Another major volunteering company has joined the global movement to end orphanage tourism by severing all links with overseas orphanages.

Projects Abroad, a leading volunteering organisation based in the United Kingdom and Australia, has been facilitating trips to orphanages in places such as Africa, Asia and South America over the last two decades.

In an announcement last week, Projects Abroad declared that it will end all partnerships with orphanages at the end of the year and will no longer set up visits to overseas institutions.

The Australian manager of Projects Abroad, Will Pashley says to the ABC, “The company is responding to research into the orphanage ‘industry’ which shows many children in orphanages have living family members.”

“It has become clear that there are a growing number of orphanage-type settings where it is effectively child trafficking,” Will said.

This is consistent with the findings of Save the Children and Friends International, child-focused not-for-profits, which estimates between 80%-90% of children in orphanages are “paper orphans’ — children with at least one living family member

Friends International says in The Guardian, “[Children] are often exploited to attract tourist dollars, and can be subjected to abuse and forced labour, while deprived of food, education and safety.”

Read more: Overseas Visits to Orphanages Could be Outlawed in Australia

“Some of these orphanages are well-intentioned but most of them are for profit and some of them are run by organised crime because ultimately children in these facilities are a commodity," West Australian Senator Linda Reynolds, a key campaigner against orphanage tourism says to the ABC.

Senator Reynolds expressed her support in regards to the decision of Project Abroad and other organisations such as Intrepid Travel and World Challenge who have also withdrawn their participation and stop volunteering placements at overseas orphanages.

In an interview with Pro Bono Australia, Reynolds says, “I’m delighted the travel and volunteering sectors now recognise that there are better ways to help vulnerable children, and are moving towards supporting community and family-based care.”

Rather than promoting volunteering at orphanages, Projects Abroad  will now focus on community-based care where children are not institutionalised. This enables the children to remain in their own communities and maintain their essential familial connections.  

Earlier this year, following a parliamentary inquiry, Australia became the first country in the world to recognise orphanage volunteerism as a form of modern slavery and is currently considering legislating restrictions on visits and donations to overseas orphanages.

“We are setting up an education program so that church groups, schools, service clubs, all the people who do go overseas with the best intentions, do so in a much more informed way," Reynolds told the ABC.

Global Citizen campaigns on ending extreme poverty. Global Citizen recognises that in order to have a world that is equal and fair for all, all forms of trafficking, especially child trafficking must be abolished. Take action here


Demand Equity

Another Leading Volunteering Company Cuts Ties With Orphanage Tourism

By Kim Nguyen