Following the announcement of a new Anti-Voluntourism campaign in Cambodia and a candid blog post circulating around the tourism world (click here to read the full article), we take a look at the importance of responsible and sustainable planning, and how - at African Impact - we ensure that our projects are more than just a tourist attraction. Our Charity Development Manager - Leonora - discusses in more detail: "Over the last ten years working in Children’s Homes the reason for children being placed in care has changed very little, the word orphanage and orphan has always been over used. If you are to go into any children’s home anywhere in the world, very few of the children will be what we traditionally classify as an orphan. For a child to be classified as an orphan in South Africa they need to have lost one parent, which would then include a huge number of children. Now even if a child has lost both parents, that does not necessarily warrant that they need to live in a children’s home, as the last option is removal. First social service should try and explore all reliable family members. Many of the children that fill homes are there for other reasons, such as abuse, rape, neglect, financial situation, behaviour issues and so on. Many of these children will have family, who just are unable to care for them. The number of children needing care all over the world is increasing daily, but this is more related to the ills of society than the impact of foreign money. The governments of most nations are aware of these issues and with that they are trying to create viable solutions. But with the currently global financial crisis the reality is that without foreign donations most children’s homes would not be able to function, because government subsidy is simply not enough. In South Africa you are now not able to register new children’s homes, as the government sees the issues with raising children in homes. This is not because of the foreign volunteers, but because of the care required by the individual child. Being that many of these children come from horrendous situations, they need the love and care that a home simply cannot provide. So foster homes are now considered the optimum option for children in care or cluster homes with a house mother. Child protection legislation is meant to be followed by all organisations brining in volunteers (both national and international) to children’s homes. This would ensure the issues that arise in the article do not become an issue. All volunteers should also be provided training in youth at risk and child protection policy. The children’s act in South Africa forbids photography of children’s faces and also ensures that all volunteers are checked on the international child abuse register. International volunteers are mostly coming from countries that have strict child protection procedures are followed and as volunteer organisations we should ensure that such standards are also practiced in the children’s homes and community projects we work with. Volunteers can bring many positive aspects to a project if managed appropriately. Children’s Homes are often understaffed due to funding and volunteers provide enthusiastic people to come and assist. Saying this it is very important that it is well managed to make sure that the children do not grow up with attachment issues and that local staff are not disempowered. There are times where the love provided by a volunteer can change the path of a child’s life but it is our job to ensure that this is always a positive change. Volunteers also provide funding for programmes not covered by government funding, such as private education, extra mural activities and therapy, all of which are necessary for the rehabilitation and development of the child." Do you have an opinion? Let us know in the comments section or join in the debate on Facebook or Twitter (#voluntourism)!