There’s always a story. And a picture tells a thousand words.
These three brothers were reunited after many years held in orphanages thanks to the work of Australian charity Forget Me Not, founded in Hervey Bay in 2005. Forget Me Not works in Nepal, India and Uganda to reunite children with their families after they have been rescued from both legal and illegal orphanage operations.
Hervey Bay locals Olivia Hay and Thomas Biden joined Forget Me Not’s inaugural Change Agent Program in 2017 spearheading a global campaign to end child trafficking into orphanages.
The Change Agent Program arms young people with the information and tools required to help stamp out orphanage tourism by letting their peers know that when they support orphanages overseas they are by default creating a demand for orphans, and there just aren’t that many orphans.
The pair travelled to Kathmandu in December 2017 to learn first hand about the implications of volunteer demand causing child trafficking into orphanages. Together with Nepali youth they took to the streets talking with international tourists and local business owners about how orphanage volunteering ultimately separates families under the misguided intention of ‘doing good’.
“As a Change Agent I know that I am making a tangible difference to the lives of literally thousands of children by shining a light on the devastating practice of trafficking children from their families into orphanages. I have learnt that even the smallest contributions we make have the potential to enhance the lives of vulnerable children.” ~ Olivia Hay
Olivia is currently studying her Bachelor of Business with a major in Tourism Leisure and Events and Thomas, his Bachelor of Primary Education at University of Sunshine Coast (Fraser Coast Campus). Both graduated from Fraser Coast Anglican College (Thomas was School Captain in 2016 and Olivia Service Captain in 2017) and are very active in their local community.
“Spreading the message locally about orphanage tourism and then seeing first hand how Forget Me Not works to solve the problem was life changing. I loved learning from young people who had first hand experience with the dangers of illegal orphanages.” ~ Thomas Biden
To date Thomas and Olivia have raised $11,295.20 to support the work of Forget Me Not in reuniting families. The second annual Colour Stampede at Susan River Homestead Adventure Resort on Sunday 20 May raised $6,800 to help get even more kids back home to family, where they belong.