Volunteering in orphanages: more harm than good

Eight million children live in orphanages and other institutions globally. More than 80 percent are not orphans but have been separated from their families, in part to attract volunteers who also donate money and in part to feed an insatiable demand from traffickers and human slavery supply chains. “Orphan tourism” has been called the “perfect 21st-century scam,” attracting visitors who believe they are doing good, when in fact their good deeds are fueling an industry based on child exploitation. To learn more about the need to end the systematic institutionalization of children worldwide, visit Lumos (co-founded in 2014 by J.K. Rowling) and ReThink Orphanages, a coalition founded in 2013 to share information about the impact of international volunteering in orphanages and raise awareness about the negative effects of volunteering in these settings.

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