Thailand Orphanage volunteering

Discussion in 'Philanthropy' started by Mikey Mike, 4th Feb, 2017.

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  1. bob shovel

    bob shovel Well-Known Member

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  2. dmb1978

    dmb1978 Well-Known Member

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    It's definitely a tough one, not knowing whether your good intentions are helping or worsening the situation. I still would like to think that any help would be positive but can understand both sides. Living in Indonesia has opened my eyes to poverty and how lucky we are to live in Australia. I am also amazed at the ridiculous wealth and extremes here.

    I toyed with helping at orphanages and donating clothes etc and decided in the end to sponsor to kids to go to school and will hopefully be able to follow them through as far as they want to go. This is all done through a reputable organisation so I know the family will get the benefit. I am hoping education is the key.
     
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  3. Simon Hampel

    Simon Hampel Founder Staff Member

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    My cousin runs a hospital in rural Uganda with her husband (employing local staff) - she wrote an article about voluntourism from a fairly pragmatic point of view - both as someone who has participated as a voluntourist in her younger years and also now as someone who has committed to living long-term in Africa for the benefit of the community there.

    Maranatha Health - Let's call a spade a spade

    She also recommends reading the following website to help understand the issues and opportunities: The 7 Sins of Humanitarian Douchery | End Humanitarian Douchery | Putting a stop to irresponsible voluntourism
     
  4. Otie

    Otie Well-Known Member

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    The first time I ever went to Bali I gave money and bought bracelets of the kids selling them, then my expat friend explained to me by doing that I was keeping them out of school and on the streets as their parents aren't educated to understand that education in the long term will make them more money, the lack of education gives them the short term view that their kids are more profitable being out all night and day begging and selling flowers/bracelets.
    I think no tourist should ever tour a slum- that is really degrading for those who call it home and should never be a tourist destination. Toothbrushes/pencils etc may make you feel good but it will never fix the situation. Instead buy a clean water supply or something through a charity which is sustainable for the community.
     
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  5. Handyandy

    Handyandy Well-Known Member

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    Nepal's bogus orphan trade fuelled by rise in 'voluntourism'

    Avoid Orphanage Scams When Volunteering Abroad | Go Overseas

    Fake orphanages. Bogus animal sanctuaries. And crooks growing rich on Western gullibility... why do-gooding gap year holidays may be a horrifyingly callous con | Daily Mail Online

    Just be aware that it is becoming an industry. I guess you could call it the feel good industry.

    I was planning to do a similar deal but helping build schools or whatever until I started looking into it.
     
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  6. geoffw

    geoffw Moderator Staff Member

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    My daughter did three months working in a Ugandan orphanage last year. There is a high percentage of orphans in sub Saharan Africa due to AIDS; many families have only one parent who cannot afford to take the time to support children, so many are left with the orphanage.

    My daughter works in pre school child care in Australia so was a professional in the field.

    She said that even three months was too short. Problems occur when children get attached to a carer who then leaves.

    One thing that she has taken away is the awareness she is able to pass on to children she now works with in Australia.
     
  7. Mikey Mike

    Mikey Mike Member

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    Wow!

    Before we went, we did read a recent article bagging "voluntourism". It certainly had some merit, but was very general and really only applied to companies exploiting communities overseas.

    We researched various NGO's in Thailand on the internet, as we wanted to avoid a "feel good" experience and just coaching a soccer team for a week etc. and found a Children's Home near the jungles and near the Burma border.

    The Children's Home takes refugees from war-torn Burma who may have lost parents to war or disease, and some just couldn't afford to keep their child, so sent them to Thailand. Other kids were Thai and had horrible childhoods.

    The kids live together, go to school, have medical treatment and try to be self-sufficient by growing an extensive garden, funded by volunteers and donors around the world.
    The kids finish school then go to a trade school or uni, so can break the cycle that they would otherwise be in.

    The Childrens Home charged us a nominal fee for staying with them, and on top of that, I brought over 5 donated laptops (for the uni students), 200 donated toothbrushes and toothpaste donated by students, 5 digital cameras and extra donated cash.
    The Home relies on donations as they receive no funding from the Thai Government.

    We provided WWC checks and POlice Checks from Australia, and we were never really alone with the children, as we had our own kids to look after as well as teaching kids in groups of different levels.

    We didn't see it as "us saving the world", rather as us sharing our experiences and learning a lot from their lives. It was about an equal swap.

    We still communicate with them on a regular basis on Facebook and plan to travel and stay with them again next year - hopefully when I retire at age 41.

    It's funny that often the people that bag charities - always find excuses not to do or give anything to help others - just excuses!
     
  8. Terry_w

    Terry_w Well-Known Member Business Member

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    Mike, how did your kids like it?
     
  9. Luke T

    Luke T Well-Known Member Premium Member

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    Wow Simon yr cousin is doing some awesome work -love it! I am involved in Iganga currently -trying to setup microfinance system(among other things)
    They have obviously been frustrated by some selfish "volunteers" during their work doing the hard yards!
    I know of alot of young people from australia who have done these "mission trips " (and have helped the communities and taken money etc over for them )and in turn had their lives changed forever, so i am really cautious labelling them as volunteering so their own needs will be met. I reckon its a powerful way to help others less fortunate,so i reckon we should encourage that as much as possible.

    I do get what they are saying though -There are some who go over to help but when it doesnt go their way-they whinge and complain.
     
    Last edited: 7th Feb, 2017
  10. Mikey Mike

    Mikey Mike Member

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    Terry - my two kids loved it!
    We have a photobook that I would love to show!
    My kids got just as much out of it as the other kids. My kids want to go back to visit their friends!

    This Childrens home is used to having people stay for various amounts of time. The kids are mostly school age and like having visitors come and teach them stuff. And without the donations, they would not be able to live - nor go to school etc.
     
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  11. Anthony Brew

    Anthony Brew Well-Known Member

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    Very standard for Thailand.
    Everyone exploits everyone pretty much all the time.
    People sit down in a position hiding a leg to look like they have a missing limb to prey on the sympathy of a foreigners (who even those in low paying careers in their own country are rich by comparison so they give a lot compared to a Thai wage).
    Thai people hire babies to take to beg on the streets with for the same reason.
    They have lots of tiger parks where the tigers are drugged so that people can pat a 200kg tiger.
    They pay people to hire a 5 year old kid to walk on the road in traffic so that when the lights are red, they hope that people buy buddha necklaces out of sympathy for the kid.
    People with disabilities are hired to beg and the people who run it take most of the profits and give a nominal amount to the disabled person.
    The list is endless.
    The corruption is from the very top (royal family, military, government, police) and if there is a way to make money of screwing over others (including Thai people and especially the disadvantaged because they are the easiest to take from), they will absolutely do it.
    They also censor the media, use propaganda en masse, and have laws against free speech to make sure that the corruption can continue easily.


    At this point I would say there is probably no way to help them.
    They were born into a world where you get taken advantage of from the day you are born by everyone (people in power, and even their own parents had the kid purely so that they can take money from the kid when they grow up). The lower your social status and wealth, the more you will get trodden on, and there is no escape from it.

    People who live in Australia have no way to ever really comprehend how lucky they are and never will because even as a short term tourist you will never have a chance to see the reality that lies underneath what is visible to outsiders.


    Very true.
     
  12. Accidental Investor

    Accidental Investor Member

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    It's heartbreaking that in these regions the vulnerable are even more exploited! GRRR. There are so many people who want to do good, but then are told their efforts may have caused harm. It's disheartening and makes people feel cynical about giving back. The voluntourism industry is not always good - needs a serious overhaul. In the last 3 years I've been wondering where to donate, how to choose good charities. Came across this concept of "Effective Altruism" that addresses some of these questions, .e.g. how to find charities that are high impact, transparent, cost-effective, not corrupt! etc.

    Disclaimer: I volunteer for one of these groups (we are completely volunteer-run with 100% of donations going straight to the vetted charities) but *NOT* here to solicit donations at all so I will not mention the charity I volunteer at. Just to flag this concept to those who are interested and an encouragement: that there are increasingly groups of people trying to ask how to make our money, skills, career, time or knowledge go a long way to help others the most :) (and not be taken advantaged of by unscrupulous people).

    p.s. my friends go to Thailand to teach English to refugees, another friend helped an orphanage in Cambodia. It's not all bad news. Sometimes some benefits cannot be quantified. We just need to be selective and careful, a bit like buying IPs ;)
     
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