Orphanage Tourism Article in the Telegraph


This article is an awesome portrayal of the situation complete with statistics and research studies to prove what Daniela and I have been harping on for years. So… if you’re still taking volunteers to orphanages do you have a page explaining why you’re different and doing it responsibly? If so, please share.

Here’s the article: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/expat/expatlife/9055213/Orphanage-tourism-help-or-hindrance.html

6 thoughts on “Orphanage Tourism Article in the Telegraph

  1. This is a really important issue for us – we work only in one orphanage and in one childrens home ( for victims of child trafficking where the children tend to be in their teens) – in both locations the organisations themselves have very strict rules about how volunteers can or cannot engage with the children.We do work with a lot of schools and community projects that care for vulnerable children.
    We have strict child protection policies ( which volunteers must agree to before being accepted onto a project) and they are also asked to read the following http://blog.travel-peopleandplaces.co.uk/?p=2842.
    We realised some time ago that we were misleading volunteers when we categorised some of our projects as working with children – this is not what we do – we are all about skills transfer our volunteers work with local people not instead of them – BUT – our volunteers by the very nature of their work do engage with children – we have a duty of care to the children and the volunteers – we are by no means perfect – but with the guidance of our excellent local partners and excellent partner projects we are trying to ensure that our volunteers do more good than harm.
    If you Alexia or anyone else have ideas that may help us improve – I would welcome any comments – on our blog or directly to me or here.
    Thanks again for a great blog.

  2. Do you do background and sex offender checks on your volunteers Sallie?

    And yea, I dont know what the ‘right answer’ is. I was picking the brains of these orphanage folks in Kenya last week and the one thing we came up with – which kind of makes sense to me – is having the volunteers come in to cook meals. Basically they are there to act as lunch ladies, help the staff do laundry and cook but their main activity is not to work with kids. If the volunteers (or if its a short day trip for a donor) donated a nutritious meal and then cooked and served it I dont think too much harm can come from that.

    We’ve all seen these orphanages that serve rice or corn mush for breakfast, lunch and dinner 365 days a year – contributing to the cost of a good meal and making it/serving it/cleaning up after it seems like it could be a good use of time and money and do no more harm than good.

    Just an idea I’ve been throwing around.

  3. This is an interesting issue. In South Africa, the impact of AIDS is creating more and more orphans. The state response is care within the family/community. I agree with this, but it does also have pitfalls (ie non biological children being treated differently to biological children within a family) but it is the most effective. We currently have in the region of 1 million orphans. And what I am finding is that there are an increasing number of children being abandoned – ie no family member or community member will take them in. There is no more space in state orphanages, so these children end up in “informal orphanages” – often run by churches, with very limited resource. Volunteer Tourism could play a role in supporting these – but I do not think the role is directly with the children. Perhaps building capacity to raise funds, writing proposals, supporting staff.

    We will see an increase in orphans for the next few decades, and exposure to what is happening elsewhere can perhaps translate into good practice.

  4. Paul raises an interesting point here – what about countries such as SA where there are huge numbers of orphans due to AIDS and many are rejected by their community because of stigma and or poverty?I guess I am back to it is beholden on us to do due diligence and ensure the projects we are supporting are ethical and then PROOVE it!- and ofcourse ensure that volunteers are not replacing local labour and are not engaging inappropriately with the children

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