Rescuing Orphans and Vulnerable Children

Help the world’s most vulnerable boys and girls.

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As Catholics, our hearts break for all children who have been orphaned, abandoned or abused, and we are doubly concerned for those who are facing a life of extreme poverty. In developing countries, for example, orphans who have lost one or both parents are in special need of love, guidance and mentoring. But vulnerable children in general – whether they are orphans or not, are at great risk because they may lack even life’s most basic necessities – food, safe water and a simple, safe shelter at night. With your support, Cross Catholic Outreach is empowering local Catholic ministries to provide these precious children with the material, emotional and spiritual nurturing they so desperately need.

Every 18 seconds, another child becomes an orphan.

Orphaned children are not just the 147 million children around the world who have lost parents to AIDS, famine, war and other tragedies. They are also the countless boys and girls who suffer extreme parental rejection and neglect. In fact, such children tend to be even more fragile because they live in fear their parents will never love or support them. As Catholics, we have a duty to reach out to these little ones with love, material aid and the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Quick Facts

Worldwide, there are 140 million orphans.

95% of all orphans are over the age of 5.

61 million orphans are in Asia and 52 million orphans are in Africa.

Double orphans (who have lost both parents) make up 15.1 million of all orphans.

10 million orphans are in Latin America and the Caribbean

7.3 million orphans in Eastern Europe and Central Asia.

HIV/AIDS has orphaned 14.9 million children.

Holistic care for vulnerable children includes ministering to their basic needs as well as providing professional counseling and spiritual formation.

The Problem

Loss of One of More Parents

It was once thought that a child had to lose both parents to qualify as an orphan. However, in the mid-1990s as the AIDS pandemic began leading to the death of millions of parents worldwide, humanitarian organizations led a move to broaden the concept of the orphan. Today, we accept the concept of a “single orphan” — the loss of one parent — and a “double orphan” — the loss of both parents — to convey the growing number of children in need of a new family, shelter or care. An orphan is no longer a parentless child in need of adoption. An orphan is a child who has lost either one or both parents and who is in need of assistance and the love of Christ.


The Causes of the Orphan Crisis



HIV and AIDS have exacted a terrible toll on children and their families. As of 2018, roughly 14.9 million children under the age of 18 have lost one or both parents to AIDS. More than 80% of these children live in sub-Saharan Africa. In addition, 2.8 million children age 19-and-under are living with HIV, heightening the risk of poverty, homelessness, school dropout, discrimination and loss of opportunities.


Many single parents living in poverty are unable to care for their children. They cannot afford food, clothing, shelter, healthcare or education, which leads some to place their children in orphanages in the hopes they will have a better life there. However, it has been found that institutional orphanages can have many adverse effects on a child. As a solution to this problem, the Church has stepped in to provide healthy Christian-based home environments for at-risk orphans and vulnerable children.

Political unrest and government corruption

Corruption sustains the orphan crisis in many terrible ways, be it through corrupt government officials or individuals or unscrupulous adoption agencies that profit from the trafficking of vulnerable children. Countries that suffer from domestic unrest as a result of corruption often close their borders to inter-country intervention, making it nearly impossible for orphaned children to receive the life-giving care they desperately need.


War contributes to the orphan crisis in two major ways. First, many children lose their parents in the physical act of war, be it directly when soldiers are killed in combat, or indirectly when innocent civilians are killed in an act of warfare. Second, countries torn apart by war – especially developing nations – are often paralyzed in their efforts to care for orphans. In this way, the orphan crisis is created and perpetuated by war.

Around the developing world, Catholic orphanages, schools and boarding homes care for children with the greatest needs.

The Church

Providing Lasting Hope

Cross Catholic Outreach demonstrates God’s love and compassion through projects administered by our local ministry partners, who care for orphans and vulnerable children throughout their communities. We currently work with 11 partners in 8 countries, remaining focused on the Lord, serving with humility and spreading the hope and love of the Catholic faith.

Rescue Children from the Clutches of Poverty

God is grieved by the tears of orphans, and today, he is calling on us to wipe away those tears. Through your gift, these precious children will be nurtured both physically and spiritually by compassionate Catholics who treasure them as sons and daughters of God, created in his image. Don’t wait a day longer to answer the children’s cries! They need food, clothes, medicine and safe shelter, and they need to see that, despite their humble pasts, they are valued in God’s sight.

Your Gift Will Change Lives

Cross Catholic Outreach partners with Catholic ministries around the world that are passionate about fulfilling the James 1:27 call to “care for orphans…in their distress.” These ministry partners are intimately acquainted with the needs of their communities, they are excited to tell children about Jesus’ love for them, and they have made many sacrifices to save vulnerable boys and girls from falling through society’s cracks. Your generous support will help meet the most urgent needs of the programs we fund, so that vulnerable boys and girls will be empowered for a brighter future.

Through transformative programs such as St. Vincent de Paul, ACM and St. John Bosco, the Church can be a source of hope in impoverished communities, demonstrating God’s love and revealing his Word to the next generation.

How We Help the Poor

Change Even More Lives

Giving monthly is a small way to have a big impact. Your regular support empowers our ministry to respond to urgent needs and fulfill our long-term projects across the world.

Become a monthly donor today and experience the joy of impacting lives every month.

How many orphans are there in the world in 2019?

UNICEF statistics state that there are 140 million orphans worldwide — 15.1 million have lost both parents.

Why are there so many orphans and vulnerable children in the world?

First of all, children can become orphans through obvious circumstances. War, disease, poverty, natural disasters, abandonment and accidents are among the leading causes. Children can also become orphans as a result of family, social and political circumstances. Child neglect, abuse, child slavery, religious inequity, child prostitution, indentured servitude — all of these circumstances are more closely associated with children who lack parental care than with children whose parents have died. Nevertheless, they are added to the statistics.

How can we help orphans and vulnerable children?

You can help orphans and vulnerable children by supporting the work of Catholic parishes and missions that are doing tremendous work rescuing them from hunger, homelessness and despair.

What do orphanages need?

Cross Catholic Outreach is often offered free medical supplies, food, clothing, hygiene products, school supplies, furniture and other valuable goods as in-kind donations from companies, churches, organizations and civic groups. Unfortunately, shipping such goods internationally can be costly, so in order to accept donated goods, Cross Catholic must have a financial fund available to cover the costs. You can help orphanages by contributing to our General Shipping Fund. You’ll be making a wise and cost-effective investment on behalf of the poor and the Church leaders serving in their communities.

What can you donate to orphanages?

Due to international restrictions placed on material goods, cash donations are the best way to improve the plight of the world’s most vulnerable children. Cross Catholic Outreach currently works with 11 partners around the world, providing children with material, emotional and spiritual care.

Donations from this campaign will be used to cover any expenditures incurred through June 30, 2024, the close of our ministry’s fiscal year. In the event that more funds are raised than needed to fully fund the project, the excess funds, if any, will be used to meet the most urgent needs of the ministry.