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Churches urged to rethink mission trips over orphanage trafficking concerns

Wed 18 Apr 2018
By Cara Bentley

There's concern that short-term mission trips to orphanages around the world could be doing more harm than good.

Krish Kandiah, the founder of Home for Good, a fostering and adoption charity, wants the UK to adopt a law which is being brought in in Australia which would limit the often non-intentional funding of orphanages where children may be exploited.

He told Premier: "One of the things the Australian government has been really revolutionary on is taking the modern day slavery bill that was here in the UK and adding to it a clause around orphan trafficking."

Explaining what orphanage trafficking is, Rebecca Nhep joint CEO of ACCIC international relief, an aid and development agency in Australia, told Premier: "It's a type of human trafficking that involves the recruitment and movement of children, primarily from their families and communities into institutional care settings for the purpose of exploitation, which can look like harbouring children in situations which are detrimental to their care and detrimental to their development or it can also look like for the purpose of orphanage trafficking."

Rebecca said many churches don't know that it is "a business model, whereby children are being used as the commodity in order to illicit and attract for funding and donations."

Often these orphanages are funded by generous donations, foreign aid budgets and visits from church groups but the supply supersedes the 'demand', therefore keeping children in homes and sometime kept intentionally undernourished.

Rebecca added: "Not every orphanage that's out there is exploiting children…but there is certainly an industry that has been created."

Listen to the full interview with Premier's Cara Bentley, speaking to Krish and Rebecca here: 

"The church has certainly become a key player in this place because we have been historically very involved in supporting children's care in overseas countries and in overseas mission trips as well."

Particularly in countries where the care system is privatised, there is less regulation and there is more likely to be orphanages in which children actually have parents but are in homes because of poverty.

Krish Kandiah added that in Cambodia, 80% of children in orphanages have parents.

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