There are eight of us here now, which changes the vibe of the orphanage. With so many volunteers, it seems almost like a tourist attraction and I sometimes get that sneaking feeling that I am being scammed.

I’m not, really, because I love these kids and the cultural experience, plus this is an equally beneficial career move for me. But I am paying three times the price of a local guesthouse to be here—yes, I am basically paying to do work, and I don’t really like it, but obviously there’s a market for it. And I know the money is (mostly) being used to support the kids… but still.

I guess it’s a fine line. This is a tiny project, just one family who has chosen to basically adopt a dozen children in need. And the German woman in charge has completely given up her former life as she knew it—her years of schooling as a psychotherapist, her family back in Europe, her freedom—something that I know I would never be able to do. But does the money undermine the good deed? Where does necessity end and greed begin—for her, and for us volunteers who are really just selfishly intruding on her family for tiny slots of time?

And there are so many of these projects out there, of various sizes, for various costs, and probably with various levels of corruption. So how do you judge? And what’s the best way to help?



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