Volunteer tourism has become a widespread trend all over the globe. A lot of travelers sign up for volunteer programs in orphanages in developing countries as a way of “giving back” or “doing good” in the world… Or so they think.

 

I recently watched a video which explains why volunteers with best intentions to help kids are in fact doing way more harm than good.

If you have ever thought of volunteering, you have to watch this: loveyougive.org

There are some shocking facts about orphanages that everyone should be aware of:

  1. The most surprising one is that 80% of children in orphanages actually have one living parent. More often than not, these parents who are living in poverty can’t meet their child’s basic material needs such as food and education, therefore they are faced with an impossible choice to give there child up to an orphanage so they can access these things. The truth is if resources and time put into orphanages were given to families and empowering them instead it would be much more effective, reduce the number of growing orphanages and stop unnecessary separation.
  2. Volunteers are unknowingly breaking up families. Most of these volunteers are completely unaware of this fact. Their intentions are in the right place, but the reality is that these orphanages break up families instead of supporting them. It is essential to do proper research beyond what most volunteers do before volunteering in anything.
  3. Volunteer-sending companies may be more concerned with creating a ‘life-changing’ experience for the volunteer. A lot of these programs are created for making a profit from western volunteers by offering them a “once in a lifetime” opportunity that they can share.
  4. Volunteer tourism is a $170billion industry. A lot of orphanages have become more of a business to make profits instead of really caring for children. Most volunteers that go on these programs pay a lot of money to sign up. In most cases, there is no real evidence as to how much this money is actually helping the kids. Even if some of the orphanages are physically well-maintained, this does not necessarily mean that the children are getting everything they need emotionally or mentally.
  5. Children are better off growing up with a sense of belonging in their communities. Imagine just for a moment how these children feel in an orphanage, where every week they get different volunteers that come and leave. As soon as they are able to build any kind of connection with them, the volunteers say goodbye and go home without realizing what this does to them. Most kids in orphanages have serious trust issues and mental illnesses because of this.
  6. It is extremely challenging to fit into society after leaving an orphanage. This fact is very well explained in the video below with live examples of real people who grew up in orphanages in Kenya. It is very emotional to see their obstacles and how difficult it is to build a life in the real world.

Before you think of volunteering, you should watch this video: loveyougive.org

Disclaimer: this is post is sponsored by loveyougive.org but as always, all opinions are my own.