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We started off being part of the problem, but changed everything when we learned the truth. Now, we are part of the solution!

“They are really orphans,” David Servant was told while visiting Myanmar to conduct a pastor’s conference in 2002. The founder of Heaven’s Family, David had just been introduced to an orphanage with about 50 children. Seeing their needs, he knew he needed to do something to help them, so when he returned home, he started the Orphan’s Tear Ministry.

We set up a website and started a child sponsorship program, and it took off. Within a few years, we had about a thousand children sponsored in nine countries. We built numerous orphanage campuses and dorms. We bought them rice paddies, oxen, chickens, pigs, and helped some entrepreneurial orphanage directors to fund businesses. All kinds of things to help them sustain themselves.

But the more we got involved, the more we began to realize that these children weren’t orphans. We discovered that most of these children had one or two living parents. So, we began to investigate where these children were coming from and why they were winding up at orphanages.

Where “Orphans” Come From

Picture of mountains of Myanmar where Orphan's Tear works

We learned the children were coming from the most impoverished regions of each country in which we worked. Often cut off from the modern world by mountains. Places without access to electricity, running water, medicine or schools. The parents in these impoverished areas naturally wanted the best for their kids, and believed that sending them to an orphanage in a large city—where they can get an education, medical care, and adequate food—was the best thing they could do for their children.

The Reality of Orphanages

Around this time, through a God-ordained meeting, we were introduced to Mick Pease, former UK social worker and founder of SFAC, an organization that advocates around the world for children to be in families. Through his training, we learned that orphanages are often the worst places for children.

Graphic - Development IssuesDevelopment Issues

Children living in orphanages are at greater risk for long-term negative impact on their social, emotional, and cognitive development and often have pervasive growth problems, including stunting, and impairments in fine and gross motor skills and coordination.

Graphic - Unprepared for LifeUnprepared for life

Orphanage-raised children are frequently unprepared for independent life, which often results in unemployment, homelessness, conflict with the law, sexual exploitation, poor relationships, and poor parenting of their own children.

Graphic - Lack of loveLack of love, support and nurture

Being separated from their parents causes children to be traumatized and damages their identity and self-esteem. Children often do not receive the consistent attention and nurture they need to develop due to the lack of responsive caregivers.

Graphic - Risk of abuseRisk of abuse and exploitation

Research has shown that children are more likely to be abused and exploited in orphanages.

As we continued to dig deeper we uncovered widespread exploitation of the children. We uncovered a host of dark practices, including orphanages started only for profit, coercive agreements that effectively incarcerated children unless their parents paid large sums of money to get them back, forced labor, statutory rape, child recruitment from desperately impoverished parents, often done under the guise of religion, and human trafficking. We discovered that there was an entire “orphan industry” that profited from the exploitation of children from impoverished families, and that often it was Christian and humanitarian organizations that were funding it.

The Radical Change

After learning all this, we knew that we could not continue supporting the orphanage system because they were doing much more harm than good.

Picture of mother and daughter reunited

So, we changed everything so as to become the ministry we are today. We believe that children belong in families. We focus on strengthening families and communities so that children can stay where they belong, returning children to safe and loving families, and exposing the “orphan industry” that exploits and abuses children.

Learn more about how we do this

Prevention

Picture of reunified family

Strengthening families and communities so that children can stay where they belong.

Reunification

Picture of boy with his family

Strengthening families and communities so that children can stay where they belong.

Awareness

child-reunification-training

Strengthening families and communities so that children can stay where they belong.