Establishing an orphanage in Cambodia is relatively easy. The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child states that the long-term institutionalization of children should be a last option. Supporting the family so that it can stay together is best for the child, yet most orphanages go straight to the last option.

To work in an orphanage in Cambodia you do not need to be qualified in child care, child education and pedagogy, child psychology, child health and nutrition, or child counseling. Some orphanages even rely on unqualified, untrained, inexperienced volunteers.

For foreign organizations, it is often easier to set up an orphanage than it would be to start a family based care program, as the second requires knowing the local language and culture and takes more time and effort, though often less money. Additionally, raising funds for an “orphanage”, as most are called even though the children have parents, is much easier than raising funds for parent education programs or family based care. As long as travelers and donors continue to look to fund orphanages, rather than searching out more globally recognized and beneficial forms of alternative child-care, we will continue to obstruct the rights of children. Raising funds for orphanages needs to become hard, people need to ask more questions before they give money, and foundations and non-governmental organizations need to stop choosing the easy option of setting up an orphanage. We need to break the cycle.