sally hetherington

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Child Protection

Cambodia, Child Protection

A Confession + Apology

I have been meaning to confess to my mistake for awhile, however it was reading this article about the ‘Afghan Girl’ that prompted me to prioritise my apology. Let me take you back to late 2011. I had been living in Cambodia for a couple of months. My Cambodian co-workers told me about a public school on the outskirts of Siem Reap where they voluntarily taught English to the students a few afternoons a week.  My interest was sparked; I needed to take a photo to promote Rotaract (a worldwide  ...

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Cambodia, Child Protection

Exposing children to abuse as voluntourists

The Cambodian women shuddered as the photo came on the screen of young foreign women holding Cambodian children in their arms. “Sally, we would never want other people to hold our children like that,” they told me. We continued through the slideshow of photos showing voluntourism activities, and they tutted as a photo appeared of a Caucasian man with Cambodian children climbing over them. “Why is this allowed?”, they asked me. I had to explain to them that unfortunately, teaching English at  ...

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Cambodia, Child Protection, Orphanages

Girls in developing countries don’t need dresses; they need education

A few months back, I received an email from a woman who runs her own charity that provides dresses to girls in developing countries. Heading to Cambodia later this year, she wanted me to suggest an orphanage in Cambodia where she could bring the handmade dresses. I told her that I did not have suggestions for orphanages in Cambodia, and gave her a link to the Orphanages No website to understand why I advocate for children to stay in the community rather than be placed in residential care. I  ...

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Cambodia, Child Protection

We aren’t all the same

“These handicrafts are all made in Cambodia, and the proceeds provide education to children,” I said with a smile on my face to the lady who approached our market stall. She smiled at me, and with an air of pretentiousness, her hands gesturing all over the place. “I have just been to Cambodia. I travelled through the Mekong. I know all about the schools. I visited them and listened to the children sing. I went out to the villages. I know all about this.” I faked a  ...

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Cambodia, Child Protection, Developing countries, Featured

We have come to play games with the children

My journey to empowerment and sustainability started as me being a voluntourist. I honestly thought that I was helping. Looking back though, I realise that I didn’t bring any benefit to the organisation. What those children from vulnerable backgrounds needed was consistency in their lives. My one month of sub-standard, often hungover teaching didn’t give them that. And you know what? There are some people who go to organisations and do the same thing I did for as little as one hour. They  ...

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Charity, Child Protection, Developing countries, Human and Hope Association, Responsible Tourism, Thoughts, Tourism, Travel

Attitudes towards developing countries must change

This week the organisation I work for, Human and Hope Association (HHA), was approached by a tour company in Cambodia. They wanted to bring 15 tourists from India to our community centre and “teach, play with the kids and do something competitive” so those tourists would have ‘team building’. We were offered a donation in return.  I was absolutely mortified. I had known that this was common practice with some tour companies, however we had never been approached to partake in these  ...

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Charity, Child Protection, Developing countries, Human and Hope Association, Social problems

There are 3,000+ NGO’s in Cambodia. This is why you should choose us.

There are at least 3,000 NGO’s in Cambodia, though this amount is likely to be much higher. These organisations, tackling issues such as illiteracy, human trafficking and the environment, are both foreign and locally run, some effective, some not. It is very difficult for a grassroots organisation to stand out in this crowd, particularly when at Human and Hope Association we do not accept foreign volunteers, instead focusing on Khmer volunteers. With that, we do forgo funding opportunities.  ...

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Child Protection, Human and Hope Association

Saying “no” to Voluntourism

There is no denying it; voluntourism is here to stay. However, at Human and Hope Association, we do not permit foreign volunteers. In the past some people have become irritated when I politely declined their offer to volunteer with us. It is not that we don’t appreciate it, it is that as a team, we decided to no longer accept foreign volunteers, and haven’t done so for over a year (and we didn’t accept teaching volunteers for a year before that). Look, I understand why  ...

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Child Protection, Poverty Tourism, Responsible Tourism, South East Asia, Tourism, Travel

Photographing Children

Yesterday I came across a blog titled ‘Hannah vs. The Street Kids’, about a lady who wouldn’t buy from the child street sellers (very good), but played a game of ‘paper, rock, scissors’ to determine whether she would or wouldn’t This whole encounter was filmed, titled and placed on YouTube. It also featured the name of the child seller. This was my feedback on the blog (which is still waiting approval as of 10:33am Cambodian time, 22nd March): It really  ...

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