Today, Friends-International launched its new 'Children Are Not Tourist Attractions' campaign, including the article below, a new website and an ad campaign with banners on tuk-tuks in Phnom Penh, all to raise awareness about the orphanage tourism game and related child exploitation and voluntourism issues. The goal is to put an end to orphanage tourism in Cambodia. Such a campaign is long-overdue and sorely needed. The article and website are brilliant. I've been railing about this issue for years and it is very near and dear to my heart. (I only wish I could have been so eloquent as Friend-International has been in their website and article.) I wish them the greatest success in this endeavor. Please read, learn and heed their advice.
Photo by Friends-International from the
'When Children Become Tourist Attractions' article.
When Children Become Tourist Attractions
Posted on 20 October 2011, by Friends-International
Each year, thousands of tourists visit orphanages in Cambodia thinking they are helping some of the most vulnerable children in the world. Recent reports however have found their visits may be doing more harm than good.
Nearing midnight on Pub Street, Siem Reap is buzzing. Hundreds, if not thousands of tourists roam from bar to bar, looking for a good time after spending full days wandering through Cambodia’s spectacular Angkor Wat temples.
Beggars follow the travelers around, while other locals sell flowers, fake travel guides and postcards to unassuming customers. Through the mayhem, a small team of professional junior entrepreneurs make their way down the street pitching a different product to the hordes – a visit to a nearby orphanage...Continue reading here
Learn more at the Friends-International CHILDREN ARE NOT TOURIST ATTRACTIONS website.
Please, do not engage in orphanage tourism.
(If I may indulge briefly in a bit of selfish told-you-so righteous gloating...as I mentioned above, I have been on about the orphanage issue for the better part of a decade and the child beggar/vendor issue for a lot longer than that. As an old white male expat, I have been accused of being jaded, heartless, a cynical old expat and much, much worse, because of my views on this matter - all while the name-callers bought flowers from 8-year-old vendors in the bar in the middle of the night, doled out dollar bills to glue sniffing kids on the street and told teary-eyed stories of the orphanage at which they voluntoured [for a price] washing dishes and playing with the children. Tourists, most often young and more often than not female, with big hearts and very little thought, all knew so much more than this old male expat with 25 years in Asia under his belt. I am thrilled to see this long-established, trustworthy, highly credible organization saying basically the same thing, though of course in a more affable, organized, less curmudgeonly way. Maybe now people will listen.)