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13 posts • Page 1 of 1
A very interesting Articele and sure ... Topic discussed already earlier here, but me like:
"THE ORPHANAGE BOOM http://www.telegraph.co.uk/expat/expatlife/9055213/Orphanage-tourism-help-or-hindrance.html
Earlier this year, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) reported that while the number of Cambodian orphans has decreased, the number of orphanages has rapidly increased."
One volunteer summed up his experience by saying: “The kids at the orphanage changed my life completely. I can honestly say I am a different person. The 14 days I was at the orphanage taught me so much…Just having been able to make a difference by working at the orphanage and to share my time with [the children] was so incredibly rewarding. It was one of the most genuine experiences of my life.”
Thoughts ... Welcome!
Is the message going to get through?
Our local orphanage is Govt run with the assistance of a French organisation. Education standards there are higher than most if not all local public schools. To get entry to the orphanage permission must be given by various members of local govt hierarchy. i.e. village chief, commune chief and provincial govt.
Some of the 'orphans' drive their own moto's bought by their parents. I asked my wife why she thought there were richer kids living at the orphanage getting a better education than other local kids. She thinks that it is because both of the parents are working out of town, so the orphanage gets used as a boarding school. One of our staff members lived and studied there when she was younger. She told me she stayed there because her parents were having relationship difficulties. The director of the orphanage invited her parents to send her there.
This is really the better end of the orphanage system. It's not a tourist catchment. Volunteer teachers do longer term stints. But it does seem to operate as a subsidized boarding school at times rather than as an orphanage. That is to say it gains special benefit because of its status as an orphanage. Would foreign organisations and volunteers support a boarding school as readily as an orphanage? Probably not at this stage.
Some men you just can't reach. So you get what we had here last week, which is the way he wants it... well, he gets it. I don't like it any more than you men.
Of course a 'care in the community' approach would always be the ideal, with extended families taking care of children who are at risk. But that is the ideal, and not always possible in all circumstances. There is a need for properly managed, live-in care.
The article states, "Many countries worldwide have moved to de-institutionalise childcare in favour of foster care programmes and community- based support. Orphanages, says UNICEF says, should be the last resort." Organised and managed foster care is still a new concept in Cambodia. (My landlady does have a child from another village who lives in with her grandkids and they fund his education, but I don't think this is so commonplace.)
I hear it a lot from tourists and volunteers that "it says it's an orphanage, but how many are actually orphans? What a scam!" ...But how many of those children have parents (still alive) who are alcoholics, cannot provide the necessary care, are abusive, violent etc etc.
"...But at holiday time they all go home to their families!" Again, if well managed, parents that cannot cope with raising their children are not cut off completely.
Some 'orphanages' are dodgy, no doubt. Many are set up as a cash cow for the Director/Owner, creaming off the donations for him/herself. More regulation is needed. Some travel to far off provinces to 'recruit' kids. Some promise to 'save' their children, and turn them into god fearing christians.
But so as long as children born with learning difficulties are fed beer and cigarettes from a young age by their parents and turned into the village idiot, I'm all up for well managed, residential care away from home-lives like that. Centres that can offer street kids a safe, supportive environment to reach their potential academically.
Here are 2 of many that are doing things right.
Regulated visiting hours, long term skilled volunteers, solid child protection policies, financial transparency, extra-curricular opportunities, vocational training....
And they don't call themselves 'orphanages'. Cambodia still needs places like these.
I've never understood why anyone, from any background, would want to visit an orphange overseas. I doubt any of them would visit one back home in their respective countries.
A variety of reasons, I suppose. Interest is what happens in a country with no welfare system. Or having heard that this or that NGO is doing great things, so go along to find out more, and to be as sure as can be that $$ will not be mis-spent before they donate money. Perhaps visiting a 3rd world country opens their eyes to how hard the less fortunate have it, and they want to confront their own prejudices. Maybe they want to see children who come from nothing actually benefiting and receiving opportunities and education like any other child. Maybe because it gives them a warm and fuzzy feeling. Maybe they work at a school back home and want to partner with an NGO and get their students back home to fundraise for it. Very common. I could go on.
In the short time that I've worked with community development projects in Cambodia, the majority of which are not of a residential care set up, I've seen countless people volunteer, fall in love with Cambodia, go home, raise money, come back, volunteer again, send more money, sponsor families, sponsor cambodian staff through uni, recruit friends, send their own kids to volunteer etc etc.
And many of them are actively helping their own communities too - I see all their application forms. Whether they feel compelled to visit orphanages in their home countries? I don't know. But it is heart warming to work with such selfless people. (I'm as selfish as can be, in many ways!)
And then you get those that don't know why they want to visit an NGO. Maybe because their photos will look cool on facebook. Maybe because they are baby huggers. Or because it sounds like something worthwhile, and that happy chick that they met tubing in Laos recommended it. Or because they've never taught and they want to experience new things and different cultures on their gap year. Or perhaps for more sinister reasons.
With so much bad press about orphanage tourism and voluntourism, perhaps it is time for someone to write an article about the good that can come of it. But that wouldn't sell newspapers, I suppose. I'd write it, but I'm too busy misappropriating funds and enticing tourists with big cameras and bags of candy into orphanages to sing nursery rhymes with the brown babies.
Warm and fuzzy articles about voluntourism have been the norm for almost a decade. There still plenty of them coming out. It's only been in the last year/year and a half or so the the main stream press has finally begun publishing some negative articles.
so perhaps a more balanced approach - "Volunteering: The good, the bad and the ugly."
Nothing wrong with certain aspects of volunteering. I see voluntourism as exploitation, completely commercial, and orphanage tourism is well documented by that NGO that is campaigning against it, should be on one of the top Google spots.
As someone on this site already said, there are guesthouses in Phnom Penh
which cover all the bases by exhibiting the
CHILDREN ARE NOT TOURIST ATTRACTIONS
poster a few feet or inches from the standard
COME AND VOLUNTEER AT OUR ORPHANAGE poster.
Went to the orphanage a few years ago with some australian friends.
They had been there a year before.
Afterwards they said to me,its funny but none of those children were here a year ago....
so perhaps a more balanced approach - "Volunteering: The good, the bad and the ugly."[/quote]
Agreed, it doesn't require negative press but what is required are more well balanced fact based analyses of the industry, not just those articles written by tree hugging hippy do-gooder types. I think volnteering has a role to play, but that role needs to be better explained an defined to the general public, so they can make better informed decisions before embarking on their 'experience'.
13 posts • Page 1 of 1
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