Defining the orphaned children problem in India
The very deﬁnition of an orphan is: A child whose parents are dead. This would be deﬁned as a “full orphan” in India. However, to my surprise, I’ve found that many children who are not “full orphans” end up in the orphanages as well. There are children who are labeled “semi- orphans” and even some children who live in an orphanage have both parents.
It was incredibly confusing in the beginning, not fully understanding the native culture. Why would you take in children who still have parents? At home, in our westernized minds, we may believe that doesn’t make since. The answer to this goes back to the severe poverty the majority of the people in India suffer. For example, if a woman’s husband dies, it is the custom that she should NOT remarry.
This woman could potentially be widowed at a very young age, not permitted to remarry, and is not educated enough or even at all (many widows can not even read) to get a job to support her family. She then has no other choice but to become a day laborer that makes approximately $2 a day. Many times the children of the widowed woman are then placed in an orphanage because she will not make enough money to feed them, and surely not enough to give them an education. The orphanage is the best solution for them at this time. Otherwise, they could end up in child labor camps, or worse, in the sex trade.
Another part of the orphan system I found peculiar is that some of the children who are taken in have both parents. This could be happening because the man of the house is off in a larger city trying to make a living and the woman is left to care for the children alone, not making the amount of money needed to care for the children properly. In many situations, the man may squander the money he receives on drink, gambling, and women, leaving the children at a severe disadvantage. In other cases, one or both parents are disabled in some way through illness or injury and cannot properly care for their children seeking the orphanage as a safe environment for their children to receive room, board, and education. So who’s to say we should only help the children that are “full orphans.” I have seen the desperation of the parents for their children and I say we help the ones that God brings our way paying no mind if they are full orphan, semi-orphan, or have both parents.Rather, we should receive all who are in a critical situation. If all of these impoverished children do not receive help the cycle of poverty is destined to continue.
The children pictured above are from the orphanage we support.I love them all, they are all special, and they are all worthy of a better