Going to visit a beautiful country? Want to make it better by visiting an orphanage? Think twice. Volunteering can have negative consequences as shown in this excellent video (above) and article at The Guardian. Volunteers in Nepal are being used by unscrupulous orphanages and voluntourism companies to the detriment of Nepali children and families.
When Dorota Nvotova, a young Slovakian, began volunteering at Happy Home in 2008, she was so moved by the children’s plight that she found a sponsor for every one of them. She raised about €150,000 (£122,000) for the home, but it was only later that she discovered the real reason its owner was so eager to attract foreign volunteers.
Whoa! Good job, but…
“It’s definitely about him making money. For him, it’s a business,” she said. “Whenever volunteers came he always tried to impress them and then they started fundraising for him.”
Unfortunately, it’s not hard to lure children and volunteers into even bad orphanages with a veneer of educational programs and good salesmanship.
… Keep Reading
Philip Holmes, chief executive of Freedom Matters, the charity that instigated the inquiry into Happy Home, said that in the worst cases this practice constituted child trafficking.
“Once a child enters an orphanage, he or she seems to become the property of the orphanage owner … [In effect], they become prisoners of the orphanage,” he said.
For at least three decades, experts have been stating that orphanages and shelters are not the best way to care for vulnerable children, but orphanages continue to multiply in developing countries. Why? Because regular working men and women, who may not hear from the experts, donate and support them. It’s not enough for experts to make the case that we have better options; regular people outside the development field have to get it.
So it’s good to see articles like this one in Forbes Magazine: Cambodia’s Booming New Industry: Orphanages Tourism. It’s voicing hard truths, and it’s a hopeful sign when this issue is being raised in more places.