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Vietnam forum

orphanage to visit Vietnam?

Posted by jeninoz on 19/10/2007 at 17:08

Would like to visit an orphanage in southern vietnam to give gifts and donations and also meet the kids does anyone know one or been to one?

#1 jeninoz has been a member since 10/10/2007. Posts: 1

Posted by hansyen on 19/10/2007 at 18:25

Hoi An Orphanage
04 Nguyen Truong To Street
Hoi An Town
Quang Nam Province
Viet Nam

For information and donations you can better contact the people of the following websites

In English:

#2 hansyen has been a member since 2/4/2007. Posts: 27

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Posted by Rubixx on 13/8/2011 at 15:00

Tong Phuoc Phuc Abortion Orphanage
56/3 Phương Sài
Nha Trang, Vietnam
Cell: 011.84.913.444.016

I am posting in case others are interested in doing this.

#3 Rubixx has been a member since 27/6/2011. Posts: 11

Posted by Rubixx on 13/8/2011 at 15:02

^ Oops. It didn't recognise Vietnamese characters.

Address is as follows:
56/3 Phuong Sai
Nha Trang, Vietnam

#4 Rubixx has been a member since 27/6/2011. Posts: 11

Posted by oscarcat on 31/8/2011 at 10:58

Why not combine a trip to an orphanage in the morning with a trip to Saigon Zoo and Botanical Gardens in the afternoon? Sorry I can't recommend any orphanages to visit in HCMC, I'm sure there's a few tho?

#5 oscarcat has been a member since 11/11/2008. Location: Cambodia. Posts: 66

Posted by Suturn on 20/7/2012 at 09:58

Posted from within Vietnam.

I don't see a single good reason why average people should visit an orphanage, in Vietnam as in the rest of the world.
Actually, luckily, there's an association campaigning against this insane habit: here is the FB page

Children are not a tourist attraction, I believe many people go to the orphanages with this intention of "emotional experience" which is completely wrong from how I see it. We cannot use children to feel better with ourselves, to feel charitable, open-hearted or whatever. Another thing I really don't understand is this passion people have for photographing children. I'm trying to reflect about it these days... by which process a Person becomes a (photo) Subject? What's different in foreign children from the ones we see in our home town? Why do we want to photograph the former and not the latter? Isn't it just part of a big illusion of exotism?

#6 Suturn has been a member since 14/4/2012. Location: Italy. Posts: 28
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Posted by Meshan on 20/7/2012 at 12:39

Sorry, just a lurker butting in.

UNCEF and other NGO's highly discourage tourists visiting orphanages while on holiday. Children in orphanages are vulnerable and entitled to security and privacy. How would you feel if foreign tourists just turned up and started visiting orphans in your home town? Are you a trained to work with vulnerable children?

If you want to help, find a local charity and donate money or crayons.

Off the UNICEF Website
"UNICEF is concerned about the emotional loss that the children may feel from exposure to a revolving door of volunteers"

UNICEF, have launched a campaign Think Child Safe: ‘Children Are Not Tourist Attractions

#7 Meshan has been a member since 19/7/2012. Posts: 4

Posted by busylizzy on 20/7/2012 at 18:46

Suturn - I wholeheartedly agree with your comments about not visiting orphanages and using them as a tourist attraction and as a means of making ourselves feel good and virtuous. I can understand why people want to do it - I went through that process myself a few years ago. But after doing more and more research about it, I came to understand that the 'orphanage tourism industry' does more harm than good. Meshan makes some good suggestions about donating to orphanages instead as a more valuable contribution if people want to experience the 'feel good factor' and still make a difference in some small way.

You raise some interesting points about photographing children. Guilty as charged. And it's something that I have questioned myself on - about the desire to photograph people when travelling (adults and children). I generally don't photograph people up close without asking permission first (and respect their choice when they say no). But I do love capturing the character of their faces, and people going about their daily routine. But I often forego good photo ops because so often it just doesn't feel right.

I don't feel inclined photographing people in the same way at home. People that you meet when travelling in regions so vastly different to your own are far more interesting- just because of the differences in how we go about our daily lives.

There are two aspects to taking photos of people for me: it's partly about just honing the photography skills, trying to take nice portraits, etc. But more importantly, taking photos serves as a reminder of those enjoyable moments that I had interacting with locals. I do tend to take more photos of children - but I think this is because kids enjoy having their pics taken and it allows some fun interaction with them. I often carry balloons around with me - they're light to carry, and make kids faces light up. It gives me a chance to have fun with the kids, and converse with the parents on some level and to meet people that I might not otherwise have met, as brief as that moment is.

It's an interesting topic. I enjoy taking the pics but it does cause that inner conflict at times. I do try to be respectful of people, and don't do it intrusively. I often will use a small point and shoot rather than my bigger SLR to that it doesn't so intimidating - especially when visiting outside the larger cities, towns and touristy areas.

#8 busylizzy has been a member since 31/12/2007. Location: New Zealand. Posts: 2,152
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Posted by Suturn on 5/8/2012 at 03:59

Posted from within Vietnam.

Hi busylizzy, thank you for your reflections. It shows that you really reflected a lot about your relationship with photographs and their subjects.

I thought about an answer to your question and I'll focus on the effect it has on those who are portraited.
If we might suppose that photography can be empowering and collectively significant for the fates of those who are represented (think about the war reportages, the Napalm Girl, the tribes in the Amazon struggling to remain uncontacted...) we must suppose there's also a way it can be disempowering, apolitical and in general demeaning for its subjects.

If in my shots for example are featured small inhabitants of poor countries in the white arms of western people the observer might think: "how cosy! This person is an hero! I should do the same..." this is at least what I used to think.

Or even children smiling at a camera. They give an image of happiness completely out of context. I'm tired of listening to western people say: "In Afica/Asia/South America I've seen the biggest smiles (likely they didn't go there themselves), children are joyful with nothing, whereas here..."
When a camera comes in those places it might be a celebration: it means money (one gives a small tip after this heart-warming experience, isn't that?), sweets, toys, balloons...
Would you consider birthday photographs of American children (btw, why they always look slightly scary with those dental braces?) a genuine proof of their happiness?

When the camera turns off those children go back to their daily life of infections, illiteracy and hardship. Does the image tell that as well? Is the immage the occasion for a (sustainable) change? It's, in "one" word, collectively/politically meaningful?

May I ask how those portraits will end up? Will you keep them as a memory for yourself (which sounds super-ok!) or will you show them also to someone else?
Consider that the others, not knowing the context of that shot, might give a meaning completely different from yours and that un-harmful picture, if you stick with my idea, might then become disempowering.

NB I'm not saying people should go around and carelessly take photographs of unhappy people, because THAT is REAL. This is, regrettably, already done during the slum tours (I liked this article IMHO do it only if you want to pursue a serious program for trying to change things!

#9 Suturn has been a member since 14/4/2012. Location: Italy. Posts: 28
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