A coalition of NGOs hopes to stem the flow of donor money to Cambodian orphanages with a new a campaign featuring images of children packaged as dolls labelled “My New Orphan” and a disturbing cartoon.
Friends International, UNICEF and USAID launched the “Don’t Create More Orphans” campaign, which also includes a short online video showing a happy child plucked from her family village and deposited into an “orphan machine”, on Thursday.
Friends has previously targeted orphanage “voluntourists” but is now lobbying “the public, the foundations, and the faith-based organisations” not to support a “critically flawed and harmful industry”, given that most children living in such institutions have parents and reportedly do not need to be in institutional care.
Friends spokesman James Sutherland said that donors should be focusing on supporting community-based initiatives that keep families together.
“Invariably, people’s intentions are good, but what you are actually doing is harming children,” he said.
Toch Channy, director-general of technical affairs at the Ministry of Social Affairs, said the government supports the new campaign.
“Cambodia is developing. We don’t want to see more orphanages. We are trying to reduce them,” he said.
Chin Sokha, who runs an orphanage with 39 children in Siem Reap that relies on donations from foreign tourists, said that the government has implemented much more stringent oversight in the past two years.
Additional reporting by Chhay Channyda