Monday, October 12, 2009

Orphan Tourism

I was forwarded a very interesting article last week about “orphan vacations.” You can read the article here:

In the first section, the author discusses that this type of trip could encourage orphanages to purposely keep the children in bad conditions to encourage donations. I have had firsthand experience with this in one private orphanage (not an official government facility). The conditions were terrible, with crowded rooms and broken cribs, and no heat or warm clothing. We were moved to tears when we first visited, and of course our hearts wanted to give in every way possible. However, thankfully we took the time to do our research on the facility, and we discovered that multiple groups had donated large sums of money, while nothing ever improved. More research revealed that the person in charge of the orphanage lived in a brand new building in very nice conditions. I believe in this case the children were being used for donations, and thankfully the Chinese government eventually shut the home down.

I do think there is a big difference between going on an “orphan vacation,” which implies a recreational component for the adult, versus volunteering to go overseas to truly serve children in need. We have sent many teams into orphanages to help with physical therapy, education, and medical care. But I honestly had no idea the term “orphan vacation” even existed. A quick Google search just proved otherwise.

Have you heard of this new type of vacation? What are your thoughts on this topic?



  1. Wow, I've never heard of that before either. But it doesn't entirely surprise me. There is so much corruption out there and you often don't have to search very hard for someone who is taking advantage of a situation and of those too week or too small to stop them. Glad that attention has been brought to this matter...and better yet, that the Chinese gov't acted quickly to shut them down!!

  2. Yikes, I have never heard of the term before. Unfortunately like the poster above said, I'm not really surprised this goes on. I don't know why I continue to be shocked by things that go on this world.
    Dawn R.

  3. It feels so slimy. To know that they are intentionally profiting off of the sad misfortune of those who are voiceless and powerless. It breaks my heart.

    I am so happy that LWB and other such organizations exist to provide opportunities for MINISTRY trips and outreaches - truly to benefit those who need it the most, not the consumer-driven, materialistic and selfish "tourists!"

  4. It makes me nauseous. The people who are profiting, but the people who go to. How could one excuse that if they just look or ASK, they can find numerous orgs. like LWB that provide ways to help and/or go if one feels led to do that.