Recently, Georgetown University’s Berkley Center for Religion, Peace & World Affairs asked the question:
In 2016, ReThink Orphanages, a network of Australian stakeholders published a report calling orphan tourism to be considered part of modern-day slavery. Orphan tourism is part of a larger industry called voluntourism, where travelers participate in various volunteer works for charity. Voluntourism is a $173 billion dollar industry. Contrary to popular belief, that children in orphanages receive better healthcare and education in an orphanage than with their parents, research has shown that children living in orphanages experience more abuse and neglect in institutions than in any other setting. UNICEF estimates that there are about 2.7 million children living in orphanages worldwide. It is because of these practices, many countries are abandoning institutionalization, instead of trying to keep children with their parents or placing them in a foster care system.
Sarah Chhin, M’lup Russey Organization’s Strategic Technical Advisor was asked to share her thoughts on this puzzling question. Her commentary is entitled, “Orphanages Will Not Stop Orphanage Tourism: Who Will Put Research into Action?”
“Individuals looking for volunteer opportunities need to read up on the issues, recognize red flags, and not take up placements if they are asked to do things they would not be allowed to do in their own countries, or if they are not required to provide basic documentation.”
You can read Sarah’s full write up here.
Other participants in this discussion include Children in Families’ Stacie Ellinger, “Experiencing the Alternative: Come and Learn about Family-based Care in Cambodia.”
And ReThink Orphanages Network’s Leigh Mathews, “Everyone Must Contribute to End Orphanage Tourism.”
M’lup Russey Organization would like to thank Georgetown University for tackling this tricky conversation head on and giving MRO and their partners the opportunity to share thoughtful information and solutions in tackling orphan tourism.
If you have any questions about orphan tourism, please let us know and we’d be happy to discuss it with you.