J.K. Rowling warns against the dangers of ‘voluntourism’

Wednesday, August 24th, 2016. Filed under: Books Entertainment Health & Fitness International Stars Online

Author J.K. Rowling has taken to Twitter to speak out against “voluntourism” and the well-meaning, but misled, tourists who volunteer at orphanages abroad.

Author J.K. Rowling spoke out against 'voluntourism'. © AFP PHOTO / CARL COURT

Author J.K. Rowling spoke out against ‘voluntourism’.
© AFP PHOTO / CARL COURT

In a series of long-running tweets posted on Sunday, August 21, Rowling wrote about the why the rise of voluntourism, particularly when it comes to working in orphanages in developing countries, does more harm than any good.

Rowling raised the issue after a charity asked the writer to promote their work connecting tourists with orphanages on Twitter, she explained.

But in reference to her children’s charity Lumos, which works “to end the institutionalization of children”, Rowling pointed out that neither she nor her charity endorses the trend, calling voluntourism one of the drivers breaking up families in poor countries and incentivizing orphanages to run as a business.

“Globally, poverty is the no. 1 reason that children are institutionalised. Well-intentioned Westerners supporting orphanages…perpetuates this highly damaging system and encourages the creation of more institutions as money magnets,” Rowling tweeted.

Rowling isn’t the first to highlight the controversy over voluntourism.

Different groups including NGOs and travel experts have pointed out that some orphanages are nothing more than child trafficking operations.

A report from UNICEF, for instance, found that 75 percent of children in Cambodian orphanages are not orphans at all but have at least one living parent.

In some cases, children are deliberately separated from their families, or parents and relatives are talked into sending their children away in exchange for money.

“Further, while orphanage volunteers are generally well-intentioned they often do not realize they could inadvertently cause harm to children,” reads an explainer from UNICEF.

“Volunteering for short periods of time without appropriate skills and training could contribute to a repeated sense of abandonment felt by already vulnerable children.”

  vs/nmo – Relaxnews
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