24 April 2019

International magazine highlights the tragedy of volunteering in orphanages

Images from the Family Traveller article

In this hard-hitting article, ‘Holly Tuppen: protecting kids’ rights on experiential holidays’, Family Traveller magazine explains why orphanage tourism ends up harming the very children the volunteers are trying to help.

Many families living in poverty around the world are coerced into giving up their children to orphanages. They are told their children will get better schooling and healthcare but quite often this is a myth, and the children are simply in the orphanage to swell numbers and therefore attract more sympathy… and more donations from generous but misguided tourists.

Travelling as a family gives parents chance to raise globally-minded families, but with this privilege comes great responsibility, says writer Holly Tuppen. She goes on to explain that while it’s easy to get swept up in a good cause, where children are concerned scrutiny is vital. Responsible travel experiences should be a two-way exchange based on mutual respect rather than handouts or voyeurism.

The article in Family Traveller magazine contains an extract from Jonathan’s story. Jonathan was five years-old when he arrived at an orphanage in Western Uganda. His parents were dead, but a close family friend wanted to adopt him into her family. Tragically, her request was refused.

In this audio piece for Hope and Homes for Children, Jonathan describes what it was like to live in an orphanage, to be visited by ‘voluntourists’ from the UK and what happened when, at the age of 17, he was asked to leave the orphanage because he was no longer “useful” to attract donations.