There are many countries where, even if you’re not on a volunteer vacation per se, helping out by reading stories or playing games with kids in orphanages is a perfectly wonderful idea. But in Cambodia, especially around popular tourist areas such as Siam Reap and the capital of Phnom Penh, unscrupulous adults recruit kids–sometimes yanking them out of school–to serve as objects of pity in sub-standard orphanages.
The motive is to pull on your heartstrings and separate you from some of your cash. Little of which benefits the kids.
A number of articles on the subject written by employees of non-profit organizations in Cambodia brought this to my attention recently. So I had John Lowrie on my weekend show recently. He works with a number of development organizations there—has for 13 years. He’s very familiar with the orphanage scam and strongly suggests you check with World Vision or Friends International to see if the orphanage you’re invited to visit is legitimate.
Do good, but do right.