The Best Documentaries About Orphans And Orphanages

Oct 30, 2023 | Best Of, Culture

This is a heartbreaking documentary that shines a light on the lives of children living in orphanages around the world. This film follows the stories of several orphans from across six countries, giving viewers an intimate glimpse into their struggles, hopes, dreams and resilience. From India to Pakistan to Guatemala, each story is unique but equally powerful. Through It’s lens, viewers can see the heartbreaking reality for these children and glean insights about their struggles, as well as their courage and strength. It is a must-see film that will leave viewers with an unforgettable impression of what it means to be an orphan and how we can better support those in need. By watching this documentary, audiences gain a greater understanding of orphans and the issues they face, inspiring us to take action and make a difference in the lives of these children. It is an eye-opening look at life for orphans that will move viewers to act for change.


1. Russia’s Forgotten Orphans

Every year, the amount of families who are unable to have biological children increases across the globe. In Russia, this number is especially profound – nearly 500,000 orphans remain in search of adoptive homes. Adoption isn’t as popular an option in Russia as it is in other countries, leaving international adoption as the only viable choice for these children.


2. Rejected: Ukraine’s Unwanted Children

This is a documentary that follows the heartbreaking stories of children in Ukraine. For too many, these children have been abandoned and rejected by society due to their economic status, health condition, or simply being orphaned. This film captures the reality of what it means to be an unwanted child in Ukraine and shows how dedicated citizens are working hard to provide better opportunities for them.


3. Orphans of Nkandla

Mbali is a young girl who has taken on an incredible level of responsibility since the passing of her mother to AIDS four months ago. She is only 11-years-old, but she cares for her father who is desperately ill and looks after her 7-year-old brother without complaint. Her face shows the strain of this challenge, but still she goes to school and makes sure the home is taken care of each day. Her maturity in the face of such tragedy is remarkable, but it also serves to remind viewers that this burden should not be placed on a child so young. This powerful documentary follows Mbali’s story and those like her who are struggling to keep their families together whilst facing unimaginable odds.


4. Covid Orphans

The Covid-19 pandemic has had devastating consequences on India, especially during its second wave which swept through the subcontinent in Spring 2021. It is estimated that the virus left behind more than 100,000 children without parents or guardians – a tragedy that many of us have difficulty comprehending. Mahabuba is a film that brings to light stories of orphans and orphanages in India, illuminating the life and experiences of those affected by the pandemic. The film follows a group of individuals as they explore what it is like to be an orphan in a country where many are left behind without parental or guardian care. Through interviews with survivors and local charities.


5. Inside Cambodia’s Fake Orphan Scam

This is a documentary focusing on the hidden realities of Cambodia’s fake orphan scam. The film exposes how children are being exploited to appeal to western tourists looking to donate money and volunteer in orphanages, without realizing that the majority of these facilities are not legally registered institutions and do not actually house orphans. It also highlights how these fake orphanages disrupt traditional family structures, leaving children separated from their parents and families. The film reveals the heartbreaking stories of these children and their families, as well as exploring the complex psychological, emotional, and physical tolls that this system takes on them. It serves to portray how fake orphanages are often not in the best interests of the children they purport to serve.


6. Natalia Grace & Orphan

The horrifying yet inspiring story of an orphan in India, is a powerful reminder of the resiliency and strength that lies within us. This documentary chronicles her harrowing journey as she struggles to survive without parents or guardians. It follows her from a young age, where she was left on the streets with no one to turn to for help, through the tumultuous times she faced in an orphanage. The film brings to light the often overlooked struggles that orphans have to face as they navigate a world without parental support.


7. The Orphanage of Elephants

This is a captivating documentary that takes audiences on an incredible journey into the lives of orphaned elephants. It focuses on the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust and its breeding and rehabilitation station, located in two unique parts of Kenya. The film follows a year-long narrative of these orphaned elephants as they grow up, forge relationships with their peers, and eventually make their way back into the wild. Audiences are treated to never-before-seen footage of these animals in their natural habitats, showing us a side of coexistence that is rarely seen. Through this film we gain an understanding of both the incredible strength of wildlife conservation efforts as well as the remarkable emotional connections that the elephants possess.



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David B