Begging ALERT - to all the journalist bloggers I know:
Please please write something encouraging well meaning volunteers NOT to apply to volunteer in an orphanage in Nepal.
Many volunteer sending organisations will be offering this opportunity right now - it will be so tempting - but it's virtually impossible to know if orphanages are reputable and not businesses set up to exploit the "orphans" of the earthquake.
Martin Punaks of Next Generation Nepal (an NGO on the ground in Nepal that works to reunite trafficked children with their families) warns:
"The earthquake in Nepal has affected nearly 2 million children. At NGN we believe we could be heading for another catastrophe - we are seeing warning signs that hundreds if not thousands of children could be trafficked to 'orphanages' in Kathmandu. They will be used as profit making tools to raise funds from well-meaning foreigners who want to help the relief work, and denied the chance to grow up with their families. We need to act NOW to stop this! The task is huge and we need every rupee we can get. If you can something to these children avoid a childhood of exploitation, please consider supporting us. Thank you."
I am a member of the steering committee for an initiative- one of whose aims is to educate potential volunteers on the perils of volunteering in orphanages - you can see a precis of our work here
The aim of the project is to reduce the practice of volunteering in residential care, and enable more resources and support to be directed towards more positive models of care.
Martin Punaks of Next Generation Nepal is also a steering committee member - we all have grave concerns that the earthquake in Nepal will be seen as a business opportunity for unscrupulous "entrepreneurs" in Nepal - who will "buy" children from economically poor families and then use them to attract volunteer traveller dollars - it's happening now - it will only get worse - we really need the help of anyone with a platform to stop this.