MrBeast has been branded a ‘white savior’ by charities over a viral video in which he boasts of rebuilding an African orphanage, despite a global campaign to shut them down.
The world’s richest YouTuber allegedly ignored pleas from humanitarian groups to stop his ‘philanthropic stunt’ amid concerns that orphanages are a haven for ‘violence, abuse and neglect’.
But MrBeast instead plowed millions of dollars into filming the reconstruction of the Baphumelele orphanage in South Africa.
His video showing the transformation of the building alongside smiling children garnered more than 7 million views on YouTube in under a week.
It has sparked accusations from charity Hope and Homes for Children that the stunt was simply a ‘ploy for more views’.
The movement to end orphanages worldwide and find families for children instead is backed by the UN, EU, Commonwealth and South African government.
In 2019, a UN General Assembly Resolution on Rights of the Child, urged member States to progressively replace orphanages with quality alternative care, such as foster networks and social workers.
Lourenza Foghill, from Hope and Homes for Children, said Mr.Beast had chosen to ‘completely ignore’ these voices, despite the charity contacting him in March, shortly after he released a video appealing for donations to his orphanage project.
She added: ‘Is it a classic case of white saviorism? Arguably yes, but one thing is for sure, Mr.Beast is denying the so-called ‘orphans’ from Baphumele their right to grow up in a family.’
The charity stressed there was no suggestion of wrongdoing at the Baphumelele orphanage itself, but pointed to evidence that shows 80 percent of the 5.4 million children confined in orphanages today aren’t actually orphans, but have family who could care for them.
Campaigners say the majority of children who grow up in such institutions suffer abuse and neglect and are more likely to become homeless later in life, experience mental health issues and have run-ins with the law.
Charities, including Hope and Homes and the Lumos Foundation, of which JK Rowling is President, wrote to MrBeast’s team in March to make this point, after his video appealing for donations to save the Baphumelele orphanage hit 15 million views.
Hope and Homes said they did not receive a response.
On August 20, MrBeast uploaded a new video titled ‘We Adopted an Orphanage’, which claimed his venture Beast Philanthropy had saved Baphumelele from closure after six months of ‘tireless’ work in which his team built 12 new homes, provided an ongoing supply of fresh food and repaired its dilapidated playground.