Volunteer Companies and Project Owners Exploitation of Innocent Children and Volunteers

Juliana Ruhfus and Matt Haan went to Cambodia to investigate allegations that owners of orphanages and some companies that send volunteers abroad are exploiting the generous nature of gap year students and others that want to do good by offering to help in developing countries, and invest time and money into a wide variety of projects.


children have a right to be treated respectfully and properly by every society


While most volunteers travel to Cambodia with the very best intentions there are increasing stories of child exploitation by some of the companies organizing volunteers or the owners of the orphanages that run them for profit and not for the needs of the children. In many cases companies fail to run background criminal record checks leaving these very vulnerable children open to sexual abuse and sex trafficking.

This disturbing documentary film by Juliana Ruhfus and Matt Haan highlights the way children and volunteers are being exploited in a rapidly growing market for volunteerism abroad.

There are also serious allegations about Projects Abroad which is large global volunteer organization (it’s probably not the first time you may have heard about this organization and I don’t think it will be the last!)As founder of Pledging for Change I am more than happy to include this documentary as I too have a responsibility to help make a difference and to make sure these disgusting practices and exploitation are brought to everyone’s attention until they are stamped out and closed down for good.


Increasing numbers of tourists including well-intentioned volunteers keen to help war-torn Cambodia are volunteering in the country’s orphanages. Volumes of research around the world have shown that orphanage care is associated with long-term psychological concerns. People & Power investigates the concept of “voluntourism” which is inadvertently doing more harm than good to Cambodian children, as well as the disturbing trend of exploitation by some companies that organise volunteers or run orphanages.



If you are thinking of volunteering then make sure you get connected to companies like People and Places for responsible volunteering. People and places are transparent in everything they do (as you can see here in this post on Responsible Volunteering) and carry out proper risk assessments to protect both volunteers and the communities they will be helping.

Have you been volunteering abroad recently? We really hope you have a positive story to tell.


Img srcd and adpated from: http://www.flickr.com/photos/gregwalters/2063772225/

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