End Orphanage Child Trafficking - FreedomUnited.org
25,840 actions of 30,000 goal
Campaign Update:

September 2018: Great news! Global Vision International and African Impact are the first to lead the way. They have committed to stop offering orphanage placements and have recognized the trafficking risks associated with children in institutions. Click here to read Global Vision International’s full statement and here to read African Impact’s.

End Orphanage Child Trafficking

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“He dressed us up looking poor so the visitors see us, they feel pity for us, and they donate more. But they don’t really know what was going on inside the orphanage.Sinet Chan, Cambodian Children’s Trust ambassador, describing her experience in an orphanage as a child.1

Unscrupulous individuals are profiting from the trafficking and abuse of children under their care in orphanages across the world. Traffickers, attracted by the funding orphanages receive from donations and organizations offering ‘voluntourism’ placements, effectively turn children into commodities by ensuring there is a constant supply of children who are used to attract funding.

Volunteer placement organizations have assigned thousands of volunteers across the world to projects bringing mutual lasting benefits to both volunteers and the communities they work in. Although usually a small portion of all placements, some offer placements in orphanages. Join us in calling on those that do to take a stand against orphanage placements. Whilst we are not suggesting that they have placed, or promoted the placement of, volunteers in orphanages which exploit or traffick children, we believe their support is crucial to breaking the cycle of child trafficking and exploitation in orphanages.2

‘Voluntourism’ – the practice of combining voluntary work with travelling – has become a popular trend over the years,3 leading to a boom in the number of organizations offering holiday packages that involve some voluntary work, including at orphanages. Whilst only some might be affected, traffickers and unscrupulous children’s homes seeking to capitalize on this trend, encourage impoverished families into giving up their children to orphanages, where they may be exploited, even abused, malnourished, forced to work, and sometimes trafficked to other orphanages and forms of exploitation in order to repeat the cycle and elicit further funding.

With an estimated 8 million children living in orphanages around the world and 80% of these having at least one parent or family member that is able to look after them, with additional support where needed,4 it is clear that something doesn’t add up.

In Cambodia, Sinet Chan was repeatedly beaten, raped, starved and forced to work on the orphanage director’s rice paddies and farms without pay. Now, she is a strong ambassador for the Cambodian Children’s Trust, telling her story and raising awareness of the potentially terrible conditions children face in institutions.5

The government of Cambodia recognizes the risks facing children in orphanages and has set up a pilot program to reintegrate children into families. Last July, it finalized a decree that tasks officials with identifying vulnerable children and overseeing their reintegration into families.6

Families living in poverty are vulnerable to being duped into selling or giving their children to orphanages in the hope that they will receive better care7this is often not the case. Even in orphanages that are well-resourced, being placed in an orphanage and destroying lasting family-based relationships has serious detrimental effects on a child’s long-term development and psychological well-being, and should only ever be used as temporary care and as the very last resort.

In Haiti, some families had been paid 75 USD to give their children away to orphanages on false promises their children would receive an education and opportunities for the future, only for them to end up living in slave-like conditions there.8

Vulnerable children being separated from their families and placed in orphanages to attract funding, volunteers and donations from well-meaning tourists is replicated across Southeast Asia, and has also been reported on in Nepal and across Africa.910 In one case in Nepal, a mother searching for her two children who she believed were in school, found them in an orphanage. The orphanage director then extorted the mother and insisted she pay him 144,000 rupees (1,440 USD) before he would release her children.11

It’s clear that organizations offering placements in orphanages can play a part in putting an end to the cycle of abuse perpetuated by traffickers seeking to exploit the demand for volunteer placements abroad.

These organizations can help prevent traffickers from running orphanages as potentially lucrative business models by removing the incentive to unscrupulous operators and making a strong statement against orphanage trafficking. We are asking them to:

  • stop offering orphanage placements to volunteers
  • publish a statement outlining their commitment to end orphanage child trafficking, and
  • establish a sustainable and careful system of divestment and join the worldwide movement to ensure children are raised in safe families who have been empowered to care for their own children with the support of partners experienced in child protection.
  • September 2018: Great news! Global Vision International and African Impact are the first to lead the way. They have committed to stop offering orphanage placements and have recognized the trafficking risks associated with children in institutions. Click here to read Global Vision International’s full statement and here to read African Impact’s.

  • August 2018: We have reached out to Global Vision International, Go Overseas, WorkAway, Love Volunteers, African Impact and Plan My Gap Year calling on them to join organizations such as Volunteer Service Overseas who have taken a stand against orphanage placements, publishing a statement on their website in 2016.
Aug 07, 2018 Campaign Launches

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JM RamisosuziPauline Ruthsandra JenesonMaire Lawless Recent comment authors
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JM Ramiso
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JM Ramiso

Kudos to GVI and African Impact. Every child really matters to you! Thank you for taking the lead! 🙂

suzi
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suzi

Thanks to GVI and African Impact. Hope others follow your lead. Well done.

Pauline Ruth
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Pauline Ruth

This is so sad – those who are already very vulnerable are being abused further. This information needs to be brought to as many people’s attention as possible so that this awful abuse can be ended. I will share it among my networks today

sandra Jeneson
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sandra Jeneson

Governments should intervene and help these poor children. Disgraceful they ignore what is going on.

Maire Lawless
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Maire Lawless

Than-you GVI and African Impact for leading the way in protecting children by agreeing not to place them in orphanages.

Volunteer Tour Operators: Take a stand against child trafficking into orphanages

25,840 actions of 30,000 goal
25,840

To: All volunteer organizations offering placements in orphanages,

I am concerned about the mounting evidence and research highlighting the risk of trafficking and exploitation facing children in institutions and orphanages across the world. I urge you to:

  • remove all advertisements and mention of voluntary orphanage placements on your website
  • commit to stop funding placements in orphanages and publish a short statement on your website clarifying your organization’s position against voluntary placements in orphanages that may be directly fuelling the trafficking and exploitation of children
  • establish a sustainable and careful system of divestment and join the worldwide movement to ensure children are raised in safe families who have been empowered to care for their own children with the support of partners experienced in child protection.
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