In every country that has ever experienced war or poverty, there has been an influx of orphans. And that doesn't mean necessarily that it's due to the parents being killed. On the contrary. Some of the children below still had/have living parents. But the parent simply couldn't afford them. Or didn't want them. Or were too afraid to keep hold of them for fear of what could happen to them.
Either way, the orphan scene is not a pleasant one in most cases. My father spent part of his childhood in an orphanage. And he used to slip food to the black kids who were locked in closets during mealtime...yeah, that was still happening in Canada back in the 60's. So don't think for a second that the Allied countries get a pass on this one. Every single country that has poverty has a horror story to tell about orphans.
And so this piece has a few pretty extreme examples of orphanages. And while some of the entries are much lighter, and happier than one would first guess, it does still end with the fact that these children have been left without family. Whether because of war, famine, viral outbreaks, money, disability, or a mix of all the above...here are 15 chilling photos of orphanages around the world.
15 The Healthy Global Russian Adoptions And A Chilling Tale
Yeah, of course, they're not actually healthy. That would not be chilling at all. And while the above orphanage looks all brightly coloured, and happy-go-lucky, it is a place where Russian authorities stow away their mentally infirm...or create their mentally infirm. Unwanted children who have developmental issues often find themselves in the orphanage. And those who might once have been socially well-adjusted are both physically and sexually abused to the point where they forget their humanity.
A story of an American couple who adopted two "brothers" almost ended with the adopting parents being murdered by their previously abused children. And it turns out the kids were not brothers at all. The orphanage had lied to the couple and sent them the kids they wanted to get rid of. Americans can no longer adopt Russian children...
14 The Dear Leader's Orphanage...
First and foremost, any place where Kim Jong-Un shows up has got to be a chilling place. No matter what goes on there. The woman you see behind the dictator and to the left appears to be his PR staffer. She's always ready to greet any news casters with a smile and an unbelievable story about the horrible man. What's extra chilling about this photo is that we know everyone is starving in North Korea, and yet you wouldn't necessarily know it here (likely due to the flashy, baggy clothing given to the kids). And it seems as though Jim Jong-Un just couldn't quite control the kid he's holding, and simply opted for covering the kid's face (rather than swapping him out for another one). It seems pretty clear to me that this was just a PR stunt to make the guy look good.
13 The Duplessis Orphans
No, this has nothing to do with the Holocaust, as much as it may seem that way. This little group of children is just a small part of what made up the so-called Duplessis Orphans. About 20, 000 children in the province of Quebec (under the watch of the crackpot premiere, and the crackpot Catholic Church), were committed to mental institutions for financial gain. Psychiatric organizations made more money than orphanages did, so the kids were labelled mentally infirm (instead of just orphans). Of course, these places were run by the Catholic Church. And of course, that meant that there was both physical and sexual abuse on a massive scale. And as you can see from the photo above, in addition to those abuses, there was an incredible amount of starvation. This was in the middle of the 1900's!
12 Mother Teresa's Houses Of The Dying
So, a lot of people think Mother Teresa to be a saintly character. And while she was put on the fast track to become a saint according to the Catholic Church, she was kind of a horrible human being. She made millions upon millions of dollars in her years doing "charity" work. And she did have a slew of orphanages and so-called 'houses of the dying'...but did she spend all of that money (some gotten from real crooks) on either of those organizations? Nope. She spent it all on her nunneries so that she could train more sisters to go around and spread her particular brand of misery. The sickly children, just like the sickly adults in her hospices had very little to live on, and very poor chances to make it out of those buildings in anyway other than a body bag...
11 Soviet Romania
Nearing the end of the Soviet Union, poverty was widespread throughout the satellite countries. Romania being one of them. A common practise with families was to dump the children they couldn't afford to keep into orphanages, and then pick them up again when they were old enough to work. While there, children were frequently tied to their beds (often naked), and they were treated to physical and sexual abuse. Their brain development occurred very slowly in many cases, and as they grew up, they didn't even know how to feed themselves. And the children who managed to grow up without much in the way of disease would then follow the example of the nurses, and prey on the younger children. It was truly an appalling state of affairs. Many of those children now live in the sewers in some parts of the country in slums of hundreds...
10 Cambodian Dental Work
So, don't worry. This isn't an Abu Ghraib situation. These two guys aren't smiling while they torture someone. Well, at least not in the way you might think. This is actually a dental duo doing some great work in Cambodia with children in the orphanages Of course, given the facilities, there is every reason why someone could find this photo chilling. It's not like the child in the photo seems at all at home in the bed. But let's be honest, that's the case with most people when they have to go to see the dentist. All things considered, this is actually a very pleasant picture when it is thought of. Even if you can't escape the chills that go up your spine when thinking about the sound of a dentist's drill. At first glance though, I instantly feel for that poor boy.
9 Ebola Orphans
In places like Monrovia, when Ebola first broke out, treatment centres essentially became orphanages for all intents and purposes. Surprisingly, in many cases, it was the parents and not the children who died at the hands of this horrible outbreak. The girl sitting alone in the above photo is one such example. Both of her parents died of the virus, leaving her so sit, exposed, outside of the treatment centre. Doctors and staff would remain protected from her (as you can see), but it has to be said, sad though it is, that she would not end up being the only child living outside of these areas. Imagine losing your parents to a virus, and being orphaned outside of a treatment centre where the people who might help you even a little are either other children like yourself...or people in rubber pyjamas.
8 Machine Gun Preacher
That's right. The Machine Gun Preacher. If you take a look at this man's tank top, you will notice the letters MGP on it. He seriously goes by the moniker Machine Gun Preacher. And the fact that he's spinning a little orphan around a circle of kids is kind of terrifying. But in spite of the initial impression one might get from a burly, tattooed man seemingly tossing children...this guy is actually a good guy...sort of. This is Sam Childers who, at the behest of God (allegedly), built an orphanage in a very dangerous part of Sudan. A former armed guard for drug dealers, he became an armed guard for Sudanese children. He even led armed missions to rescue children from militia forces. So he's kind of insane, but his type of insanity is better for the orphans of Sudan than the insanity they had been dealing with.
7 Liberian Orphans
During the Liberian civil war, there were many children orphaned in the country. The mid 90's saw a terrible time there. And that was quickly followed up by in-fighting between factions as well in the years to follow. Eventually, peace was made (to some extent), but there was an influx of orphans. Many of whom were undernourished, and without proper protection (as you can tell by this photo). While this is an older photo, these were the conditions in which orphans predominantly lived (schooling in the doorway of a shipping container). And much like other African countries, a new generation of children was orphaned due to the Ebola outbreak. Again, left in the streets, and squalid religious hospices were famine and abuse raged. Now take some time to think about how lucky you are.
6 Orphans Of The Holocaust
You can't get too much more chilling than bringing up the Holocaust...unless you start talking about Winter coming early. There were over 1.5 million children who were murdered during the Holocaust. But make no mistake, there were many children who survived their families. This, of course, left them displaced, and alone in a very big world. The reality of what happened to them makes this a chilling story indeed. And many of those who made it out alive were still subject to torture, beatings, starvation, and more. But there were thousands who found their way to U.N. orphanages in Europe that actually did a surprising job of rehabilitating many of the lost children. So even in the chill of such an atrocity, there is still a little warmth to be found.
5 Orphans Of Genocide
This is sadly not an unusual case. Attempts at Genocide always produce orphans. There is no escaping that fact. The only thing that's at all unusual about the above photo is just how many people don't consider the Ottoman-Turk's genocide of the Armenian people a true genocide. Regardless of what governments will accept the truth of the atrocity, I just can't help but be disgusted at this photo. That many in the suit there? He's a Turkish official. Do you know what he's dangling from his hand? A small piece of bread that he's using to taunt the Armenian children with. And as you can see, most of them are too weak to rise up and really reach for that bread (let alone rise up against that official). Either way, the orphanage that these kids called home was the dirt road on which they sat. Where they slowly decayed. That's a fairly chilling orphanage if you ask me.
4 Happy Home Orphanage In Nepal
Yeah, it's not actually a "happy home". This orphanage was run by a horrible human being who liked to beat on the children with plastic pipes, steal from their families (that's right, because a lot of them weren't actually orphans), and more. And the owner of the Happy Home orphanage made a huge amount of money from the ignorance and naivety of Westerners who liked to go on "voluntourist" adventures. Thinking that they were helping out children in a poor country, they were actually just filling the pockets of the greedy owner. Of course, that specific orphanage ended up being changed around, and the owner was charged with severe child neglect. But that's just one place in a sea of child misery. Surely you can tell that none of these children are very amused.
3 Japanese War Orphans
Yeah, don't think for a second that the Allies haven't been responsible for a great deal of suffering in children. Just think about what happened to the Japanese. Well before the bombs were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japanese-American families were rounded up and put in camps. Don't think abuses and deaths didn't happen there. And after the bombs were dropped, not only were there tons of orphans...but there were also tons of orphans dying of radiation poisoning. In addition to that, children were huddled together with very little food and forced to live in appalling conditions. It's the same story for any war-torn nation. The children all suffer and starve needlessly, while the grown ups play war games. The kids aren't alright.
2 St. Joseph's Orphanage, Australia
So before we even get into the horrors that happened in this little orphanage, I think we all need to agree on something first. This photo, without any context whatsoever, is pretty chilling on its own. I mean, the creepy dolls sitting up on the beds like they're all rising up in some creepy, horror-film-ish way? Chilling. And in addition to that inherent creepiness, this was a place for girls to be stripped of their identities, robbed of their belongings, and turned into sexual objects for the nuns who ran the place. No matter how highly we think of the Allied nations, we all have our darker and disturbing sides. Any gifts the girls here would receive were immediately taken away and sold. And identification the girls once had (while kept on a government register) was made useless in the everyday living of the place.
1 This Guy...
It actually doesn't matter to me so much that this guy is sort of a great, strange, religiously-deluded hero. He is. It is specifically the image of this orphanage that really makes me think twice about his methods. I realize he's trying to make the point that he hasn't been able to save every Sudanese child out there. But it kind of looks like he's imprisoning those children. And given that his tattoos read "Machine Gun Preacher", he seems altogether too comfortable in the middle of a war-torn country with a bunch of kids. As much as this ad is attempting to do good, or promote good...it really sends a creepy and sinister message to me. And it's surely not like this guy hasn't killed people before. So maybe what's terrifying is knowing that this is a guy on a mission from God, with a gun and a bunch of trapped children...