We are aware of the dangers of voluntourism and of how some initiatives can be detrimental in contributing to sustaining an institutionalised environment.  We want to be clear that this is not something Helping Hanna’s Community represents. 

Hanna Orphan’s Home (HOH) is run like a community; the aim is to keep children within the family home wherever possible. For example, some of the children whose parents have died, will only stay at HOH until another family member is old enough to take over their care, and where appropriate siblings are kept together within the homes. There is a strong community base to the project, with all the children attending local schools and socialising with children within the wider.

The children are housed in small self-sustaining houses rather than in an institutionalised setting. A large number of the children are now/have been at university, or going into full time work as integrated members of the community.  This sustainability aspect of the project is part of the success, so much so that the numbers of children housed has significantly decreased from when we started.

Helping Hanna’s Community responds to the needs of Hanna Orphan’s Home. We operate a summer school programme in partnership with Bayes Business School, set up to assist the children who are transitioning from being taught in Amharic (their native language) to English from one school year to the next. In school, they are taught by rote learning, but the experiential nature of the summer programme allows them to practice their English language skills and increase their confidence and learn other skills taught by the volunteers.

The Children and staff at HOH have found this extremely beneficial and ask us to return on a yearly basis.

Through this we are not replacing any roles that are filled within the community. HOH has a team of counsellors, support workers and social workers who explain what the purpose of our visits are to the children. The children are now accustomed to our visits, which are always supervised and the children are briefed on how long we will be with them. Volunteers are all DBS checked, we have a strict policy on child protection, and we carry out necessary training. 

The cost of the trip is sponsored, which means that 99% of the donations received goes directly to the HOH. Everyone who works for the charity are themselves volunteers and therefore there are very few overheads. The charity only responds to the needs of the orphanage and any purchases are made locally within Ethiopia, so that money is not taken away from the local economy.