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The Orphanage Crisis

Today we had Claire didi (author of Learning Service: The Essential Guide to Volunteering Abroad) come back in to talk to us about orphanages in Nepal as a form of child trafficking. We were difficulty tasked with acting in certain roles and tried to empathize with the characters of orphanage owners, orphanage recruiters, volunteers, parents, and children. Some orphanage owners are able to profit greatly from housing children, raising their status and reputation. They often pay orphanage recruiters to scout children from families. The recruiters will lie to parents of children in rural villages, often saying that they will take their children to a “boarding school” in the city where they will have a better education and life. The recruiters will often collect money from parents for “tuition”, which is why orphanage recruiting has become a profitable business model. 80-90% of children in orphanages in Nepal have at least one living parent. As orphanages house more children, living standards often decrease while profit rises. 80% of registered orphanages in Nepal fail to meet minimum government standards. Orphanage volunteerism is an issue as well; growing up in an orphanage can inflict physiological and emotional harm on children as they grow up- often exacerbated by rotating through many caregivers. 90% of orphanages are in the top 5 tourism districts in Nepal. Orphanage owners will market their children for donations by putting on shows or making them dance, trying to make them appear cute and more impoverished.

I know that I tried to sum up a huge issue in a paragraph, but the talk made me much more aware about what I would be supporting if I volunteered at an orphanage abroad or toured one.