The number of Cambodian orphanages has tripled in the last 8 years, yet as many as 80% of 'orphans' have families. We look at how the lucrative "voluntourism" industry has turned orphanages into businesses.
"Orphanages are being created solely to accommodate volunteers. However, the kids are not orphans", says Emmanuelle Werner, an NGO worker fighting to expose what has been termed "voluntourism". Travel websites targeting the good will of volunteers offer thousand dollar trips to see Cambodia's orphan children, pocketing up to 40% of the fee. As a result, Werner says "many orphanages have adopted an open-door policy for tourists in exchange for a donation". Now 26, Sinet Chan's parents died in her childhood. She is reevaluating her upbringing in one of Cambodia's many orphanages. "I had the impression we were animals, placed in a zoo so people could come to see us every day", she says. "It is not a good cause. Instead of helping the orphanages, help the families who need it".