Skip to content

The paradox of Orphanage Volunteering

07.01.2015  06:28

Recently, a conference held by Next Generation Nepal and UNICEF addressed some of the issues which are related to Orphanage Volunteering and launched the new publication ‘The paradox of Orphanage Volunteering, Combating Child Trafficking Through Ethical Voluntourism’. The conferences stressed the importance of ethical volountourism, as voluntourism is growing internationally and the majority of these people are young, recent graduates, who see volunteering as a good way to help those less fortunate than themselves. The key advice from Next Generation was quite strong: avoid orphanage volunteering completely. 

What What is Orphanage Voluntourism?
Orphanage voluntourism is a term used to define a spectrum of activities related to the support of orphanages and children’s home by individuals who are primarily, tourists on vacation. In most cases, orphanage voluntourism involves a tourist who wishes to include an element of social work-oriented volunteering in their vacation or travels and who chooses to do this by volunteering their time - sometimes coupled with financial or material support – to an orphanage on a short-term basis.

The rise in children being separated from their parents to live in orphanages is a relatively new phenomenon in Nepal. With the promise of more ‘education, wealth and success’ Nepalese parents are mislead into sending their children to the city with the hope of creating better opportunities for their child. However, many of these have poor children, bad and unhealthy conditions, simply to attract donors and financial donations. Furthermore, foreign voluntourists have witnessed children being made to undertake activities, sometimes against their will, to please paying voluntourists.

The report carried out by Next Generation Nepal looks at the link between orphanage trafficking and the unnecessary institutionalization of children in Nepal and the harm that this causes children, as well as Nepali society at large. The report shows how orphanage voluntourism helps fuel the trafficking and displacement of children from their families and their unnecessary institutionalization in orphanages and children’s homes.

It is important to highlight that volunteering in general have both positive and negative effects, however, Next Generation Nepal suggest to bare the complexity of volunteering in mind if you are considering to do volunteer work. As a starting point, the advice from Next Generation Nepal is that orphanage volunteering is not a good idea for the children involved, as they do not benefit from short-term volunteers, and that you should consider your own professional skills and how they will benefit on a long-term basis before working as a volunteer.

Read the full report here: