Orphan Tourism

Orphan tourism is becoming a widespread problem in the developing world targeting unsuspecting volunteers just trying to help. In Cambodia and Guatemala, orphan tourism is a huge problem. Most children living in these orphanages are not actually orphans. The New York Times reports, "Some orphanages operate [more] like opportunistic businesses than charities, intentionally subjecting children to poor conditions in order to entice unsuspecting volunteers to donate money."

With voluntourist trips being short in nature, it leaves children vulnerable to psychological problems. Children experience an emotional bond with visitors, but are forced to experience a "revolving door" of volunteers.

Dr. Joy Gabrielli, a pediatric psychology researcher, and Dr. Andrea Freidus, a professor of anthropology at UNC Charlotte and researcher on orphan tourism in Malawi, explain the emotional and psychological effects orphan tourism has on the children involved.  

As you have seen, voluntourism trips typically result in more problems than solutions for host communities. That is why we encourage individuals to #VoluntourNoMore. However, we do feel that people should continue to volunteer abroad as long as they do their research and evaluate potential sending organizations with a critical eye.