It’s human trafficking, child abuse and a crime participants often don’t even know they are part of it.
It happens in Myanmar, Nepal and other countries. An Australian adventure travel company has a strong stance on child protection and has just announced a new charitable partnership with Australia-based child protection charity Forget Me Not. This reinforces the company’s commitment to end orphanage tourism and help reunite thousands of children with their families. The new partnership is kickstarted with an A$90,000 donation, made through The Intrepid Foundation.
The company removed visits to orphanages from all itineraries by May 2016 and has been working with child protection experts to educate travellers about the reality and implications of supporting overseas orphanages for a number of years. Intrepid is now playing a leading role as part of an advocacy group that is calling for the introduction of a Modern Slavery Act in Australia.
There are 16,886 children living in orphanages in Nepal, yet 80% have at least one parent who could care for them. Many are taken from their home with the promise of a better life, only to be mistreated and abused.
Australian-based charity, Forget Me Not carries out life-changing rescue, recovery and reintegration work, educating rural communities and parents about the dangers of child trafficking and reuniting children with their families in Nepal.
“We believe every child deserves to grow up in a safe and supportive environment. In partnership with organisations like Forget Me Not and Rethink Orphanages, we are actively lobbying the Government to make Australia the first country in the world to declare visits to overseas orphanages as illegal,” James Thornton, CEO of the Intrepid Group explained.
“We are urging Australian travellers and the industry to end orphanage visits and volunteering overseas. Travellers often think they are helping, but children are not a tourist attraction. The best way to help is by supporting organisations that work to keep children with their families – that’s why we have partnered with Forget Me Not,” James Thornton declared.
The $90,000 donation comes from the Namaste Nepal appeal – launched by The Intrepid Foundation following the devastating 2015 Earthquake. The appeal raised over $750,000 in total and is already helping to rebuild a school, provide skills training for women, support a health post near Everest Basecamp and rebuild the heavily damaged Langtang Trekking route in Nepal.
“With the generous support from The Intrepid Foundation, Forget Me Not will be able to assist with the rescue, rehabilitation and family reunions of children who have been trafficked into orphanages for the purpose of profit,” said Andrea Nave CEO Forget Me Not, Australia.
“Together we made it our collective fight to free children and to get them where they belong – back with families, in their villages and in their mountains.” Anju Pun, FMN Country Director, Nepal.
Established by the founders of the Intrepid Group in 2002, The Intrepid Foundation provides travellers with a way to give back to the communities they visit. The not-for-profit organisation has raised over $5.6 million and supports more than 100 community-based projects and initiatives in areas of healthcare, education, gender equality, human rights, child welfare, sustainable development, environmental conservation and wildlife protection.