Let’s Keep Families Together

Julio is 10 years old. He has a million dollar smile and a puff of brown curls on his head. I’m taken to him particularly because he instantly attached to me when I arrive, holding my hand and showing me around. He clearly yearns for a connection, but unfortunately, his mother lives in extreme poverty and cannot provide for him- she wants to, but needs help.


Paul is still at the Good Samaritan Home, 4 years later. I held him in my arms the first time I went to Kenya – he was oly months old.  He was abandoned in the slums of Soweto, with no record of his family. 4 years have gone by and no one knows who left him on the side of the road, and he has not been able to be adopted.



Kevin is 13 years old. He ran away from home where there was no food and rife with instability, and ended up at the WTF center. But he has a family that he misses. And that he wants to go back to.

These are just a handful of children that I have met over the years – children with real stories of need, of hope, of trying to find a place they belong in the world.

And that place, truthfully, is not in an orphanage, no matter how well intentioned the directors who run it are, no matter how much the care givers who work there care, no matter how “inspiring” the naive foreign volunteers who come bearing gifts find them.

The place where children belong is with their own family, immediate family if possible, extended family when not, and at least within their own community.

Kitechild has evolved significantly in our past 7 years of operation. We started off with a goal to empower children living in orphanages, so that they could break the cycles of poverty that often led them there. We didn’t know how to do this, and we didn’t know much abut orphanages in general. We just thought what most westerners did: that orphanages were necessary because the parents of these children had neglectfully abandoned them, or they all had died of AIDS or other diseases.

But as we started to visit these homes, in places all over the world including India, Kenya, Mexico, and Central America, we realized that 90% of the children living there had families, families which they missed and who missed them. The main underlying factor that led these children to living in an orphanage, away from their families, was extreme poverty. When a mother faces the cruel reality that she has no food for her child, or no money to send him to school, leaving him vulnerable to recruitment into a hard life on the streets, an orphanage providing food, shelter and education is seen akin as a boarding school, albeit one that will separate her and her child.

As a mother myself, this is not a choice that any mother should have to make. It pains me to think of mothers, and fathers, who reach a desperate point in their lives where they feel like they can’t provide for their own child, and essentially send them away in hopes of a better life. Because truthfully, this is not about lazy parenting, or neglectful parenting, this is about families who live in countries with high poverty rates, countries where little to no social services exist (nothing such as food stamps in the US), or countries where the chances of a woman finding a stable, safe job are slim to none.


Of course, not every child’s case is due to poverty. There are children who have experienced significant abuse, unimaginable torture, sex trafficking, willful and cruel neglect, stigmatization from their community due to AIDS or because of their caste, female genital mutilation, tribal warfare, etc. etc. Those are all very real cases that still happen today. And for those children, there is no “Child Protective Services” such as we have in the U.S. There is only the open door of the nearest orphanage, where they can only hope the staff will be kind, there will be social counseling available, and ways for them to find a new family or reunite with the old one day.

All this we have learned in our 7 years of research and traveling in the field, and this has greatly changed our perspective on how we feel we can best empower these children to thrive. We acknowledge the need of an orphanage in places where no other safety net exists, but we are also supporting community outreach programs that help families stay together and not be separated due to lack of food or access to education.

But it does not stop there. We have the ability to push for stronger policy in terms of child protection. That is why our latest project deviates from our traditional sustainable, income generating projects. This project is being done in conjunction with the Kenyan government, who have a very limited budget when it comes to their Children and Family services. (Why they have this small budget is another story (read: mismanagement) but we will not go there). Thus, Kitechild is sponsoring a 2 day training program for 27 orphanages in Nakuru county. This conference will focus on guiding each home to create an exit strategy for their children: meaning, a strategy to successfully re-integrate eligible children back with their families or with extended family in their own communities. The importance of social workers and commitment will be stressed. The timelines and budgets will be outlined, and we will have a follow up training in the first quarter of 2018 to follow up on progress and record how many successful integrations have occurred, what the challenges are, and best ways moving forward.


The goal of this training is to further educate and spread awareness to these orphanage directors and caregivers of the importance of making every effort to keep children with their families, whenever it is safe and healthy for the child to do so. Many of the directors I have met are no doubt selfless, kind, and good hearted people who see it as their ‘calling’ to help at risk children, but they do not realize that rather than taking in as many children as possible, what would be better for the child is to support the child while living at home. Plus, these type of outreach programs are more cost effective than housing a child in an orphanage.

The funding needed for this campaign is not very much – around $1900.00. I strongly believe in the way in which Kitechild is moving forward, and I hope that you can join me as we continue to create real, measurable, and long term change in the way that at risk children are empowered to thrive.

With gratitude,

Jacqueline Herrera
Co-Founder and Director

It Takes A Village

Sometimes that village includes an orphanage, a school, a rescue center, a feeding program. Sometimes it includes volunteers, both foreign and from the local communities, engineers and project managers. Sometimes the village is located in a slum, on a farm, deep in a jungle, in a high rise in New York city, or a small office in West Hollywood. There might even be a member of that village in your own home. However the village is comprised, everyone’s heard the saying, “It takes a village to raise a child.”


Sometimes mom and dad pass away, sometimes they become too ill, sometimes there is not enough food, and unfortunately, sometimes not enough love. There are a myriad of complicated reasons why children end up at risk, so much so that they are placed in an orphanage, often by heartbroken parents who feel as if they have no choice, or by government officers who don’t know where else to send a child they find on the street.

I’ll admit, when we first embarked on our journey to start Kitechild and help these children, we thought that orphanages were the only choice they had, so we started there. And our thoughts were in a way true: orphanages are often the only choice for an at-risk child, because in the countries we work in, there are no alternative child protection services. No CPS, and little to non-existent foster care or adoption. After 6 years of research and being in the field, we know that an orphanage is only one option out of many, and at the end of the day, should be considered a last resort. But until better solutions start being implemented, for many children, it’s either an orphanage or the street.

Orphanages are currently getting a (rightly deserved) harsh scrutiny in the media. Many organizations are working to shut them down. We agree that they should be the last resort for children, but we think that a safety net must be put in place before we shut them down. Otherwise, children end up on the streets, end up being trafficked, abused, either in their homes or as runaways. They end up becoming malnourished or dropping out of school, when parents cannot afford to provide their basic needs.

So, how did we start brainstorming on better solutions? How did we manage to evolve and become a trusted NGO in the field? We listened to the community. We listened to the government officers. We listened to the teachers, to the healthcare workers, to the parents, to the orphanage directors, to the social workers. And most importantly, we listened to the children. Why were they in an orphanage? Where was their family? How can we prevent the breaking up of families, but still provide a safe shelter when children are experiencing danger at home?


Which brings us back to the safety net – it must be cast by the entire community. It involves the parents, the teachers, the social workers, and yes, the government too must step up their commitment to seeing these at-risk children thrive. At Kitechild, we are helping to build that safety net through our sustainable projects which empower communities to support their children. Projects such as greenhouses, clean water access, and chicken farms generate income for much needed support including social work, re-integration with family, access to nutrition, and access to education.

Our projects employ local community members, because we believe in starting from the ground up. We know that the local community knows what is best for their children, but sometimes they need the financial means to lift themselves out of poverty. We hope to employ parents of at risk children in the near future, so that they are able to have income to support and keep their families together. Our projects provide fresh, nutritious produce to children who would otherwise suffer from malnutrition. Our projects teach children about entrepreneurship, about empowerment, about self-sufficiency—they see that their ability to thrive is not dependent on the charity of others. Self-sufficiency and personal fulfillment comes from within, and they are capable and deserving of breaking the cycle of poverty and living healthy, joyful lives.


There is one final member of this village that plays an important role: you. To our donors and supporters, past, present, and future, you are very much a part of this village. We couldn’t cast this safety net without you. We hope we can continue to count on your support as we all work together to help at-risk children break the cycles of poverty and lead happy and productive lives.

Some of the children living at the Ashirvad Home.

Clean Water for All

We pull up to a muddy ally, and are greeted by Kevin, a shy boy who is proudly wearing one of his best outfits, his shoes a gleaming white against the brown mud. Despite him being quiet, he exudes a sweetness, an inner self assurance, something I especially notice a few minutes later when we are surrounded by the street boys. Kevin leads us into the gates of the WTF drop in center, a place where street boys from the neighboring slum come to hang out for a few hours a day. The center is specifically only open for a few hours each day, so that the boys don’t heavily depend on the the sparse services provided: counseling, prayer, and a cup of porridge. We see the boys slowly start to arrive. The contrast between their appearance, and that of Kevin, is stark. While Kevin is wearing clean clothing and looks healthy, many of the boys have glazed eyes, are in tattered and torn clothing, with mismatching shoes and some of them no shoes at all. They gather in a circle around Chris, who runs the center. He is a social worker on a 1-year contract.

The starting prayer begins, and all the boys close their eyes, the first time I see some sort of relief on their faces. While all of them are over 12 years old, in this moment, they look like the children they truly are: young, vulnerable, innocent. Their lives have been rough, the streets are unforgiving. Chris later tells me that many of them sniff glue, a quick and cheap way to get high, and forget their troubles. But here, in the moment of prayer, they are relaxed. They are safe from the streets, a moment in their day when they feel that someone cares about their wellbeing.


In a couple of hours, the center will close for the day. They do this because the ultimate goal is to encourage each boy to move into the Boys Ranch. Nestled in the outskirts of Nakuru, about 30 minutes from the drop in center, the Boys ranch is a haven for these street boys who are looking for a second chance. These boys often leave their homes and end up on the streets out of desperation – they come from a background of extreme poverty. There is usually not enough food on the table, or enough money to send them to school. Fueled by depression, their parents often turn to alcohol abuse, drug use, or prostitution, creating unstable, often violent environments. After living on the streets for some time, the boys are at risk of falling into gang activity, drug use, and trafficking. But in order to come to the Boys Ranch, they must take the initiative. They must want to change, they must realize their potential. The drop in center helps them do this, through the counseling offered, and also through visits by former street boys such as Kevin, who come to give first hand accounts of life on the ranch.

The Boys Ranch was created by WTF, or Welcome to the Family, a children’s organization run by a Catholic ministry. The organization is composed of three crucial centers: the drop in center for boys, which is the first point of contact, after which they decide, on their own will, to enter the rehabilitation ranch for boys. In addition, the organization has a girl’s rescue center for girls who have been sexually abused, where the girls receive psychological support, safe shelter, and even legal counseling, while their cases are taken to court. The importance of the center to the community is clearly visible when you take into account that the there are no other social services in place to address these issues. The protocol in fact is, when a child is seen living in the streets or when a case of abuse is brought to the attention of authorities, the child is placed in a private center such as Welcome to the Family’s. The center receives no economical support from the government, so they are left constantly asking for donations and relying on the goodwill of the community. Eventually, the children are rehabilitated, a process that can take from 1-3 years, and returned to their families or extended family members in their community. What we love about this home is that they make all efforts to keep families together, and actively work with parents on solving their issues and creating more stable home environments.

Screen Shot 2016-08-22 at 4.08.58 PM

The work this center is doing, in providing these children a second shot at life, is critical to disrupting the cycle of extreme poverty that is often the root of the problem. And it’s not easy – it involves supporting these children in more ways than providing shelter. It includes providing psychological support for therapy and rehabilitation, and this means hiring qualified caretakers who are committed to seeing the children through their healing process – they do not want to hire someone who is simply looking for a job, any job. To get the kind of long term commitment these children need, you need to offer employees job security and compensation that is commensurate with their expertise and the incredible support that they can provide the children.

Our Water Bottling Purification Project will help the home do just that – generate enough income so that WTF can pay their staff the salaries they deserve, so the children can get the support and care that they need. Even better, is the way in which the project will impact the surrounding community. When you live in a time and place where 1 Liter of clean water is more expensive than 1 liter of milk, you can understand how this commodification of clean water, a basic human right, is creating challenges for the community. Our project will sell clean water to the community at a much more affordable price – 30 Ksh per Liter as opposed to the average of 50 Ksh (70Ksh in some regions!). In a country where 46% of the population live below the poverty line (source: UNICEF), those extra 20 cents in savings can go a long way.

Screen Shot 2016-07-05 at 4.26.58 PM

What happens when people don’t drink clean water? Well, it depends on just how dirty the water source is. In our case, the borehole at the WTF center has extremely high levels of fluoride. This can cause fluorosis, which mottles teeth and causes them to have a stained appearance, but more seriously, it causes calcification of the bones after long term exposure. Children are especially vulnerable to this effect, and when they drink highly fluoridated water, they develop weak bones during their critical growth period (source: WHO).

The way to remove fluoride from water is by running it through a reverse osmosis treatment plant. The plant itself is rather large, and our supplier, Davis and Shirtliff, are known in the industry for providing high quality equipment. With the right maintenance, the plant can last indefinitely, only requiring the filtration membranes to be changed out every few years, a relatively low cost upkeep.

Screen Shot 2016-07-02 at 4.25.07 PM

So, lets break down the multiple levels of impact this project will have:
1. Generate income for Welcome to the Family through the sale of clean water to the local community. The income will be used to hire and retain highly qualified, long term staff at the multiple WTF centers.
2. Provide the surrounding community with clean water access at an affordable, yet competitive price.
3. Lastly, and most importantly, provide vulnerable children with the psychological support and nurturing environment they need to rebuild their lives, and thrive.

Screen Shot 2016-08-22 at 3.47.03 PM

To donate and be a part of this project, please visit our project page. Every contribution helps, and the only way we get this project going is with your support. As a donor, you’ll receive updates on the project progress, exclusive videos, and photos. By donating to this project, you are creating real, tangible, measurable change. This is not a one-time handout, this is a sustainable project that is empowering children to rebuild their lives, and providing #cleanwaterforall

Jacqueline Herrera
Co-founder and Director

We Honor Earth Day Today and All Year Round

Today is Earth Day, a day to open up some very important conversations regarding the responsibilities and commitments we all have to take on, for the future of our planet. From solar panels to aquaponics, we are working to make sure that our projects not only help children, but help care for planet Earth.


In Honduras, we have an aquaponics project. Aquaponics is a sustainable food system, which uses traditional aquaculture (the raising of fish) in combination with hydroponics (raising plants in water). By raising tilapia in a symbiotic environment that also grows vegetables in the water, a complete sustainable ecosystem is formed… as the farm breeds tilapia while the veggies grow in the surrounding pond, and the pond then fertilizes the farm. And aquaponics uses only a fraction of the water that traditional farming uses! Learn more about how we feed 27 children fish and produce in a sustainable way.

led bulbs good samaritan

In Kenya, we recently replaced over 40 traditional light bulbs with LED bulbs. Did you know that by simply switching to LED bulbs, you can save over 90% of a current energy bill. LED bulbs also last 20 times longer than normal light bulbs, which means less waste and less pollution from the manufacturing, packaging and shipping of light bulbs. In addition to helping the environment, this project also saves money, on energy bills which goes towards the improving the quality of life for 70 children. Find out how these eco-friendly lightbulbs are changing lives.

watoto planting

Also in Kenya, we have two greenhouse projects and have another in the works. Greenhouses are a great way to grow plants all year round, without using electrical heat. By growing your own vegetables, you cut down on the pollution caused by transporting produce to supermarkets. Also, by not using harmful, polluting chemicals, we can keep feeding children without harming Mother Earth. Check out our latest greenhouse project.

wendesday fiwagoh

We will continue to create sustainable projects and to honor our mission of caring for the environment, while working to improve lives around the world. How are you going to go green today?


Changing Lives One LED Lightbulb at a Time

By: Jacqueline Herrera, Co-founder and Director


A while back, I wrote about how excited we were about our partnership with Engineers without Borders, an organization comprised of professional engineers who provide low cost or pro bono services to organizations doing development in the field.
Since we take on some really diverse, and often fascinating projects (aquaponics farms, greenhouses, water purification, etc.), I knew that we would immensely benefit from having an expert weigh in and give us feedback.

Photo: EWB Australia

Photo: EWB Australia

When you are dealing with different vendors across the world, jumping through language barriers, time zones, foreign currencies, and cultural practices, developing a project can get super complicated, super fast. One day we have to know everything about the life cycle of Tilapia, and the next day calculate how fast we can get six greenhouses to provide a daily serving of fruits and vegetables to over 200 children at a partner home. And let’s not even get started on calculating the energy use of a partner home in watts, and dividing that by the hours per day and multiplying it by the cost of kw/h…I lost myself there too!
This is where EWB comes in – we have a dedicated engineer who is able to provide us feedback and guidance on everything from the most trusted vendors in the field, to making sure we are considering all aspects of a project before we sign any contracts, to even helping us decide whether the project should exist at all.

Soweto Slums

Soweto Slums

Our latest foray in development was a solar panel installation at the Good Samaritan Children’s Home, located in the Soweto slums of Nairobi.  The home provides refuge to over 70 children, most whom are babies that were abandoned in the slums. With nowhere else to go, and not enough support from the government’s social services department, the home is crucial to these infants’ survival. Babies are expensive – as I learned recently when I became a mother to my 11-month old daughter – so we brainstormed a way to eliminate some costs for the home so that they would not be under financial strain and could divert what funding they have to hire a social worker, who could facilitate the adoption of some of the infants. Energy was a big cost in the home, so we immediately thought a solar panel installation would work. The home had a large open roof and we began the process of researching solar panel vendors and partners in Nairobi. The cost was upwards of $8,000, which seemed about the right price range. We then asked our engineer to look over the proposal and give us the OK or make suggestions. Instead, he told us something very different, and very exciting.

Our energy use calculations

Our energy use calculations

After looking at the energy use of the home, (which was done by compiling a table of all light bulbs, all appliances, their wattage, hours used per day, etc.), he realized that we could actually almost eliminate the energy cost of the home by simply switching to LED light bulbs – something that would cost about $500 USD. Replacing the bulbs will reduce an estimated 90% of the current energy bills, and save us over $7500 for a project that simply was not necessary.
Solar energy is important and it has its time and place, but the systems are also expensive, complex, and can be high maintenance, which is why we have moved ahead with replacing over 40 bulbs at the home, rewiring the electrical system to support this change, and providing backup bulbs for replacement. Now comes the monitoring part, which we’ll do for one year – monitoring the cost saved and how the home is able to use the funding saved to fund more important aspects of their mission – such as providing love, care, nutrition, and even reunification with families to their children.

With one of the infants at the Good Samaritan Home

With one of the infants at the Good Samaritan Home

We remain grateful and fascinated by all that we learn through our projects, and all the time and guidance that our pro-bono volunteers and partners are willing to give, to make the world a better place for all. Whether you are giving your time, your money, or your knowledge, there is so much you can do to be a part of our mission. Learn more here. And I highly recommend you replace your lightbulbs to LED!

The Heart of the Matter: The Plight of Child Marriages

Valentine’s Day just passed, but few of us ever take the time to be grateful that we’re in a relationship of our choosing, or are single- even if we wish that was different. Why? Because in many parts of the world, your spouse and life is determined for you.


Photo Credit: Stephanie Sinclair for National Geographic. A 14 year old mother in Yemen bathes her infant child alongside her two-year old daughter. The mother was still experiencing physical complications for giving birth, but is without access to education or health services.

Being married before the age of 18 is the fate for 1 in 3 girls in low- and middle-income countries. Every day, around 39,000 girls are forced into child marriages. If the state of these affairs continue, by 2050 another 1.2 billion girls will be the victims of these forced marriages. There are serious economic, emotional and health consequences from this normalized cultural institution. These young girl’s  lives and the lives of their children are at risk due to the pregnancies that occur far too early in life. These early marriages are a violation of human rights, which undermines the development of the countries in which they occur. Education is the key to advancement, on the individual level, as well as on the global stage. Girls lacking education are 3 times more likely to be married than their peers with a secondary or higher education, according to the NGO Girls, Not Brides.


Photo Credit: Tony Karumba/AFP/Getty Images. Schoolgirls in Kilifi, Kenya.

There are major  health risks involved for these children, given the sexual nature of these marriages and their underdeveloped bodies. Among the perils facing these girls are obstetric fistulas, which can leave them incontinent and thus often they become social pariahs, as well as the hazards involved with teen pregnancy and sexual abuse, which are especially threatening in countries with little health and psychological resources available. In fact, globally, the second leading cause of death for girls aged 15-19 is attributed to the complications associated with childbirth and pregnancy, according to the World Health Organization. And it’s important to note that 9 out of these 10 births occur within the confines of marriage.


Photo Credit: Graham Crouch | Girls Not Brides

Compounding the emotional and health issues of early motherhood is the very serious problem of financial inequality. Girls born into poverty are twice as likely to be married before 18 than their wealthier counterparts. One driving force behind this epidemic is that poor families can alleviate the financial burden of caring for a daughter by having her married off. In addition, the dowry of marriages can help these families with immediate financial needs. Besides being more likely to be married as a child, these girls are more likely to stay in poverty due to their early marital vows. Since these girls are not allowed to continue their education, the cycle of poverty continues for them and their families.

The organization KAFA Violence and Exploitation released a video over Valentine’s Day, which has subsequently gone viral. It depicts a disturbing, and yet all too common image, of a 12 year old child being married off to a much older man. Fortunately, the video is staged for the purpose of drawing attention to this frequent scenario. The organization is trying to draw attention to this issue, especially in the country of Lebanon, as part of its UN supported initiative to stop child marriages. The video has already been viewed close to 2 million times and exposure like this helps bring this issue into the mainstream conversation.


Photo Credit: Jessica Lea/U.K. Department for International Development/Flickr.

So take heart, because hope is not lost. As more people stand up for themselves and as the world gets more educated on this issue, things are changing for the better. Loveness Mudzuru and Ruvimbo Tsopodzi, two teenagers from Zimbabwe just recently won a landmark court case against their own country on account of their own child marriages. On January 20, 2016, the courts ruled in favor of the girls and made it illegal for anyone in Zimbabwe to enter into marriage before the age of 18. As inspiring people like Murzuru and Tsopodzi take a stand for themselves, their children and their future, they lift up the world and remind us that things can, and should be, different.











The Kids of Ashirvad Home

79 children living in Tuni, India call Ashirvad “home”. There are many reasons why these children have come to live here, but often it is because their families cannot support them with the resources available to them. We have implemented a social worker at the home to help integrate children back into the community and encourage the reunification with families whenever possible. This process can be long and complex, though, so we feel it is also our mission to help these kids while they are living at Ashirvad Home. That’s why we setup our sustainable chicken farm project, which generates profits that go towards the nutrition and education of these children. 

Seeking Refuge: Children of the Crisis

by Jacqueline Monet, Social Media Marketing Manager


It’s difficult to imagine circumstances being so atrocious in your own country that you would risk everything to flee into the unknown. Harder still is to imagine doing that on your own as a child. The numbers are difficult to come by, but at least 24,000 unaccompanied children applied for asylum in the EU last year. These children are among the most vulnerable to trafficking, slavery and other horrific fates. The UK just announced that it will do more to help these children, but it will not be opening its doors to 3,000 unaccompanied children, as Save the Children proposed. Instead, the UK will be giving £10m to help these vulnerable children who have already traversed into Europe.


Photo: BBC News

Unaccompanied children who have family members in the UK will be allowed in and reunited with their family, while the future for the other thousands of vulnerable children remains uncertain. There has been a push to make fostering children easier in countries like Britain, but so far it remains a complicated and difficult situation. Children’s homes have been filling up faster than accommodations can be made for the incoming children, who arrive from as far as Turkey to Germany. The resources, help and organization to facilitate proper care and possibly adoptions is simply not in place.


Photo: Nish Nalbandian, NPR: “Two Syrian girls color at Bayti orphanage in Reyhanli, Turkey, just across the border from Syria. Many young Syrian refugees have lost one or both parents, but space is limited at orphanages in the city.”

Despite the hardships of the world, life carries on. Babies are being born in the midst of the crisis to Syrian refugee parents in Europe. These children are at great peril of being stateless, as many EU countries do not implement the UN convention of automatically granting nationality to children born in their country. These children are often not eligible for Syrian citizenship, either, as only fathers can pass on citizenship to children, according to Syrian law. Being stateless can have disastrous consequences for these children as they grow up. Without citizenship, people can often not legally work, get married, own property, vote and participate in other facets of adult life.


Photo: Bilal Hussein, The Associated Press: “A Syrian family sit outside their tent, at a Syrian refugee camp, in the eastern town of Kab Elias, Lebanon.”

We are now witnessing the largest number of refugee children since World War II. Over 4 million people have left Syria to seek refuge in nearby countries and over half of those people are children, alone or with families. It’s a confusing and scary time to be witness to this crisis and far worse to be experiencing it. News is just breaking that Sweden will be expelling as many as 80,000 refugees from its country. To protect these children caught up in the chaos, we need to work together to support refugee families with proper housing and education, find a way to keep records of all refugee children and supporting the children’s homes that are currently providing assistance. We can also petition our governments to grant exemptions in order to speed up the foster care and adoption process, in order to provide immediate care for these children. Supporting organizations like Save the Children, who are on the ground and working towards these goals is a great first step: http://goo.gl/tKNHmQ.



Adopting the Right Questions: Understanding Orphans in India

by Jacqueline Monet, Social Media Manager


According the the Washington Post, there are over 30 million orphaned children in India and last year, only 2,500 were adopted. As someone who works for an organization that transforms living conditions for orphaned and vulnerable children and has partner homes in India, I can’t help but ask, why?


Ashirvad Home Tuni, India


Our liaison in India, Shobha, recently wrote to us after meeting with the District Officer of Social Welfare in Chennai. Contrary to what many people believe, the majority of children living in orphanages have one or both living parents. They are often placed in orphanages due to poverty, stigma, abuse, and other difficult situations. Shobha relayed that the Indian government verifies that each  family that sends a child to an orphanage lacks the resources to adequately support their child. Most of the orphanages are run by private organizations, under the jurisdiction of the government. Unfortunately, though, it makes it difficult to get these children proper care “because no one can question our government,” according to Shobha.


LAMP Home Rajamundry, India


Would it be better to give aid to the families of children who have no other recourse but to place their children in homes? Is that how the Indian government should allocate its funding, over building institutions? It’s a complicated question about a complex situation. Regardless of what might be the best course of action, how do you account for the millions of children in India living in orphanages and the comparatively miniscule amount of adoptions? In my own personal research, it was hard to come to a conclusive answer as to why it is so difficult to adopt a child from India.

Screen Shot 2016-01-17 at 10.41.45 PM

Adoptions in India are complicated. Families in India are often under more pressure to adopt children who are aligned with their ethnicity, religion and social status. According to Shobha, families often get involved in the adoption process and end up stalling or halting it through concerns of how the child was born, to whom and into which caste. While the caste system is outlawed in India, the legislation is so poorly implemented that it barely makes a difference. Other considerations like the color of their child’s skin and health conditions also are major factors. As such, many children are virtually unadoptable, especially if they have a disability or a health issue.

Even when adoptions happen within India, they remain a long, arduous process that usually takes between 3 and 4 years. Since it is such a difficult process, the illegal adoption market is a huge problem in India. This has resulted in more missing children and less children going to eligible adoption agencies. There are even more additional cultural reasons that need to be taken into consideration, as well. For example, adoptions by Indian citizens who are Hindus, Sikhs, Jains or Buddhists are governed by the Hindu Adoption and Maintenance Act of 1956, which prohibits the adoption of more than one child of the same sex.


Ziah Home Hyderabad, India


For those looking to adopt from other countries, such as the US, the process remains challenging. It’s  very difficult for Americans to adopt Indian children, despite the fact that the U.S. adopts more children internationally and domestically, as the rest of the world combined, according Adam Pertman, author of “Adoption Nation.” Indian authorities first have to determine that the child would be better placed outside of India. The Indian government prioritizes finding suitable Indian parents for adoption over foreign adoptions. Often this means that only disabled and/or older children are eligible for outside adoptions. In addition, certain parameters exclude would-be parents, for example, same-sex couples are not eligible to adopt Indian children.

Meanwhile, the foster care system in India largely remains a mystery to me, due to the lack of information found online. Shobha found that foster care in India is very limited to specific situations, such as a trial period for parents considering adopting a given child. There are alternatives to the traditional orphanage system, however. Shobha was taken by our partner home, Christ Faith Home, to visit an organization where there are women living with their children. These women have been left by their husbands, widowed or have found themselves in another desperate situation of some kind. The home was setup into apartments, with nearly 30 women residing there. The women are able to keep their children and are even learning skills so that they can enter the workforce, like tailoring.


Source: Christ Faith Home Chennai, India


Christ Faith Home recently welcomed two infants into their home. The police brought both babies to them, after one was given to the police and the other was abandoned on a train. “The babies were so cute looking, seeing them I was broken,” said Shobha. She is continuing to visit orphanages and to research their major challenges. Kitechild works to support communities and provide the best lives for children, wherever they might find themselves within the complexity of poverty. It is our job to better the lives of vulnerable children and to care for them, whatever their circumstances might be, and the best way we can do that is through understanding and compassion.