humanitarian worker. You shared your OPINION! I will share my OPINION too! This is my OPINION: THE MOST IMPORTANT THING FOR A HUMAN BEING INCLUDING YOU AND I IS “SALVATION OF OUR SOUL” FROM HELL FIRE! This is more important than helping a family financial whom you will never win them to Jesus. I guaranty you!
    You, as a foreigner, come to Myanmar with lots of dollars. Went to public schools and institution, whom you criticized, and fed big meals to hundreds of school students. Spent lots of money. took pictures. Do you think how many people found salvation in Jesus? None! They may smile at you while you feed them. But you don’t know how they scorn at you at your back. You don’t grasp how stone hard the hearts of Myanmar Buddhists people. Actually you are wasting your money and time! But, you are entitled to your opinion! Go a head and do what you do! But, it is wrong for you to criticize who are doing orphanages and children’s home. Mana Thang is the name who did wrong about his orphanage. Yes, we don’t like the way he treated his young girls and children. I know this man and I don’t like him. He used to come to me begging to support his orphanage. But, I will never support him. He did wrong so he received the consequence. But, it is totally wrong for you to criticize all the children’s homes and orphanages in Myanmar and announced to the world to not financially support every one of us! You owe apology to us!
    We started our children’s home in 2003. Before we start, we helped a few children with their school needs like back packs, paid for all their books. And, to this day, we have stipend program to our Sunday School children who are not in our children’s home. We give them Ks.3000/month/child. There was one girl, very faithful to our Sunday School. Her father and mother were divorced. The mother and the child lived with the grandmother in a slam area in a very small hut built with bamboo and trows. The mother later died with Tuberculosis sickness. Before she died my wife and I helped the child with her school needs. We even brought to the school on admission day. Sure, we love her, we want to help her, but, most importantly, we want to win her to Jesus Christ because we know that is the most valuable thing for her. So we had our mission. Our mission was to get that girl come to our church continuously so that some day she will receive Jesus into her heart and to receive the salvation of Jesus Christ. If she did that, our missions will be accomplished and our mission was for the good of others, not for ourselves and we are happy. But sad to say, one day, her father came and took the girl saying she is my daughter I will get her to where I am. So, we lost the girl! All the efforts, the money, our mission was gone! This is only one example. We have had many stories after stories to tell that broke our hearts. We felt very bad and very disappointing! Then, my wife and I discussed about it and one thing we began to understand. That is, only when we get the children for our own, and live life together constantly with them, not that we are good at caring the children, no parents from poor families in Myanmar are good at caring their children any way, a lot of parents even do not deserve to have children in their homes because they live like animals and “you” want to help them live like animals? Your help money will only serve for more beers in their homes! Any way, but that we want to impart the faith, the good faith that is good for eternity, into their hearts and soul so they will not depart from it until they die. Then, we asked God whether we should do children’s home or not for one whole year as we also searched the Scriptures how God thinks about fatherless and poor children. God showed us plenty of Scripture God is 100% in favor of helping and caring, housing and clothing, feeding and nurturing the fatherless and poor children. Isaiah 58:6-12, James 1:27, Ps.10:14, Ps.68:5. So by faith, we said, we must do Children’s Home. So we started with one orphaned child on September 1st, 2003. We did not have a single support financially because we did not rely on financial ability. We relied on God’s ability to help feed the child. After one weeks, miracle happened. Someone donated us 200,000 MMK and we bought 10 sacks of rice. After 2 weeks, we had 14 poor children. And then, someone helped us rent a separate house for the children. I myself did not have any financial support. But, supports came from places we never expected even never imagined. Until today, God feeds us as a home with 32 poor children and few workers.
    Again, we do this children’s home ministry not because we are expert on caring the children. We do this, in my own case, to win lost souls to Jesus Christ. You may do it with a different reason from mine but none of us has the right to judge the other. As a matter of fact, western people I like to tell you that your human perspective is totally different from a Burmese perspective. What I mean to say is that you, as a westerner, does not understand a bit of Burmese way of thinking, living, culture and traditions. You don’t know what they value. You, especially from USA, the way you value so much about your freedom is totally different from we, Burmese people, value it. You value freedom too much that young people today don’t even know right and wrong. You are only after freedom which makes you lost! “Do whatever you want” is actually a Satanic slogan. People in Myanmar value to be trained their children in children’s home. As we teach the Word of God and strive for their salvation, we also teach hard work (It’s not abuse), discipline, good manner, etc., etc. 98 percent of the children by the time they go back to their families, they are solid born again Christians. Many boys and girls have called me and thanked me the way I trained them while they were here because they literally see the better life they have compare to the people they encounter daily. One Buddhist young man from Kareni state (Kaya) is now serving God after he finished in Bible college yet his sibling and parents are still Buddhists. Had he not come to my Children’s Home and lived with us until he finished high school this young man will never ever become a Christian not to mention serving God! Well, I have many proves to say that our children’s home ministry, I do not speak for others, is one of the best ways to win the lost souls to Jesus Christ and that is the best thing the children will ever received in their lives!

  3. David Mang

    To all Critics,

    The best thing for all parties (Children, parents, critics, and children home owners) is children to live with parents. Do your best to help their parents feed their children. Teach parents not to divorce or separate, rather to take care of their own children. I wish you also help as quick as possible all parents in Myanmar to able to give their kids education regardless of what educational, political and economical situation in Myanmar are. Then, as you wish, there will be no orphanage home in Myanmar and no child will experience abuse. In addition, there will be no foreign supports needed for children homes. This is your concern, as well as our concern. If you can help all the parents in Myanmar feed their kids and send to school until they finish high school and college, then ask everyone in Myanmar and donors in the world NOT to support children homes for you see all children homes as abusive institutions. But, if you can’t, start now to establish a children home to help children whom you say you concern. Only then you will learn what is LOVE based (or Faith Based) children home means and why people run children homes and what are their difficulties and the needs of children in Myanmar.

  4. Michael

    It is good information that I learn through your article. Seem to be true as well. I also started over a few months disadvantaged children so -called The Lord’s Home.
    It has been more 20 years that I wanted to start but delay due to some reasons.
    Now God answer my over 20 years prayer.
    Education is the only door left to change the rural areas so far as my observation concerns.

  5. 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!

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

  7. 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!

  8. 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.

  9. 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!

  10. 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)

  11. 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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