While we are enjoying the grand temples of Vientiane, the mighty Mekong region and the towering limestone karst scenery of Laos, there is a big problem that needs our attention. Where there is poverty and large numbers of relatively affluent visitors, sadly there are also opportunistic exploiters of children.
Intrepid is a proud supporter of the ChildSafe network in South East Asia and their work to protect children from all kinds of abuse. Part of the Intrepid Foundation’s 2009 donation to Peuan Mit in Laos is contributing towards ChildSafe training for hotel staff.
ChildSafe member hotels commit to respect and enforce the ChildSafe hotel policy on their premises by practicing the following:
* All management, reception staff and guards receive the ChildSafe policy training.
* Ensure all staff keep their ‘eyes wide open’ to protect children.
* In case of a situation of child abuse, or that could lead to a child being abused, they must inform the police and ChildSafe partners and keep the child safe until relevant authorities step in.
ChildSafe member hotels will not:
* Allow children younger than 18 years to sell goods or enter the hotel unaccompanied.
* Allow children under 18 years into rooms unless accompanied by parents or legitimate guardian.
* Publish or broadcast videos, magazines or any kind of material which features child pornography or any form of violence towards children.
* Provide any source of information on child prostitution.
Should Intrepid travellers witness any of the above points not being respected, please contact the 24-hour Tourist Police Hotline #192 in Laos, or appropriate authorities in other countries.
ChildSafe recommend travellers avoid buying goods from children and refrain from giving to begging children. This is because when the children receive money it encourages them to continue on the streets. If you want to help, please support organisations that provide direct services for them.
So what else can you do to help make a difference? You can help protect marginalised children and youth in Laos through Peuan Mit’s projects – enabling more children and young people to participate in education and training. All donations via The Intrepid Foundation will be matched by Intrepid Travel dollar for dollar, up to AU$5,000 per donor and a total of AU$300,000 for all donors in each financial year.
* photo by Jessie May – Intrepid Photography Competition