Orphanage tourism has become so popular that bogus orphanages have been created. I recently read an article on how some voluntourism companies are unknowingly helping to create orphanages filled with children who are, in fact, not orphans. Children with families are being sold, or offered an education, only to be trafficked to orphanages to satisfy the “demand” from voluntourists. I found this to be a horrifying result of the voluntourism industry growing too fast and another reason you should always be aware of ethical implications a tour provider may have on your outcome. Responsible Travel set an industry standard by removing all volunteering trips to orphanages, but much needs to be done to improve to the orphanage tourism industry.
I have never been a fan of Orphanage tourism, although I do volunteer with children. Studies have shown that group homes and foster parents are much more beneficial for children to form close bonds with people they can trust. I am currently mentoring at a middle school in West Philly, and I’m already feeling regretful at the thought of having to leave one of my students because I know how much she depends on me. It’s important to keep in mind that you cannot offer children long-term support, which is what they really need. These things are extremely important to growth and development and should be considered when volunteering with children. Go to Thinkchildsafe.org to learn more about the dangers of orphanage tourism.