Today, Richard and I visited an orphanage about 15 mins drive from our house. We went there hoping to volunteer our time. Unfortunately, I got the impression that they would prefer it if we donated money instead.
The place is run by one lady (with a couple of helpers) and there are 60 children there ranging from 3-17 yrs. It was basically a very big house with 4 medium sized rooms, large hall and kitchen. There were only around 10 children there when we visited as the rest were in school. It seems to be more of a shelter instead of an orphanage because none of the kids are ever adopted. Even if people wanted to adopt them, this lady doesn't allow it. I don't have any photos to share because it felt too awkward to take any.
My impression of the place: neat, clean, bare, too small for 60 children, devoid of furniture. Supposedly, the place survives on the lady's daily business of selling garlic in the markets, hiring out some donated wedding furniture and whatever donations they receive. They intentionally don't do any fund raising but hope instead that word will spread of their existence. There must be more to it but we couldn't find out anything else and didn't want to be too nosey.
I have to say that I'm disappointed because I really really wanted to give my time. Yes, money does help them get from day to day and is their top priority. I can understand that but I'm uncomfortable with just giving money because I can't see where it goes. I'll probably end up sending them some rice but what I would really like to do is help them find a way to generate another source of income. Y'know, the whole "Give them a fish and they eat for a day. Teach them to fish and they eat everyday" kind of thing.
Anyway, I'll keep thinking. And looking out for other places that need volunteers.