Resource Title

Just Care: Just Volunteering


‘Just Care: Just Volunteering – Exploring the impact of volunteering in orphanages and institutional care on the lives of vulnerable children’ is a youth work resource that uses an informal approach through human rights education to explore the impact of volunteering in orphanages and institutional care on the lives of vulnerable children.

Resource Details

  • Author: Emma Lynch, Elaine Mahon, Sandra Byrne, Katie Lynch, Lydia Monds, Kevin Murphy and Gerry O’Donoghue and Fiachra Brennan
  • Publisher: Tearfund Ireland
  • Country of Publication: Ireland
  • Year: 2021
  • ISBN: 978-1-9196035-0-6
  • Page Count: 64


The idea of “giving back” or ‘making a difference’ by volunteering overseas is well known in Ireland. Many individuals and communities  have either volunteered overseas or know someone who has. Volunteering in orphanages has been popular with many travellers; spending time caring for, or teaching children living in residential care.

Good intentions are not enough. Research such as the 2019 Children First report by Comhlámh shows that:

  • volunteering in orphanages fuels systems that separate children from their families, harms their development and increases the risk of them being abused.
  • even well run, well-resourced, orphanages with staff that care about the children cannot replace the care and stability of family-based care in the community.

The purpose of the ‘Just Care’ resource is to:

  • provide the opportunity for groups to explore and reflect on this practice using a Development Education approach and using a human rights approach to children’s rights (including using United Nations Convention on the
    Rights of the Child (UNCRC)
  • present 16 activities-on-demand: Start with activity one and work your way through the pack or pick and choose from the 16+ interactive activities according to the interests of your group or the time and resources available.
  • explore key issues such as vetting volunteers, attachment issues, the orphanage industry and practice in Ireland.
  • support facilitators and education leaders directly with worksheets, debrief exercises, a detailed glossary of terms in the debates (such as alternative care, attachment, institutional care, White Saviour and more) and facilitator guidance notes.
  • to use a mix of online and offline interactive tools, such as Jamboards, quizzes (Kahoot), Mentimetre and more.

Tearfund Ireland and members of the Comhlámh Orphanage Working Group are seeking to raise awareness in Ireland about the harm caused by volunteering in orphanages. The purpose of this resource is to provide
the opportunity for groups to explore and reflect on this practice.


Section 1 What’s It All About?

Activity 1: Globingo

Activity 2: Map of Me

Activity 3: Word Cloud

Activity 4: the Right(s) Childhood?

Activity 5: Myths and Facts

Activity 6: A Caring timeline

Section 2 Going Deeper

Activity 7: the Big Quiz

Activity 8: Bound together?

Activity 9: An orphanage is..

Activity 10: Who am I?

Activity 11: tower tumble

Activity 12: the sustainable Development Goals (sDG) Web of Connection 41

Activity 13: Map of You

Section 3 Action and Redirection

Activity 14 : Map of Us

Activity 15: Alternative Care for Alternative Futures

Activity 16: Change-Makers

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