This segment from Roundtable explores the issue of voluntourism and its potential to yield harmful impacts. The participants, including Georgette Mulheir the CEO of Lumos, discuss orphanage voluntourism among other forms of voluntourism. Mulheir explains that most children in orphanages around the world have been found to have at least one living parent and decades of research indicates the institutionalization of children in harmful to their development and wellbeing, "which is why we don't do it in developed countries anymore." Volunteers and donors, however, are often unknowingly fueling an orphanage industry perpetuating the institutionalization of children around the world, despite evidence that they would fare far better in families. "The desire to volunteer in orphanages," Mulheir says, "has actually driven the development of orphanages and has probably driven millions of children into them, who would otherwise have been in their families."
Participants in the roundtable also discussed how voluntourism deprives local people of work and the opportunity to build skills and expertise by "eroding their agency." "Why are we having gap year kids come and volunteer at orphanages when we have community centers and community families that could actually take care of them?" says Teddy Ruge, Social Change Advocate and Entrepreneur.