Leading a volunteering team, I've been to an orphanage where the sister (who did a psychology course) running the orphanage was strict that volunteers should spend a minimum of 3 months teaching the kids on the weekends if they wanted to, because kids develop an attachment to the visitors. Another NGO insists that volunteers pledge a minimum of one year if they wish to mentor a child.
At another orphanage which is frequented by volunteers of many companies, a worker there said that the kids were accustomed to seeing strangers everyday. Girls at an orphanage in Delhi told my friend (head of an orphanage in Bangalore) that they don't like it when (well-meaning) visitors arrive and ask them to stand in front of them and narrate a poem or sing a song for them.
As a volunteering leader, I encourage people to contribute to society meaningfully. I want to know what the best psychological/emotional effect we can have on the children. Would it be bad for the children in the long-run, to see strangers come to conduct events for them where they sing and dance, distribute snacks and gifts and then the kids never get to see these people again. People from various companies visit these kids. Is it better to not conduct such events, and instead ensure that volunteers visit these kids weekly/monthly, find out what their needs are, become familiar with the kids and help them in whatever way possible?
The problem here, is that a lot of volunteers see what other companies are doing, and are more interested in conducting a grand event at orphanages/old-age-homes, donate money or gifts and then walk away. They say they don't have the time for multiple visits.
- Should I discourage people to do this? (a friend described it as being similar to visiting a zoo)
- Shouldn't they spend more time with the children/senior-citizens? Empathy and understanding.
- Won't it just reinforce the kids/senior-citizen's belief that nobody really cares about them?
- Is there any research done on the psychological/emotional effect this has?