7 April 2013

Think Before Visiting an Orphanage

''Imagine if a busload of Chinese turned up at a school in Australia, played with the children, spoke to them in Chinese, pushed them to eat rice and fish and took photographs with them and splashed them all over Facebook?''''The parents would go berserk.''

Indeed they would. But a similar thing does, all-too-often, happen here in some of Cambodia's more than 600 orphanages.
600! That's an increase of more than 65% in the last 5 years. And it's estimated that 72% of these 'orphans' actually have at least living one parent.

But that doesn't matter to the unscrupulous who find 'poor little orphans' make for a good business model; donors pay the orphanages more for every child under their care and the bigger ones are able to attract more tourists (and their accompanying donations) on feel-good missions to where the kids are corralled.*
So, low-life recruiters for such orphanages contact poverty-stricken rural families offering them a place in their centre and the illusion of a life with free food, clothing and education. Often the recruiter will pay the family cash to seal the deal.

It's not a better life the child gets though. Rather they are thrown together with dozens of other kids that they have never met before and sent to beg or sell trinkets and postcards on the street. Or, beam for dozens of tourist's Facebook-bound  photos.

Children are not tourist attractions. Think before visiting an orphanage.

Read more: http://www.smh.com.au/world/stealing-a-generation-cambodias-unfolding-tragedy-20130406-2hdy2.html#ixzz2PkIYITtq

*There are some fine orphanages in Cambodia. Sunrise Children's Village is a stand-out example.

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