YouTube’s Wealthiest Star MrBeast Under Fire for Allegedly Using South African Orphanage for Views
The world’s wealthiest YouTuber, MrBeast, whose real name is Jimmy Donaldson, is facing criticism once again, this time for using the struggles of a South African orphanage to boost his channel’s viewership. In a recent video, he showcased the reconstruction of the Baphumelele orphanage in Cape Town, claiming he funded the project with millions of dollars. Within days, the video garnered over 15 million views.
A Viral Success with Troubling Allegations
While Donaldson asserted his good intentions to help, allegations emerged that he disregarded pleas from various humanitarian groups to cease his “philanthropic stunt.” Concerns were raised about the potential for orphanages to become hubs for “violence, abuse, and neglect.”
The global movement to eliminate orphanages in favour of finding families for children has received support from the UN, EU, Commonwealth, and the South African government. In 2019, a UN General Assembly Resolution urged member states to transition from orphanages to quality alternative care, such as foster networks and social workers.
Lourenza Foghill, representing Hope and Homes for Children, accused MrBeast of “completely ignoring” these voices, despite the charity reaching out to him in March shortly after he solicited donations for his orphanage project. Foghill labelled MrBeast’s actions as “white saviourism” and emphasized that he was denying Baphumelele’s children the right to grow up in a family.
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The Complex Reality: Orphans and Family Care
While no wrongdoing was found at the Baphumelele orphanage, evidence indicated that 80% of the 5.4 million children in orphanages worldwide weren’t orphans; they had families capable of caring for them. Advocates argued that children raised in such institutions often faced abuse, neglect, homelessness later in life, mental health issues, and encounters with the law.
Charities like Hope and Homes and the Lumos Foundation, led by JK Rowling, wrote to MrBeast’s team in March after his video amassed 15 million views, emphasizing these concerns.
MrBeast Adopts South African Orphanage
In his latest video titled “We Adopted an Orphanage,” Donaldson’s Beast Philanthropy claimed to have saved Baphumelele from closure. The video showcased their efforts, including building 12 new homes, ensuring a steady supply of fresh food, and renovating the playground. MrBeast stated that the orphanage had saved approximately 5,000 lives.
The video also featured the touching story of Mama Rosie, the orphanage’s founder, who was surprised with the renovated project. However, Lumos Foundation emphasized that not all orphanages had such good intentions, warning that many were set up to exploit children for profit and expose them to harm and abuse. The charity called for a shift away from promoting the orphanage system in favor of supporting families through community-based care.
Efforts to contact MrBeast and the Baphumelele orphanage by “The Saturday Star” were fruitless.