Planning that long-earned adventure overseas? These travel tips could help you avoid the dangerous trend of ‘orphanage tourism'.
1. Remember, children are not tourist attractions
Around the world, the popularity of poverty tours including orphanages, slums or even dumpsites is increasing. These types of tours exploit children and their families for the financial gain of the organisers and can lead to further exploitation.
In Cambodia, for example, it’s estimated nearly three out of every four children in the country’s orphanages have at least one living parent.
However, despite there being fewer orphans in Cambodia, the number of orphanages is increasing. According to UNICEF Cambodia, the number of known orphanages rose two-thirds between 2005 and 2011 - neatly mirroring the jump in tourist numbers over the same period. Tourists donating time and money, with the best intentions, may in fact be contributing to separating children and their families and, worse, putting children at risk.
UNICEF and its partner organisations Friends International and the Child Safe Network have compiled a guide of what to consider
when planning a volunteer experience in an orphanage located in a developing country. The guide lists why visiting an orphanage can do more harm than good and what you can do to ensure your volunteer experience is not going to harm children.
If you are looking to volunteer your professional skills or donate
, look for reputable programs that support and promote family and community-based care, reintegration of children into family and community-based care, and provision of social services to vulnerable children and their families within a community setting, and which prevent family separation.
2. Don’t buy for or give to children asking for money
Many parents feel compelled to put their children on the streets to work because they are unable to earn an income themselves.
By buying products, giving money or food to children you are maintaining this unsafe daily life and preventing them from accessing school or training, which, in turn, locks them in a cycle of poverty.
UNICEF works with governments, community organisations and parents to keep children in school and out of exploitative labour like begging. Make a donation today to help children everywhere break out of poverty and shape their own futures.
3. Think about how you can protect children from exploitative labour
168 million children are involved in work each day, which can keep them from attending school. If you see a potential forced labour situation during your travels, report it to local authorities or contact Child Safe hotlines.