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Theses Master's

The Harms of Orphanage Voluntourism: Misperceptions among Volunteers

Havens, Holly

Volunteer tourism is a form of travel that allows participants to engage in a charity project in a developing country. The popularity of working with impoverished children is increasing the demand for orphans, and incentivizes those involved in the orphanage industry to bring children from villages to orphanages in highly frequented tourist areas. This research project focuses on the perception of volunteers and their experience volunteering at an orphanage. A qualitative approach was used involving surveys and semi-structured interviews with females between the ages of 20-25 who had previously volunteered at an orphanage abroad. Evidence from this research suggests that most volunteers are unaware of the harms caused by orphanage tourism such as attachment disorders, abuse, and family separation. I argue that this lack of education is one of the main reasons that orphanage tourism remains a popular volunteer option. This research project also shows that volunteers would be more inclined to help children through family reunification and family strengthening rather than spending time at an orphanage, if provided those opportunities.

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More Information

Academic Units
Institute for the Study of Human Rights
Thesis Advisors
Boothby, Neil G.
Degree
M.A., Columbia University
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