Gold award: Friends International - ChildSafe, Cambodia
This campaign is not only hard hitting, but also holistic. Because it has to be. It deals with the exploitation of children in tourism, be it through the creation of false orphanages, forced begging, unethical employment and, at worst, sex tourism. All are unthinkable but sadly they are a reality. ChildSafe has, however, from their base in Cambodia, taken on the Southeast Asian countries in a whirlwind of activity to put a stop to child exploitation. And no one escapes taking responsibility on this one as far as ChildSafe is concerned. Everyone, from corporate leaders to backpackers, can take a step to protect a child in danger and ChildCare shows us how.
ChildSafe works in three very distinct areas: firstly, creating a social responsibility among travellers by giving them access to the ChildSafe Hotline where trained social workers are active 24/7 across 11 cities around South East Asia. There are also numbers on there for other child protection bureaus around the world listed on their website, an invaluable source of information, so if in doubt about something you witness, call them. Second, they provide vital training to the tourism industry, from hotels to airlines, restaurants to taxi drivers, and then certify them in being ChildSafe aware. They also then become members of ChildSafe, and you can look all of these members up on their website. The focus is still very much on Cambodia and SoutheastAsia when it comes to members at the moment, but the international list is growing, and we hope that this award will see potential members waking up and smelling the coffee.
Last but not least, these guys know how to campaign. Using video, leaflets and superb social media interaction, they have got the message out to millions of travellers and members of the travel industry that we can no longer stand by and allow this exploitation of children in the world of tourism. Campaigns such as "Children are not tourist attractions", "Think before giving to begging children" and "Don't create more orphans" have had a huge impact. A few of the hard hitting details include the facts that out of an estimated 8 million children living in institutions across the world, more than 80 percent are not orphans. And, in contrast, in 2015, an estimated 9 million people were targeted by messages sent by ChildSafe campaigns. In short, these are inspiring change makers, and they deserve to grow and grow.