CAMBODIA, November 16, 2012 – A group of humanitarians who live and work in Cambodia has banded together to raise awareness about the negative impact of orphanage tourism and launched a new website dedicated to the cause, Orphanages: Not the Solution – http://www.orphanages.no/.
The purpose of the website is to educate people about what orphanage tourism is and the devastating affect is having on the children of Cambodia, many of whom are not even orphans. Most governments and child care professionals regard the institutionalization of children in orphanages as the very last resort. Unfortunately, in Cambodia it is increasingly becoming the first, mainly due to the increased demand from travelers and donors for more and more orphanages. Others are nothing more than money-making scams that are specifically targeting unsuspecting tourists.
“The fact is, most travelers, donors, and volunteers are completely unaware that they are fueling this problem or that they may be doing more harm than good,” comments the group spokesperson. Media Note: Because many of the most profiteering Cambodian orphanages have close ties with the government (some of those who have spoken out about this in the past have been threatened) the group prefers to remain anonymous for now.
The group’s spokesperson goes on to say, “Few of these people that are trying to help are actually qualified to work with traumatized or vulnerable children, so what we end up with is an even more dire situation than we started with. What we want to do through www.Orphanages.no is to help channel the good intentions of travelers and donors towards initiatives that provide more positive support for children, and support family based care, reducing the separation of children and their communities.”
In addition to educational materials, the http://www.orphanages.no/ website also contains a number of helpful resources for tourists, visitors and those interested in participating in volunteer work in Cambodia. The goal is to provide enough information that these individuals and groups are better able to make informed and responsible decisions about whether to support orphanages, and to understand the consequences of their decisions.
“We really want to get the word out about this important cause, and let well-intentioned people know that there are better alternatives and avenues through which they can help,” the group explains. “We encourage visitors to become educated about orphanage tourism, and to help us continue to raise awareness by sharing the information they learn here with others. The goal is to stop fueling the orphanage industry and find ways to support vulnerable children and their families, not split them up. The children of Cambodia, and around the world, deserve better.”