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Les dangers du volontariat international auprès d’enfants orphelins du sida

Une étude interroge l’impact psychologique du turn-over de volontaires sur les enfants qui vivent en collectivité, et remet en cause cette nouvelle forme de tourisme

Mots-Clés / Humanitaire

AIDS orphan tourism : A threat to young children in residential care

  • Authors : Linda M. Richter [1] & Amy Norman [2]
  • Vulnerable Children and Youth Studies, Volume 5, Issue 3, 2010, pp 217-229
  • Abstract : The dominant global perception that sub-Saharan Africa is experiencing an “AIDS orphan crisis”, coupled with growing trends in international voluntourism, has fostered a potentially high-risk situation for already vulnerable young children in the region. This article reviews the current discourse on what is being called a crisis of care for children, as well as literature on out-of-home/family care and its adverse impacts on child development. We also describe an emerging “AIDS orphan tourism”, and show how short-term attachments formed between children in group residential care and volunteers may worsen known impacts of institutional care. This article advocates against the exploitation of especially vulnerable young children in sub-Saharan Africa for commercial gain by tour operators in the current growth of “AIDS orphan tourism”. We instead propose that young people who wish to volunteer their time and talents to assist children less fortunate than themselves be properly informed about children’s development and attachments to others, as well of the vulnerabilities and rights of young children, especially those outside of family care.
  • Conclusion : As Adebe and Aase (2007) argue, contradictory notions of orphans have been constructed by donor and recipient organizations with the aim to induce an immediacy to act. The consequence is that stereotypical images which are not representative of the nuanced, everyday lives of the vast majority of children affected by HIV/AIDS are both constructed and reproduced. In such constructions, the child is disconnected from context, alone and with no available support mechanisms (Ruddick, 2003). It is this discourse that permeates the landscape of “children and HIV/AIDS” for the international media, NGOs and now tourism operators. Although the HIV/AIDS epidemic is clearly having a deleterious impact on families and children in sub-Saharan Africa, we are concerned about the ever-increasing number of residential facilities being established, a vast number of which remain unregistered and operate outside of the law (Abdulla et al., 2007). On this landscape, the growing international volunteer tourism industry is placing very young, vulnerable children at increased risk. This article draws attention to the many young vulnerable children currently living in residential care in sub-Saharan Africa. Residential care as a viable, sustainable option to the challenges of caring for children in the context of the HIV/AIDS epidemic presents enormous challenges. Further, the consensus remains that such care often causes serious problems for the short- and long-term development of children. Repeated disruptions of attachment and abandonments in the form of “AIDS orphan tourism” exacerbate these risks. For these reasons, this article makes a number of points : the first is that every resource should be utilized to support families to enable them to provide high-quality care for their children. Out-of-home residential care should not be an option when support can be given to families to take care of their children. Second, children out of parental care have a right to protection, including against experiences that are harmful for them. In particular, they have a right to be protected against repeated broken attachments as a result of rapid staff turnover in orphanages, exacerbated by care provided by short-term volunteers. Third, welfare authorities must act against voluntourism companies and residential homes that exploit misguided international sympathies to make profits from the conditions in which vulnerable young children are placed. Last, well-meaning young people should be made aware of the potential consequences of their own involvement in these care settings, be discouraged from taking part in such tourist expeditions and be given guidelines on how to manage relationships to minimize negative outcomes for young children.
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[1] Child, Youth and Family Development, Human Sciences Research Council, Durban, South Africa

[2] Queen Mary, University of London, London

VOIR EN LIGNE : Taylor & Francis
Publié sur OSI Bouaké le dimanche 2 octobre 2011