For decades, travellers have been embarking on ‘voluntourism’ trips to developing countries.
These kinds of trips offer placements for travellers in many different sectors and many volunteers end up working in orphanages.
While people may have a genuine desire to help disadvantaged children, some end up fuelling complex systems of abuse and profiteering without even knowing it.
We spoke with experts from organisations campaigning to change this. Here’s what we learned.
What is orphanage tourism?
Orphanage tourism usually involves travellers from wealthy nations working unpaid in orphanages in developing countries.
These trips can last up to a year and are especially popular among young people taking a year out between school and university. The work tends to include playing games with the children, singing songs or teaching English.
Aisling Ledwith, an advocacy and campaigns officer at child empowerment NGO Lumos, tells Euronews Travel that orphanage tourism is especially prevalent in countries that have been impacted by natural or national catastrophes. Kind people see these disasters on the news and feel compelled to help, she says.
Haiti is one example of this – the earthquake that struck in 2010 killed over 300,000 people and left 1.5 million without homes.
Nepal, Kenya, Ghana, Cambodia, Tanzania, Uganda, South Africa, India, Peru and Costa Rica are the countries where orphanage tourism is most common, according to ReThink Orphanages – a non-profit working to prevent family separation and unnecessary child institutionalisation.
Read the full story by Lily Radziemski on Euronews.travel.