The Scam of Fake Orphanages in Cambodia

Thousands of children in Cambodia live in orphanages even though their parents are still alive. Some of the institutions exist solely to make money from tourists. Now, efforts are being made to reunite the families, but that is easier said than done.

Every morning at 6:30, the boys and girls of the Little Angels orphanage in Cambodia get to work, sitting at wooden tables set up in front of the entrance to ensure that passing tourists can’t miss them.

For hours at a time, they use hammers and small chisels to punch holes in pieces of leather traced with delicate patterns. No one says a word as they work — one of the boys has earbuds in his ears. The leather creations are traditionally used in Cambodia for shadow puppet shows, but here they serve as souvenirs for tourists. The larger works sell for as much as $700.

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