Indonesia’s orphanage trade: Islamic philanthropy’s good intentions, some not so good outcomes

Helen McLaren, Nismah Qonitah

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)
29 Downloads (Pure)


In 2011, Indonesia commenced an orphanage deinstitutionalization strategy known as the paradigm change in child protection. The strategy responded to human rights protocols emphasizing institutional care of children as the last resort. Orphanage based social workers were trained by the Ministry of Social Affairs (MOSA) to implement the paradigm change, increase parenting capacity and strengthen local supports to enable children’s reunification with their families. The paradigm change intended to reduce children coming into institutional care; however, we found a persistent growth of non-orphaned children being recruited to orphanages since 2011 and more orphanages being built to accommodate them. Islamic philanthropic activities were identified as supporting and contributing growth to the orphanage trade. Despite the paradigm change, social workers were being financially incentivization to recruit children to orphanages. There were no like incentives to deinstitutionalize them. This paper uses selective quotes from the larger study, of social workers interviewed, to assist with theorizing the high potential of Islamic philanthropy in supporting Indonesia’s growing orphan trade. We propose that philanthropy, including where there is good faith and good intentions, may be contributing to some not so good outcomes including trafficking and modern-day slavery.
Original languageEnglish
Article number1
Number of pages12
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2020

Bibliographical note

© 2019 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland. This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license (


  • Indonesia
  • orphanage
  • institutional care
  • social work
  • child protection
  • Islamic philanthropy
  • trafficking
  • modern-day slavery
  • Child protection
  • Trafficking
  • Social work
  • Orphanage
  • Incentivization
  • Institutional care


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