‘Most of the children still have parents’: behind the facade of a Bali orphanage

An orphanage using the name of an Australian Bali bombing victim has been accused of sourcing children with living parents from a remote island to help solicit donations from western tourists.

Former volunteers and staff, in interviews with the Guardian, said up to five tour groups could be moved through the orphanage each day, bringing donations, potential sponsorships, food and gifts.

Only a handful of the children are orphans, despite the institution marketing itself as an orphanage for more than a decade.

In recent months, as pressure mounted in the Australian parliament to stop orphanage tourism, the institution rebranded itself as Jodie O’Shea House. The word “orphanage” has been removed from parts of its website.

The formal complaint alleged the centre was operating without a proper licence, and helped facilitate an adoption to a western tourist.

The Guardian has seen photos of the baby who was allegedly adopted and a copy of the passport of a Canadian man who staff said took the child.

“The baby was just gone,” a former worker, Tim*, said. “Someone very quickly adopted the baby. I think he is from Canada, and I’m not happy with that part.”

The complaint also alleged lax child protection measures were putting children at risk. Tourists had been able to take children on unaccompanied trips away from the orphanage, the complaint said.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.