ABC Head First – Orphanage Tourism short clip

This video is a short animated piece from the Australian made documentary, The Orphan Business, which was shot in Cambodia.

The video describes very well how children become through voluntourism a product that is high in demand. The orphanage is the shop and voluntourists pay money to international voluntourism agencies to get to hug, teach and to be pictured with them. New orphanages open up, as the demand for organizations, volunteer travel companies and tourists is higher than the supply . Other orphanages have to search for additional children to satisfy the great amount of voluntourists at the institution.

The ending of the video describes how it is common practice that broker buy children from orphanages. Sebastian, our writer who has worked for years in a voluntourism project in Cambodia found, that this is extremely rare practice which he only experienced once. The video doesn’t outline that more than half of the orphanages are developed out of a at least partly positive motivation.
Most of the children are not in need to be institutionalized but families often believe that the children experience in orphanages better education and supervision. A false believe for many reasons. Most of the families send the children to orphanages voluntarily without receiving a payment out of hope.
For orphanages that are business orientated It is most common to:

  • take on some children that live close by who then only stay during day time in the orphanage. The tourists are being told they are orphans; as it sells better.
  • take on children that live far away from the orphanage, as they are easier to deal with. Parents are unable to observe the bad practice in the orphanage nor can the kids visit their parents.

Have you experienced something else? Please let us know and post a commant or contact us at Responsible Volunteering!

Check out the video here:

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About Sebastian Drobner

Sebastian has eight years of experience in international development cooperation, lived in five countries and on three continents. He started to get into the world of development in 2008 when he volunteered for one year in Cambodia for a local Voluntourism project. He then received a contract as an advisor through Bread for the World in Germany and supported the development of the program Volunteer Action for Cambodia by Star Kampuchea until 2012. At the same time he was responsible for the development of the government founded volunteer program Weltwärts of Bread for the World in Cambodia and it`s mentoring. From 2012 to 2013 he changed into the head office of Bread for the world where he was responsible for the administration of their volunteer program as a program assistant. Now he is studying International Social Work and Development and works part time in development projects. Part of this course was an internship in the Solomon Islands where he worked in a tourism course and developed a volunteer program for Don Bosco Technical Institute Solomon Islands. The knowledge he gained when he finished a three-year training in Hotel and tourism helped during this experience.

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