I am contemplating going to Cambodia for 3-4 weeks to volunteer at an orphanage, but have no idea what things I need to know, or how I would organise it.
Where to start Catherine ! What's probably most important is that you're working with a reputable organisation, whose objectives are sound and sustainable. There are a number of organisations who work there, but can I suggest that you contact - http://pepyride.org/support/volunteer-opportunities - (@pepytours). I know this team personally and they'll point you firmly in the right direction. They'll help you better understand the landscape and how you can make a real difference. over 8 years ago
Hello Catharina - I would highly encourage you not to volunteer for any orphanage in Cambodia. Any place that would allow you to come for on3-4 weeks is not likely a place worth supporting.
Please read these posts from my blog: http://lessonsilearned.org/2009/10/a-protest-against-orphanage-tourism/ & http://lessonsilearned.org/2009/12/more-orphanage-tourism-no/ + this article from the Guardian specifically referencing Cambodia: http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2010/nov/14/orphans-cambodia-aids-holidays-madonna
A recent UN funded study showed that about 70% of "orphans" in Cambodia's orphanages have at least one parent. That is not really core of the problem though - the problem is that many of the now 35 orphanages in Siem Reap are making money off using kids as zoo animals. They bring in volunteers/tourists, charge no fee for the visit or "free dance performance", many of which are advertised in nearly every cheap hotel in the country as both the hotel & moto/tuk-tuk drivers get commissions for bringing travelers there, and they invite you to just come and see or volunteer. The donations people give are then used to line people's pockets and build more dance stages, or to pay the salary of the men who drag the "orphans" through the streets at night begging more people to come to their "free shows". It is child exploitation at its worst.
Orphanages are no long accepted as the best way to support children in the US, in Canada, and in most wealthy nations. You don't see orphanages lining our streets, though we too have "orphans". Transitional homes and foster care are considered better options - and the same deserves to be true for kids in "poor" countries. The growth of orphanages is NOT from the growth of orphans but rather from US - the DONORS/TRAVELERS of the world who want to "give" to orphanages with our time or money as it makes us feel good about ourselves. I know, as I have done this myself - it makes us feel good to think we are helping those who we considered to be most vulnerable.
To really help those kids, learn more on Child Safe's website http://www.childsafe-international.org/ & support orgs keeping kids w/their families over 8 years ago
I definitely agree with Daniela's post. I know you posted this a while ago, but if you're still interested in socially responsible travel to Cambodia, you should check out friendshipwithcambodia.org. They offer tours in which trip participants eat in restaurants that are training programs for former street children, visit fair-trade craft shops that employ landmine survivors, and stay in locally-owned hotels that prohibit sex tourism. In addition to visiting the ancient temples of Angkor Wat and the floating villages of the Tonle Sap lake, trip participants spend time in a rural village and see Friendship with Cambodia’s humanitarian projects.
Additionally, Friendship with Cambodia empowers disadvantaged people in Cambodia to help themselves by sponsoring children in school and providing small loans for women.
They also publish a socially responsible travel guide for Cambodia: http://www.friendshipwithcambodia.org/programs-education.php. It's really well-written and very informative.
Hope this helps!
~Erin almost 8 years agoAnswered by ErinM via WorldNomads.com