Cambodia’s Orphan Business: The Dark Side of ‘Voluntourism’

by KhmerLife on Sep 17, 2019

Cambodia’s Orphan Business: The Dark Side of ‘Voluntourism’

Tourists volunteering in Cambodian orphanages may be unwittingly fuelling an industry that exploits children for profit.

After emerging from more than two decades of war in the 1990s, Cambodia has relied heavily on tourism to rebuild its economy.

It is one of the top destinations for young travellers, many of whom sign up with global volunteering companies.

Voluntourists‘, however, may be unwittingly fuelling the exploitation of children in poorly regulated orphanages.

Reports of child neglect and appalling living conditions, as well as stories of orphanage directors embezzling donor money, have emerged.

Companies that organise volunteers are also accused of exploiting tourists and children for profit.

In 2012, reporter Juliana Ruhfus travelled to�Phnom Penh to investigate.�She spoke to children, volunteers and orphanage staff, as well as activists working to stem child abuse in the country. She also went undercover as a volunteer to understand just how little protection children had in a failing orphanage.

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