Cambodian Volountourism and the Cycle of Poverty

It’s human nature to help those who need it in any way possible. But when are people actually causing more harm instead of fixing the problem? (Bailey, A W, Fernando, I K 2010)

Cambodia is a beautiful country with a horrific past which has lead to many social issues within the communities and the government. Many outsiders wish to help these people, and as a result 500 orphanages are currently operating in Cambodia, some of them benefiting the children, providing them food, shelter and an education.

Orphans at an Angkor Orphanage and Education Organisation in Siem Reap

Orphans at an Angkor Orphanage and Education Organisation in Siem Reap

Yet there have been cases of people exploiting the nature of tourists financially supporting orphanages and embezzling donations intended for the upbringing of the children. The Sprouting Knowledge Orphanage in the Battambang province is one of them.

The children residing here had to catch rats, mice or fish themselves if they wanted to eat, the institution was unhygienic and the staff had been accused of beating the children, further the director himself had raped some of the girls. The donations given to this orphanage were fueling the cycle of poverty and abuse these children were living in, keeping the business alive. (Kariath, R)

This is problematic as there is an emerging type of toursim where individuals pay for a chance to ‘help’ at an orphanage. This has been coined “Volountourism” and involves promises of your presence making a profound difference in these children’s lives although you lack training in teaching or developmental practices. (Kouvelis, S, 2013)

But despite the volunteers obvious good intentions, there is little differentiation between the good charities and the bad charities, often leading to people unknowingly supporting charities which do not provide what they claim to.

Students at Mayfield Senior School raise funds in 2010 for the Sprouting Knowledge Orphanage in Cambodia through a bakesale.

Students at Mayfield Senior School raise $7000 in 2010 for the Sprouting Knowledge Orphanage in Cambodia through a bakesale.

The children being subjected to this care in orphanages have also shown psychological issues as a result of constantly being abandoned by different sets of volunteers after spending a few weeks together and forming a relationship, only to never hear from them again. Which does not build the foundations children need for healthy emotional stability in later life. (Voelkl, T H, 2013)

Intensive research is needed when one donates to an organization to prevent the exploitation and poverty being subjected to these children.  There is nothing wrong with good intentions, but there will always be people who attempt to exploit them.

 

 

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