Hello Tom, thank you for your contribution ! It is very important to hear other peoples opinions.
It is great to know that there are still people who travel responsibly, and you being on this site is a solid evidence that you care about social issues.
I have came across some academic research evidence that, simply put, disturbs me. According to one article, there is a poster board next to an orphanage in Cambodia. It advertises the following activity "Shoot cows with bazookas". I am not kidding. When a researcher asked "event" organiser why this poster is stuck on a wall next to orphanage he explained that "it is a very popular activity choice for volunteers to undertake once they finish their orphanage volunteering placement. To me, this sends so many alarm bells ringing. What are these people that volunteer? What possible moral thoughts go threw their heads? Is attending an orphanage something on their "bucket list"? Other article explored a one-day pop-in orphanage experience, "just after the excursion to visit local elephants". Are children becoming commodities, like products on the shelves? How irresponsible is this?
Now I do understand and acknowledge that there are MANY responsible volunteers and I believe this information would sicken them. But what really shocks me is the rate these orphanages are growing and that it is becoming "ok" to treat orphanages as Shows or attractions.
Shane, thank you very much for your comment, I appreciate all the tips I can get. I will take a look at the website link you have provided and see what I can learn.
Currently I am trying to work out the best angle to tackle the problem. If you would go to google and type “volunteer orphanage”, so many results would appear. With more in-depth inspection to these websites, hardly any require any volunteer screening. We would not allow a stranger from the street to visit children in UK orphanages so why other countries differ.
Quality over quantity. There are many “cheap” volunteer options that students might choose but what they might not realise is that they are being tricked into visiting fake orphanages. There are a lot of these websites who bypass the biggest travel companies and therefore avoid all regulation.
My main idea is to make students/potential volunteers/schools/universities/employees and all who value volunteering experiences to understand the potential issues associated with orphanage volunteering. As an example, because I now know all of this information, I would never jump in the first volunteering opportunity but rather research the beneficiaries/regulations etc and how I would actually contribute to the affected community.