You might have heard about orphanage tourism where travelers come and volunteer themselves to be involved in the the lives of children care during their visit. They also help to fund the orphanage or help raising donations. The intention of this is so meaningful for the children because they deserve a better life. However, sometimes the reality is not as magical as that. There have been many cases reported how orphanage tourism is in reality a business operation where communities are exploited and damaged instead.
So where do we go from here?
The concept of orphanage tourism is already good because it allows travelers to help the communities by volunteering through various activities. They can also experience the real lives of the orphan while travelling and exploring the world. Not to mention that the majority of travelers who volunteer are coming from wealthy family. They have genuine hope to help the children get better lives with their contribution especially in developing countries. However, there are also dark sides that everyone should see from this kind of tourism and how it can be damaging to the communities.
Negative sides of orphanage tourism
The statistics show that the number of orphanages in some countries keep increasing each year while the number of orphaned children doesn’t. So what does that mean then? Isn’t orphanage is a shelter for orphaned children?
There is a reality of manipulation and exploitation done by irresponsible people who are taking advantage of vulnerable communities. They know that many travelers are moved to help and donate money to the orphanage they visit. They recognize the good intentions while trying to make a good profit out of it. Many children aho are not even orphans are taken from their parents through a promise of a better life in the city. Both parents and children are promised good education and care and this is why they are willing to do what they are told to.
Another negative side of orphanage tourism is easy access that travelers have to be in close contact with vulnerable children. Travelers are basically strangers to the children regardless of how good their intention is. Also, not all travelers have the children’s best interest at heart. Allowing them intimate access to children is dangerous and can be damaging to the children.
Even if the travelers who visit have good intention to help taking care of the children, it is still not ideal for the children to be in constant change of care from an ever-changing group especially in the long term. The constant rotation may confuse the children who are basically vulnerable. It may create attachment disorder which can affect their life in the long run.
Seeing how orphanage tourism can be beneficial and damaging at the same time might put everyone, especially travelers who are only meant to help, in a major dilemma. And it is time for everyone to find better alternatives about ending orphanage tourism while still giving the best support to he children.