Profit orphanages: The human rights crisis that's flying under the radar

CNN Op-Ed by Michelle Oliel, Stahili Foundation


(CNN)Every year, thousands of well-meaning individuals make the decision to travel to developing countries on short-term visits, setting their sights on aiding vulnerable children. However, the destination for many of these travelers is an orphanage.

Orphanage volunteering and the industry that has emerged to support it have contributed to a system in Kenya and other parts of the world that creates a demand for institutions and children.
The perfect “buyers” are fee-paying voluntourists — well-intentioned individuals who want to help. Preying on these good intentions, orphanages claim to provide care for “orphans,” but in reality, these organizations are often sources of profit for sometimes unscrupulous operators who recruit children to orphanages and exploit them for financial gain. What volunteers and donors who give their time and money often don’t know is that the majority of the children living in institutions have families.
To enact lasting change, former volunteers are also demanding accountability. For example, a lawsuit brought in Chicago by attorney Beth Fegan is using the US civil courts to hold a religious-based organization accountable for allegedly raising money to enrich itself through activities that violate international and Kenyan law, including exploiting children, misleading voluntourists and donors, and harassing and threatening a whistleblower from reporting or disclosing allegations.
Read the full article here.