Burmese Tourist AttractionsMyanmar Tourist Attractions
If kids become tourist attractions
Grigory was stopping in front of a small, dilapidated house. While we refused his invitation to enter, the guidebook Ko San Win says the home is a favourite stopover on the routes of visitors there. A few travellers ask us if they can see kids in an asylum, so we take them there when we go to Dala," he said.
It is not the only Myanmar home that welcomes visitors through its gates. According to UNICEF, the number of visitors to tourist homes and voluntary work, generally known as "orphanage tourism", is increasing. Ophanage travel is already widespread throughout Southeast Asia, especially in Cambodia and northern Thailand, where a number of homes are charging up to $400 a weekly for volunteer spending quality holidays with orphaned children.
Tessa Boudrie, a specialist in the field of parental control, says it has made the homes an independent travel centre in these states. So, you go to the spas, you go to Angkor Wat and you finish it with a trip to an orphanage," she said. As the number of Myanmar residents continues to grow, the phenomena is also expanding here, with a series of sites that offer tourist the chance to "give back a piece of true live and true people" by either learning English or simply "come by and say hello to the lovable children".
However, while the public think it is a good way to make a good difference for the nation, UNICEF says that well-intentioned "volunteer tourists" who give the orphanage more than benefit by accidentally fueling the need for orphaned children throughout Southeast Asia. "We have seen in other places that the public see an orphanage as a way of making wares.
Outcasts go to an abandoned home and find themselves shock or sad about what they see and want to give donations. If you have many visitors who give donations, it becomes a good deal for the head of the orphanage," says James Gray, UNICEF's children safety sp? cialist. "You' see homes opening up where the tourist is," Gray said.
"Over a five-year timeframe, Cambodia has opened 75 per cent more tourist and 75 per cent more new homes. "He admits that visitors donate "with the best intentions", but says that they could actually be part of the issue and not the work.
"Waisenhaustourismus is creating more homes for orphans.... By constructing homes and maintaining simple terms that do not keep kids in the best possible circumstances, it is more likely to draw people's hearts and receive more donations," he said. Last May, UNICEF was host to a meeting in Cambodia of the Vice Secretary of Humanitarian Affairs, Aid and Relocation, U Phone Swe, with members of civic organisations working against the country's alarming childcare upsurge.
In the aftermath of the mission, the authorities undertook to introduce a suspension to stop the construction of new homes for orphans in Myanmar. It is an important move, says Gray, although it does not help the tens of thousand orphans. UNICEF research on Myanmar enrolled orphans found that 73% of orphans in homes had one or both survived, which dispelled the legend that an orphanage is for a child without a parent.
But the number of orphans has risen: in 2010, 17,322 orphans lived in 217 recorded institutions, up from 14,410 in 177 in 2006. According to UNICEF, behind most of these cases is severe extreme poverty. This is because they believe they have better accessibility to nutrition, housing and schooling.
However, there is compelling proof of the adverse effects of home healthcare on the well-being of youngsters. UNICEF says orphans should be the last option. However, the dangers faced by orphans do not end there. Parental control specialists also fear that malicious aliens visit homes to have face-to-face contacts with orphans.
A number of cases of sexually abused by managers of privately owned homes have been reported in other South East Asia states. Boudrie says there are already signs that paedophiles are approaching Myanmar to plunder endangered people. It says that regardless of their intention, visitors and voluntary workers are not permitted to go to orphanages because they endanger already under age.
One UK voluntary who is supporting several Yangon homes said that warning about voluntary work in the homes was "outrageous". My visited orphanage kids are very popular and caring and much luckier than some of the kids living with their families," said the voluntary who asked not to be called.
"When I no longer go to the orphanage, the children will have another member of the extended orphanage. Foreign nationals give help that Myanmar often cannot provide and certainly any help is good," she said. However, children conservation specialists say that voluntary tourism helps to separate homes by legitimising nonexistent establishments.
Without volunteer and donor assistance, they would not even be there and the kids would be taken care of by their community or large families - where they feel better. Currently, proof that Myanmar's visit to an asylum is only an anecdote. UNICEF, however, wants to increase consciousness of this topic in order to avoid an escalation like in neighboring states.
UNICEF and the Myanmar Department of Social Welfare organized a national platform to prevent family separation in Myanmar in May 2014. Bringing together 150 attendees from civic societies, consulates, government, industry and healthcare providers, the event aims to increase public understanding that many of our kids are needlessly segregated from their family and that raising them in homes increases the risks of child labour and abuses.
The UNICEF is also working with the Myanmar tourist and tourist industries to increase public consciousness of the effects of childcare in Myanmar, which includes a range of educational seminars for guidebooks and operators. "Guidebooks are the local people with the tourist, so it is important that they understand this area.
When they get a call to take a tourist to an abandoned sanctuary, they can try to try to get them to think twice about it," says Gray.