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Tour company halts trips to overseas orphanages because it’s harming kids.

A travel company that has organized high school volunteering trips to overseas orphanages will end the program after 30 years amid fears “voluntourism” was harming vulnerable kids. The ABC reports the world’s biggest school-based volunteer company World Challenge will stop offering trips to orphanages in developing parts of the world, such as Cambodia, Vietnam, Mongolia...
Time: 12:50     Date: 13.09.2017
US Living News: Tour company halts trips to overseas orphanages because it’s harming kids. NY Post 24 - US News

The ABC reports the world’s biggest school-based volunteer company World Challenge will stop offering trips to orphanages in developing parts of the world, such as Cambodia, Vietnam, Mongolia and Madagascar.

The company has partnered with advocacy group ReThink Orphanages, which claims the practice of tourists visiting orphanages does more harm than good to children and fuels a damaging and exploitative industry.

In a statement, World Challenge said: “Many of our teams have made positive contributions through infrastructure development for orphanages and care homes in the past, but now is the time to acknowledge the specialist skills needed in this arena that are not suited to our teams.”

“Our community engagement projects are focused on tasks which allow participants to use the skills, capabilities and enthusiasm they do have in a positive collaboration with local community members.”

According to ReThink Orphanages, of the eight million children who live in residential care homes, or orphanages, worldwide, more than 80 percent have living relatives.

“Children who grow up in orphanages experience attachment disorders, developmental delays and have difficulty forming relationships in adulthood,” the group said.

“The effects of institutionalization can last a lifetime and even impact upon following generations.”

“Unfortunately, the institutionalization of children is, in many cases driven by the well-meaning but uninformed support of foreign donors, orphanage voluntourism and the supply chain of people, money and resources that drive the orphanage industry.”

World Challenge acknowledged visits to orphanages could be damaging to children as their short-lived bonds with volunteers could “reignite and exacerbate damaging feelings of abandonment.”

The company had partnerships with 300 Australian schools and last year sent 150 Australian high school students on volunteering trips.

It said it would withdraw from residential care homes this month.

The voluntourism industry is now worth $173 billion globally, according to ReThink Orphanages, which is among a number of groups calling for an end to it.

In 2015, aid organization Friends International urged Australians to stop volunteering in orphanages, such as in Cambodia, because they were “tearing families apart.”

“Foreigners are the principle funders and they are being fooled by something they don’t understand,” the group’s spokesman James Sutherland said.

“Children are not objects, they are not cute things you visit, feel sorry for, give pencils and teach them ‘heads and shoulders knees and toes’ for the umpteenth time,” he said.

The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade urges Australian travelers to be careful when opting to volunteer with children overseas.

“While it is important that the international community works to prevent child exploitation and neglect, volunteers should always ensure that they are contributing in an ethical and meaningful way,” the department said.

“Volunteers considering short term placements with children, particularly in orphanages, need to carefully think about the potential long term impact they may have on children in need of stability, structure and care.”

“Working directly with children in communities and orphanages may not be the most effective way to provide sustainable assistance. Volunteers should first consider donating to or working on projects that aim to develop and strengthen local communities, to create longer term alternatives for children living in poverty.”

DFAT said some organizations removed children from adequate family care in order to profit from donations.

“There are also reports of unscrupulous organizations deliberately housing children in poor conditions to attract ongoing financial support from volunteers,” it said.

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