Watch ABCs Foreign Correspondent on March 3 at 8pm.
Learn about orphanage trafficking.
Know you can be part of the solution.
“The cold hard facts are there aren’t enough ‘orphans’ to volunteer with. So, the orphans are being invented.” (Kate van Doore, Forget Me Not)
Every year thousands of Australians donate money or volunteer in developing countries such as Nepal, helping to house and educate orphans.
But are we really doing good?
Foreign Correspondent travels to Nepal to uncover an ugly truth: most of the children living in the more than 500 orphanages across the country are not orphans. Many are the victims of traffickers, who prey on poor families in remote areas desperate to give their children an education in the city.
Westerners, including Australians, are driving this exploitative trade. Traffickers deliver the children to illegal orphanages where they’re used to attract foreign donors and volunteers.
Australian lawyer Kate van Doore found out the hard way. In 2006, she co-founded an orphanage in Kathmandu, taking in a group of girls from another institution. It was more than 5 years before she discovered that every one of them had living families.
Now Kate and her organisation are working with the Nepali government to stop the flow of foreign funds, to close illegal orphanages, and return the children home to their families.
Reporter Sally Sara follows the journey of 10-year-old Devi and a group of trafficked children as they travel from Kathmandu to their villages in the Himalayas.
It’s a moving, confronting and, ultimately, hopeful story.
‘I was worried, and I regretted sending her. I’m just so glad we have Devi back’. (Kalawati, Devi’s mother.)
Watch Paper Orphans on Foreign Correspondent on March 3, Tuesday night at 8pm on ABC and also on iview.
Today is International Day of People with Disability. As an organisation we have prioritised inclusivity more each year and as a forever-learning organisation we know we can always do more!
The 2019 theme is ‘Promoting the participation of persons with disabilities and their leadership: taking action on the 2030 Development Agenda’. One such impressive leader is the fabulous Barma.
Barma’s vision impairment does not blur her focus on building safer communities for children where they are not bullied for being ‘different’.
Recently Barma shared her personal story of ‘orphanage life’ changing the hearts and minds of more than 60 government officials in Chitwan. She confidently asked for their commitment to create child safe communities.
Barma is a Forget Me Not Change Agent and valued member of the ETC. Team currently working on sustainable alternatives to voluntourism in Kathmandu.
In Nepal, orphanages attract countless ‘voluntourists’ and their donations each year. While good-intentioned, donors are unknowingly supporting the ‘orphanage trade’: an industry removing children from their homes with the promise of a better life and profiting from fee-paying volunteers. Aswell as reuniting children with their families, Forget Me Not empowers young people with skills to earn an income in the tourism industry.
This gift reunites youth in Kathmanduwith their families, supports them to meaningful employment and educatestravellers about the dangers of orphanage tourism.
Global Gifts invest in communities rather than packaging. 100% of your gift goes straight to the project. Plus, The Intrepid Foundation match all donations. Double the giving, double the impact.
There are about eight million kids living in orphanages around the world, but it’s estimated 80 per cent of them aren’t orphans at all. Forget Me Not wants that to change and The Intrepid Foundation are backing us!
The Ethical Tourism Collective is working on five sustainable alternatives to voluntourism. Each member of the project team has first-had experience of orphanage tourism and now will be the ones to co-design and deliver an ethical alternative. Something that rewards the generosity of travellers, rather than exploiting it.
Orphanage tourism is where tourist interactions with ‘orphaned’ children are central to traveller itineraries and experience making in less-developed contexts.
While appealing to the desire of tourists and volunteers to ‘do good’ while travelling, underlining orphanage tourism is the fact that the vast majority of children (over 80%) in orphanages and allied care institutions are not orphans. Instead, children are often placed in institutions due to poverty and hardship, and as victims of human trafficking.
In some cases, orphanages can be for-profit enterprises, where the commodification of good intentions begins and becomes embedded in the tourism supply chain. Children are becoming tourist attractions and the focus of tourist consumption, leading to orphanages as sites of tourism production and consumption.
The first of its kind, this book highlights exploratory research that examines the links between modern slavery practices and orphanage tourism.
Contributors include academics and practitioners with a long engagement in advocacy for the rights and protection of children and research into sustainable and responsible tourism. Written in an accessible manner that appeals to a broad audience.
This book will appeal to researchers interested in the areas of tourism, human geography, development studies, childhood studies, law and social justice, as well as those interested in responsible and sustainable travel. Practitioners, policy makers and civil society groups working at the vanguard of tourism expansion and communities in less-developed contexts – particularly where labour rights transgressions, human exploitation and trafficking are prevalent – will also find the book insightful.
Edited by: Joseph M Cheer, Wakayama University, Japan Leigh Mathews, ALTO Consulting, Australia Kathryn E. van Doore, Griffith University, Australia Karen Flanagan, Save the Children, Australia
November 2019 | Hardback | 184 Pages | 9781789240795
7 years back we started a beautiful journey to free ourselves from the orphanage. We fought back for our rights to family, love and above all we asked for our freedom from the abusive orphanage…
And here we are today standing on our own with the supportive hands. We went through a lot during the stay at the orphanage and had to experience 8-9 years being orphan but those difficult times made us who we are and where we are today.
Now we all are independent, some sister are about to graduate. Some are working as Change Agents to bring awareness about orphanage trafficking and some of us are still on our way to graduate. We are always grateful to each one of you who really helped us during our journey. Without you all it wouldn’t have been possible.
We are so fortunate to all the brothers and sisters of Forget Me Not and The Himalayan Innovative Society for being on our journey. Without your support, love and care, this would not have been possible.
Sincere thanks to our family in Australia and to Eva dee for being on this journey at the start. It’s a great honour to have you all in our lives. We are the luckiest daughters.
We would also like to thank the Nepal Government (Central Child Welfare Board) for rescuing children from abusive orphanages and giving their identity and biological family back.
Here’s a thoughtful and personal perspective from someone with firsthand experience of adoption who is thriving and courageous to share her story with us. 🙏
As an adoptee, everyone asks Stephanie Drenka how she’ll be celebrating National Adoption Awareness Month. Even the name irks her.
“… to me, this month feels like being at a wild party and losing something in the crowd. You try calling for help – asking others to join in your search – but the music and festivities drown out your voice. Your interruption is not only unwanted; it is unacknowledged. This party is not for you.”