Cambodian government to investigate orphanages after UN concern

March 23, 2011
Phnom Penh - The Cambodian government has started inspecting hundreds of orphanages after the UN children's agency UNICEF said it was worried children were at risk, in part from 'volunteer tourism.'

The Cambodia Daily newspaper reported Wednesday that a spokesman for the Ministry of Social Affairs had confirmed action commenced out of concern for children at orphanages.

'We are conducting the inspections because we don't know how the children are treated,' said spokesman Lim El Djurado, adding that those orphanages which fell short would be closed.

Earlier this week UNICEF said there were now 269 orphanages in Cambodia, almost double the number in 2005. The number of orphans had also risen to nearly 12,000 from 5,751 over the same period.

But nearly three-quarters of 'orphans' still had at least one surviving parent, which raised questions as to why so many children were being institutionalized.

UNICEF country head Richard Bridle told the German Press Agency dpa that just 21 orphanages were state-funded. The rest were predominantly 'overseas funded and faith-based.'

'Overseas donors are the main funders of residential care,' Bridle said. 'Many residential care centres have begun to turn to tourism to attract funders, and in doing so, are putting children at risk.'

Bridle said that so-called volunteer tourism, where foreign nationals help out at orphanages for a few days or weeks at a time during their travels, was problematic.

'Even with the best intentions, tourists and volunteers, who make significant contributions towards orphanages, are funding a system that is contributing to the separation of children from their families,' he said.

International studies have shown that care by a parent is far preferable to institutional care, and is also much cheaper.

Bridle said putting children in care 'should be a last resort.'

Rights organizations have long been concerned that some orphanages are simply thinly disguised businesses, allowing unscrupulous people to earn money from children.

Last week, the US special advisor for children's issues, Susan Jacobs, was in Cambodia to research whether the country's regulations were sufficiently stringent to allow inter-country adoptions to resume.

The US was among a number of Western nations that banned adoptions from Cambodia in 2001 after compelling evidence emerged that some children were being trafficked and sold to foreign parents.

Cambodia is looking to resume international adoptions in April under a new law that it says will accord with the Hague Adoption Convention.

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Over-seas interest in orphans

<shaking head>

My Aparents used to be landlords...

They never lived where their tenants did, and I remember being the one who had to answer in-coming phone calls at our home.  My Amother would tell me to tell any tenant who called, "my parents can't come to the phone right now, can you please leave a message?"

After a while the tenants caught-on, and said they would call back.

I HATED answering the phone at that house.  I hated how my parents had no idea (little care about) what others were going through, because they themselves were well-cared for, in their own home.

Earlier this week UNICEF said there were now 269 orphanages in Cambodia, almost double the number in 2005. The number of orphans had also risen to nearly 12,000 from 5,751 over the same period.

But nearly three-quarters of 'orphans' still had at least one surviving parent, which raised questions as to why so many children were being institutionalized.

UNICEF country head Richard Bridle told the German Press Agency dpa that just 21 orphanages were state-funded. The rest were predominantly 'overseas funded and faith-based.'

'Overseas donors are the main funders of residential care,' Bridle said. 'Many residential care centerers have begun to turn to tourism to attract funders, and in doing so, are putting children at risk.'

Bridle said that so-called volunteer tourism, where foreign nationals help out at orphanages for a few days or weeks at a time during their travels, was problematic.

'Even with the best intentions, tourists and volunteers, who make significant contributions towards orphanages, are funding a system that is contributing to the separation of children from their families,' he said.

I'm highly suspect of long-distance philanthropic ventures. 

Celebrities are especially "vulnerable" to the woes of charity.

I remember when Oprah opened her Leadership Academy in S. Africa -- the hopes and intentions were so good...

Millions of dollars went into this project.

In two years, two major sex-scandals broke-out. The first took place just ten months after the first pupils were admitted.  Fifteen girls claimed a matron employed by the establishment sexually abused them. Virginia Tiny Makgobo faced 13 charges, including indecent assault, common assault, assaulting a minor to perform an indecent act and verbal abuse of pupils. She was acquitted, much to Oprah's disappointment.

The second scandal, a fifteen year old was accused of preying upon a schoolmate and coercing others into lying to officials investigating the alleged incidents.

Six other pupils have been excluded from the $46 million (£32 million) girls-only boarding school after being alleged to have touched each other intimately, or "intimidating others into partaking of inappropriate behaviors".

A letter sent to one of the suspended girls' parents is said to have read: "You have been found guilty of physical contact of a sexual nature with another pupil on campus, harassment, bullying other girls on campus and of being dishonest by not telling investigators the whole truth".

The girl claims the accusations are false and has blamed other girls.

[From:  Oprah Winfrey school in South Africa faces second sex scandal, March 31, 2009 ] 

Less than two years later, a new scandal has hit the news.

The baby's body was found last Wednesday in a bag the 17-year-old girl brought to a hospital where she was being treated for excessive bleeding, police Lt. Col. Lungelo Dlamini told ABC News in a statement.

It is believed that the girl, who has not been identified, gave birth at her school, the Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls, which is located outside Johannesburg.

No charges have been filed against the girl and police will discuss the case with the Director for Public Prosecutions once the investigation has been finalized.

Police Capt. Shado Mashobane confirmed to local newspapers that the girl is still recovering in the hospital.

A spokesperson for Winfrey's academy in Chicago told ABC News that it would not comment on the incident because a minor is involved.

[From: Cops Probe Body of Dead Newborn Found at Oprah Winfrey's School, February 18, 2011 ]

If this is what happens in a very well funded private school, funded by an advocate for those who have been sexually abused.... what is going on in orphanages NOT so well-funded?

One of my favorite (and saddest) orphanage stories I like to share with others involves an Cambodian/American, who went-back to help his people.  [See: Haing Ngor, Orphans, Orphanages, Cambodia ]

It's not-so-amazing to see how a benefactor's in-person help/supervision makes a real difference to the care given to children.  With in-person visits, the benefactors can see, first-hand where their donations are going, and how those donations benefit those who could use the donations most-- the children and the parents of those children.

Such a wonderful gift, for all involved!

This "outside interest" in Cambodia... it doesn't have anything to do with The Orphan Crusade, and Cambodia's plan to resume ICA, does it?

Who is expected to help fund these "new" orphanages in Cambodia - that have doubled in number - pedophiles and PAPs?

Just say no, Susan Jacobs!

Let's hope Susan Jacobs has an ounce of common sense (chances: next to zero) and will realize that clearly there are already problems and issues of concern here as addressed by UNICEF. The Hague doesn't offer sufficient protections for children and first families .... It's a gigantic wasted effort. And my sick gut feeling is that the door will be pried open for ICA as soon as possible, despite the blatant writing on the wall.

It looks like the 'volunteer tourism' trade is paving the way (or acting as a place holder) for the A-trade. Getting their feet firmly entrenched before the boom. The majority of both the A-trade and the volunteer tourism trade are Christian or faith based. Could I be so cynical to consider that this was part of the plan all along?

Pound Pup Legacy