This is a guest post from Rishi Bhandari, a Nepali who grew up surrounded by international volunteers.
According to Save the Children Australia, popular voluntourism destinations for Australians such as Bali, Thailand and Cambodia have seen the number of orphanages increase by up to 500 per cent since the trend began.
Head of Bal Mandir, nation’s oldest non-profit for children, arrested on charges of child trafficking
The director of the organisation has been accused of abetting a British national in unlawfully procuring a Nepali child and assisting in obtaining fraudulent documents to claim the baby.
In middle school, I remember hearing about the local church visiting a rural town in Mexico with a group of volunteers for a week to build houses. At the time, I was impressed. Not only did I not know how to find these sort of opportunities on my own, but I remember thinking how noble it was to put yourself outside your comfort zone in such a productive way.
As a child, Teresia was forced to work at a Kenyan orphanage, where well-meaning donors and tourists paid to visit with the children.
At 2:30 a.m. on Sunday morning we received an urgent phone call for a rescue of 12 children from an illegal orphanage. The man holding the children escaped a few days earlier leaving the children without enough food.
This is our brief guide on ethical volunteering and ethical tourism. Read it through and contact us if you have any further questions!
Read the latest dispatch from Nepal here!
Despite powerful evidence of the negative impact of orphanage care, private donors continue to provide large amounts of funding to orphanages through donations, volunteer tourism, mission trips and other forms of fundraising – adding to the pull factors drawing more vulnerable children into institutional care and away from family or community care.
Do you have money and think you can change the world with it? Do you have low self-esteem, or simply crave instant gratification on social media? Or maybe you just want to increase your chance to on Tinder by embodying a third-world savior persona? Well, I’ve got an easy answer to check all your theoretical boxes: voluntourism.
Institution-based sexual exploitation, including within orphanages, is on the rise in South- East Asia. While the drivers of this increase are complex, the growth in volunteer and orphanage tourism creates opportunities for child sexual exploitation by allowing contact between vulnerable children and child sex offenders, stimulating demand for orphanages and orphaned children through child trafficking and paper orphaning, and providing the necessary conditions for orphanage scams.
It was 2010, I was just finishing my A levels and had two months before starting university. I knew I wanted to go away and do something different. I was interested in development work and as an eager and naïve 17-year-old, volunteering abroad in an orphanage seemed like a rewarding, helpful and ethical thing to do.