Friday, September 30, 2011

Long journey home (Nepali Times)

Long journey home (Nepali Times)

Instead of being commended, rescuers of Nepali girls are condemned


FROM ISSUE #573 (30 SEPT 2011 - 06 OCT 2011)

[Photo] REUNITED: After ten years of search, Shangmo Lama finally meets her two nieces at Michael Job Centre in Coimbatore where they were kept as orphans. Lama had travelled with the rescue team to bring back her two daughters and her nieces from the school.

After the rescue of 23 Nepali girls from an orphanage in Coimbatore in southern India two weeks ago and writing my report for Nepali Times (A far-away rescue, #571), I was following up to see how many of them had been reunited with their parents.

The girls, mostly from Humla, had been taken to Michael Job Centre (MJC) in Coimbatore when they were between three to seven by the infamous human trafficker, Dal Bahadur Phadera. Ten years later, the girls were found by the Esther Benjamins Memorial Foundation (EMBF) living in the centre as "orphans" of "Christian martyrs" killed by Maoists during the war. In all these years, the children except for those whose parents worked with the traffickers, had no contact with their families in Nepal.

When all girls were handed over and brought back to Nepal,we had expected this to be received positively back home and that it would spur up similar rescue efforts of other children sold and trafficked in India. But instead of being commended for the rescue, EBMF has been condemned in an orchestrated media campaign. It has been blamed for forcibly bringing back the girls from a 'good English medium school'. A television channel broadcasted footage of angry parents badmouthing the rescuers for endangering the future of their daughters. With their irresponsible and badly researched coverage, sections of the Nepali media ended up helping the trafficker.

They never bothered to check that in Bhairawa last week, when the children arrived, Phadera was there as well with the parents, most of whom are his relatives . A UML member, Phadera was convicted for human trafficking but used his political connections to get himself released after serving just three years. Now, he is using all his influence to slander the rescue and sadly, many reporters have played along.

The Coimbatore school is supposed to be an orphanage, but the girls were no orphans. The girls were said to be Christian, they were not. They were said to be victims of Christian martyrs killed by the Maoists, they were not. At anytime, if the Indian authorities had closed down the centre, the girls would have been homeless.

The police here have also been trying to pass the buck to cover up their lack of action. DSP Puja Singh said this week that it wasn't a big deal if the girls were falsely kept as orphans in India because "half the children in Nepal's orphanages are not orphans either" and that forcible conversion of minors is fine too as the country is secular now. Such comments prove how deep Phadera's political connections are and how everyone from the police to sections of the media are complicit in this crime.

There is not a shred of doubt that the Humla girls were trafficked to India to make money for the Michael Job Centre. The people who have objected to their children being embarrassed in public by the rescue might do well to remember that their girls were being advertised globally as orphans in the centre's website. The images and profiles of the girls were displayed online for sponsors to choose from. The centre has removed its website after being exposed. (See archived webpage of the centre)

Some parents were not happy to get their children back, they would rather that the girls stayed in India without them having to worry about their upbringing. But many are happy to have their children back. (See box).

What has got lost in all this is that the presence of the girls at the centre in India was illegal. It is no longer the question of whether the girls or their parents want them to stay in the orphanage, they had to come back or face an even more uncertain future in India.

It is typical for the parents of girls rescued from circuses and brothels to disown them. Many Nepali parents also sell their daughters off. We could not help but wonder if some of those parents would have reacted as bitterly if the children were not girls but boys.

But most surprising was how the media chose to argue in favor of traffickers by implying that children of poor parents are better off in foreign orphanages. The problem is in fact not so much with foreign traffickers as with Nepalis themselves.

Afterall it is often relatives who sell their daughters, sisters and wives to middlemen. Unless we stop, they won't. The rescuing organisation is ready to take charge of the girls if the parents are not interested. Instead of making ruckus about the future of the girls which the organisation is willing to look after, we would do better to rally against dangerous people like Phadera and their political patrons who sell Nepali girls and get away with it.


Sabita's homecoming

Sabita Kadel, 14, from Nawalparasi has finally came back home after five years of living as an orphan in Michael Job Centre in Coimbatore in India. After the rescue, her aunt Mina Paudel came to receive her in Kathmandu.

"I can't explain my happiness. For five years, I looked all over for her, two years ago I travelled to Coimbatore but I was humiliated at the Centre and they refused to give me back my daughter."

They did not even let Mina talk to Sabita over the phone for all these years. In the Centre's newsletter, Tortured For Christ, July 2009 issue, Sabita aka Fay has been mentioned as the child of a murdered Christian mother whose other relatives were also slaughtered in a killing rampage by Maoists.

Mina says that her family is Hindu and that the child's father died of kidney failure while the mother left when Sabita was young. "When we got to Bhairawa I saw parents refusing to take responsibility of their girls because they were hand-in-glove with the traffickers," Mina told Nepali Times. "I felt so sorry for those girls."

For her part, Sabita was ecstatic as she talked of her journey home: "I am so happy. I want to go places and be with my family and then continue school."

See videos of Michael Job Centre

Dal Bahadur Phadera is also an alleged adoption trafficker.

For more on Phadera, see:

A trafficker remains scot-free (The Kathmandu Post):

And the horrific, first-hand account of Phadera at Lonely Planet (read the full thread):

Ethics, Transparency, Support
~ What All Adoptions Deserve.

Cashing it big on children (Nepali Times)

Cashing it big on children (Nepali Times)

Adoption is just one part of the larger trafficking problem in Nepal


FROM ISSUE #573 (30 SEPT 2011 - 06 OCT 2011)

Hundreds of orphanages in Nepal are being run as businesses, filled with children who would have been left with their families if orphanage owners weren't making money by keeping them in homes.

Child rights organisations estimate that there are about 15,000 children in orphanages although the number is difficult to track because disreputable owners move children around to avoid scrutiny. Many have been lured away from poor families, especially in remote districts such as Humla (see overleaf), with promises of education in Kathmandu.

That practice is familiar from the adoption racket, which saw fake "orphans" matched up with Western parents who paid thousands of dollars to adopt a Nepali child. Farid Ait-Mansour of Next Generation Nepal says: "Everything is linked. Adoption is just one part of the trafficking problem."

Other children end up in prostitution, child labour or begging. "When there is no inter-country adoption the number of children [in orphanages] always decreases. They send the children elsewhere," says Dharma Raj Shrestha, Director General of the government's Central Child Welfare Board (CCWB). "Children who reached European countries may be lucky ones. Unfortunately, some children could have gone to India and Gulf countries. There is no proper record."

With adoption currently frozen by a dozen Western countries due to rampant fraud, new revenue streams have emerged, like luring foreign volunteers to work in fake orphanages over the Internet. "It seems like a big source of income is foreign volunteers," said one diplomat. "If it wasn't for this income they would probably have been left with their families."

According to another international: "You've got foreigners flying in, volunteering for short periods, sometimes with the best of intentions, sometimes with other intentions."

There is no vetting or background checks of volunteers. Shrestha of the CCWB said that he is aware of cases of sexual abuse by "volunteers". Next Generation Nepal has evidence of children sometimes kept in abject conditions to maximise donations from foreigners. Orphanage owners sometimes sell gifts of clothes and toys after the volunteer has left. Sometimes the children do not even receive the education which their parents were promised.

Several NGOs have withdrawn funding from the orphanage sector over fears that children are being unnecessarily institutionalised in money-making schemes. But a Google search reveals many private tour companies offering volunteering holidays in Nepal. The volunteer ends up paying thousands of dollars after arriving.

Several Thamel travel agencies have murky links with children's homes in the capital. The CCWB has a list of 454 orphanages, most of them in the Kathmandu Valley, although they admit there could be many unregistered ones.

"Pokhara and Chitwan are also dangerously populated by child care homes," says Shrestha, whose agency grades homes A-D for their standard of care, and most of them fall in the C and D categories. He says influential orphanage owners have good contact with the donors in Europe, a steady flow of funds, and want a loose easy-going policy from the government. Nepali businessmen often roam through Europe making contacts with potential donors for their fake orphanages.

The government has no effective policy on children's homes. There is no proper method of assessment in cases where a child may actually need to be put in an orphanage. No orphanages in Nepal, including Bal Mandir, receive any government funding so they are forced to look elsewhere to raise cash.

Shrestha says that some of the most abusive orphanages urgently need to be shut down the CCWB rarely acts because they have no-where to put the rescued children. "There are some good orphanages," admits Shrestha. Asked what happens in the bad ones he reels off a list: physical punishment, torture, sexual abuse, begging duty on the street, one meal a day, no treatment when they fall sick, no schooling.

Ethics, Transparency, Support
~ What All Adoptions Deserve.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Disabled kids to get priority in adoption (The Himalayan Times)

Disabled kids to get priority in adoption (The Himalayan Times)



KATHMANDU: The government is to give priority to ‘children with special needs’ –– those who have some kind of disability –– for inter-country adoption, said a committee established to monitor inter-country adoptions.

To pave way for the new provision, the government in January amended the Inter-Country Adoption Regulation.

Inter-country Adoption Management Committee Chairman Mahendra Shrestha said the provision will be implemented as the panel prepares a new list of kids, who are to be made available for inter-country adoption.

“After collecting data on children eligible for the adoption, we will invite applications by next month,” said Shrestha. “Although some countries have banned adoption of Nepali children, citizens of some European countries have shown interest in adopting children with disability,” he added.

A dozen European countries such as Noway, the UK and Italy soon followed suit and barred their citizens from adopting Nepali children.

Shrestha said the government was planning to introduce programmes to encourage domestic adoption as well. “To encourage domestic adoption, we are planning to build regional centres for destitute children by using the revenue received through inter-country adoption,” he informed.

Nepal has adopted a remarkably broad definition of special needs (see below). Adoption reformers fear this is an attempt by corrupt insiders to game the adoption process. Almost any child will qualify as "special needs" under the new rules:

Government of Nepal

Ministry of Women, Children and Social Welfare


Date of Decision : 5 January 2011

In accrodance with the Article 15A. of Terms and Conditions and Process for Granting Approval for Adoption of Nepali child by an Alien (First Ammendment), 2067 (2010), the Ministry has defined and classified the special needs children as mentioned below :

Definition: Children who need more care, concern and love from the parents due to the abnormal medical, physical, emotional, and developmental condition and sometime due to their special circumstances Older age children living under special conditions



Older children over 6 years/sibling group


Low Birth weight


Children with following Conditions:

Acute Ricketts
Blood disorders
Brain Lesion
Chronic Asthma
Chronic Eczema
Cleft Lip-Cleft Palate/Cleft Lip
Ectodermal displacia (no sweat glands)
Epilepsy (does not include fever induced
Fetal Alcohol Syndrome
Fingers-toes missing
Hare lip
Heart conditions of a severe nature
Hepatitis B+
Ichthyosis (Collodian baby)
Indeterminate sex
Limbs Missing
Neurological disorders
Partially Blind
Partially Deaf
Pier Robin Syndrome (no tongue)
Severe disfiguring birth marks
Severe Orthopedic conditions
Severe Seizure disorders
Speech dysfunction-dysphasia
Spina Bifida
Thalasemia Major


Prior traumatic background, disruption, long institutional care, difficult circumstances, psychiatric and mentally challenged parentage.

Note: Older Child means the child above 6 years of age upto 16 years of age.

Ethics, Transparency, Support
~ What All Adoptions Deserve.

Renewal of Foreign Organizations or Agencies (MOWCSW notice)

Government of Nepal

Ministry of Women, Children and Social Welfare

Notice on

Renewal of Foreign Organizations or Agencies

Date: 4 September 2011

Upon scrutiny the applications submitted by the following foreign organizations along with other documents for renewal pursuant to the notice published on 2 January 2011 for renewal of the foreign organizations enlisted for two years with effect from 1 January 2009 under this Ministry with regards to inter-country adoption, this is to inform all the concerned that the following foreign organizations have been renewed for two years with effect from 1 January 2011 subject to observance of the following terms and conditions.

Terms and Conditions:

(a) The foreign organizations or agencies enlisted with the Ministry shall be required to produce the evidence indicating recognition received from the Hague Secretariat.

(b) It is required to comply with the directives issued by the Ministry and the Committee from time to time.

(c) The enlisted foreign organizations or agencies shall be required to deposit the rest amount annually payable for MoU in 2010 in the bank account designated by the Committee within forty-five days from the date of renewal.

(d) The enlisted foreign organizations or agencies shall be required to establish their contact office pursuant to Section 11(4) of the Terms and Conditions and Process for Granting Approval for Adoption of Nepali child by an Alien 2065 (2008)" and shall also be required to make address of the contact office, contact persons and other employees available to the Committee.

(e) The qualifications of the In-charge of the contact office shall be as follows:

(i) He/she shall be a Nepali citizen designated by the enlisted foreign organizations or agencies.

(ii) He/she shall be a person who has done at least Bachelor Degree from the recognized university or he/she has worked in the sector of children for at least ten years.

(iii) He/she has never been convicted of any criminal offence pursuant to the laws in force.

(iv) He/she or any member of his/her family has not been a Director or Member or administrative chief or employee of any children home/ orphanage or Bal Mandir enlisted with the Ministry.

(v) He/she shall produce written guarantee indicating that he/she is not involved in more than one foreign organization or agency.

(f) The foreign organizations or agencies enlisted with the Ministry shall be required to obtain an approval of the Inter-country Adoption Management Development Committee through the concerned contact office while voluntarily providing assistance in the sector of Nepali children.

(g) The foreign organizations or agencies shall be required to place the accurately updated information and data relating to the inter-country adoption on their websites.

(h) If it is found that any foreign organization or agency fails to comply with the aforesaid terms and conditions, the Ministry may delist such a foreign organization or agency at any time on the recommendation of the Committee.

Name of the Foreign Organizations :

1. New Beginnings adoptions and Family Services, USA

2. Holt International, USA

3. AIPA Erga Pueros, Italy

4. ANDENI, Spain

5. AC International,Denmark

6. Namaste Asocion Aragonesa Para La Promocion De La Infancia, Spain

7. Mami Wata, Spain

8. Ninos Sin Fronteras, Spain

9. Wide Horizons for Children, USA

10. International Adoption, USA

11. Gladney Center for Adoption , USA

12. Families Thru International Adoption, USA

13. Internationa Adoption Tracento, Italy

14. Amici De Bambini, Italy

15. Adopsjonsforum, Norway

16. Adoption Ark, USA

17. NAAA, Italy

18. Associazione Ariete Onlus, Italy

19. Children's Home Society & Family Services, USA

20. Danadopt, Denmark

21. DeColores Adoptions International, USA

22. Adoption Alliance, USA

23. Choices Adoption & Counselling, Canada

24. All God's Children International, USA

25. Associazone Amici Trentini, Italy

26. Adoptions Centrum, Sweden

27. Ecai Balbalika, Spain

28. Anpas Associazione Nazionale Pubbliche Assistenze, Italy

29. L'Airone Onlus, Italy

30. Hope Promise, USA

31. Adoption Star, USA

32. Pearl S. Buck International, USA

33. La Vida International, USA

34. Adopt International & Domestic Services, USA

35. Illien Adoptions International Inc, USA

36. The Joy Sowers, Belgium

Terms and Procedures for Adoption of Nepalese Children by Foreign Citizen(Second Amendment), 2067 (2011)

Inter-country Adoption Management Committee (Formation) Order, 2067 (2011)

List of Foreign Agency Enlisted in the Ministry

Definition and Classification of Special Needs Children

Terms and Conditions and process for granting approval for adoption (First Amendment) 2067

Terms and Conditions and process for granting approval for adoption 2065

Ethics, Transparency, Support
~ What All Adoptions Deserve.

Bal Mandir stops taking new children (Republica)

Bal Mandir stops taking new children (Republica)


With indefinite suspension by some European countries and USA of adoption of Nepali children, Nepal Bal Mandir has stopped taking in new children.

The organization stopped taking new admissions a year ago as inter-country adoption was its biggest source of income. The non-governmental organization devoted to giving care to orphans says financial crisis compelled it to take such a step.

“Inter-country adoption is one of the main financial sources of our organization. Suspension by some European nations and USA of adoption of Nepali children has directly hits us,” Ramesh Bhumi, director of the organization, said.

The European countries and USA suspended adoption of Nepali children citing instances of forged documents and a case of a Nepali couple searching for their child who was put up for adoption without their consent.

With stoppage of income from adoption, the organization´s dues have piled up. The organization has to pay more than Rs 15 million to schools where its children study.

“The organization is under pressure due to piling dues,” said Pundya Raj Maharjan, a staffer at the organization.

Dozens of children were adopted from the organization before western countries suspended adoption.

The organization gets 5,000 euros per child from a foreign national who adopt a child. “Now the collection from the foreign adoption is negligible,” Maharjan added.

The organization was able to send only 12 children to adoptive foreign parents in 2010. Before this, the number was almost four times.

After the suspension of adoption by many western countries, internal adoption has, however, increased.

In 2010, 11 children were adopted inside the country. In 2009 only three children were adopted by Nepali couples.

According to Bhumi, students enrolled in various schools across the country are facing difficulty as organization has not able to pay fees on time.

“We have been facing problems re-admitting children, but we manage it somehow. Sometimes the schools do not give exam results to the children,” he said. The organization has been making special request to the schools to give the results and has been pledging to pay the dues soon.

Sponsorship is another significant income source of the organization. People from the abroad as well as Nepalis sponsor some children. They provide certain amount for their study and education.

The organization uses 75 percent of the total sponsored amount, while the remaining 25 percent goes into the personal account of the concerned child, which the child can use after passing SLC examination. Bhumi said that the organization is working to find sponsorship for more children.

Another source of income for the organization comes from leasing out its land. The organization gets Rs 400,000 per month from land lease. Bhrispati Bidhya Sadan, which has taken land of the organization on lease, pays Rs 350,000 per month.

Bal Mandir operates 11 child care centers across the country and around 500 orphaned children are getting shelter there.

Published on 2011-09-16

NCO/Bal Mandir's "financial crisis" is a matter of debate.


Nepal -- Corruption at Nepal Children's Organization (NCO/Bal Mandir)

Ethics, Transparency, Support
~ What All Adoptions Deserve.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Nepal comes to terms with foreign adoptions tragedy (BBC)

Nepal comes to terms with foreign adoptions tragedy (BBC)

28 September 2011

By Thomas Bell --
in Kathmandu

Hundreds of parents in Nepal are struggling to come to terms with the fact that their children have been adopted by Western couples without their consent.

Adoptive parents pay thousands of dollars in fees and "donations" to orphanages and government officials who process their cases, creating what many observers describe as an incentive for widespread abuse.

Fraud in international adoption became so rife that several Western governments suspended adoption from Nepal in 2010.

"Many of the documents turned out to be false," explained one diplomat. "When we tried to investigate we were either blocked by the Nepalese government or we were unable to confirm anything we had been told."

Sarita Bhujel was a struggling single mother when a neighbour persuaded her to put her seven-year-old daughter in a Kathmandu children's home.

During an interview she wept and buried her face in a rag while she described what happened.

Illiterate parents

"The neighbour said that I should keep my child in the organisation since her future would be secured," Ms Bhujel recalled.

"She said that she would be educated and would do well. I loved my daughter. I have two sons but only one daughter. I loved her more than anything."

Researchers say that there are about 20, mostly female, agents operating in Kathmandu, obtaining children for orphanages by offering similar promises to those Ms Bhujel received.

However, the majority of so-called "orphans" come from remote Himalayan districts such as Humla in north-west Nepal, where agents persuade illiterate parents that their children will receive a proper education in the capital.

Only later do they discover that their son or daughter has been adopted.

In Ms Bhujel's case she was promised that she could meet her daughter in the orphanage, although she says she was discouraged from visiting often.

She would take sweets and biscuits when she went. For about a year everything seemed to be fine.

"One day my daughter said, 'Mummy, there is someone from a foreign country who is going to take me away.' I told her that nobody was going to take her and that I would not allow such a thing. I told her not to worry," Ms Bhujel said.

She claims that she asked the orphanage staff and received assurances that her daughter would not be adopted. "I believed them. I am uneducated and I had faith in them," she said.

Desperate to adopt

After that Ms Bhujel was prevented from seeing her daughter on various pretexts - that she was studying for exams or had gone for a picnic.

She said she broke down in tears at the orphanage and was insulted when she persisted with her inquiries.

Ms Bhujel works as a labourer on building sites and had only 50 rupees (40p) to her name at the time.

She used 30 rupees to bribe a member of staff at the orphanage. In that way, she says, she discovered that her daughter had been adopted by an Italian couple and gone to Italy.

The orphanage in question denies Ms Bhujel's account. Its director said that she would not have sent the girl to Italy if she had known at the time that she had a natural mother.

"I always remember the meeting with her when I explained about her daughter being adopted by [an] Italian family. She was so happy and told me that we have saved her daughter's life," the director said.

Ms Bhujel recalls being distraught and relying on the support of neighbours for months after learning what had happened.

"For six months, I could not do much… no sleep, no food," she said.

"They did not tell me anything for six months. For three years they did not give me much information. I would be restless and sleepless. I cried for three years."

In 2007 media revelations about corruption in international adoption led the Nepali government to suspend the process.

But following pressure from European countries, where childless parents are desperate to adopt, the process began again in 2008 without substantial reforms. Ms Bhujel's daughter was adopted that year.

Foreign couples are required to pay $5,000 (£3,216) to the orphanage and $3,000 (£1,930) to government officials for handling the paperwork. In many cases adoptive parents are believed to make other payments as well.

Old practices

Diplomats and child rights activists describe how the scam usually works.

Orphanages place advertisements in newspapers showing children's photographs but giving little other information.

The text states that the child has been found abandoned. If no one comes forward to identify them, the police issue documents declaring the child is an "orphan".

Among the papers and photographs from her daughter's case Ms Bhujel has a copy of the advertisement placed by the orphanage, picturing her daughter and claiming that she had been found abandoned.

She also has a copy of the police letter certifying her as an orphan, although the police have subsequently said that the serial number on the document indicates an irregularity.

Ms Bhujel, who is illiterate, says the orphanage eventually asked her to put her thumb-print on a document in exchange for photographs of her daughter, which her new family were sending from Italy.

The undated document - which she can not read - states that she agreed to put her daughter up for adoption.

Nepal is a signatory to the Hague Adoption Convention which sets standards for international adoption but has not implemented it.

The officials in charge of reform are widely seen as linked to the old practices and there have been allegations in the local media of corruption in the committee charged with bringing the system in line.

Nevertheless, children's rights activists and diplomats - interviewed on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the subject - say that while the Nepali government drags its feet on reform there is pressure on some Western governments to reopen the process.


For more on Sarita Bhujel and Prayas Nepal, see PEAR Nepal:

Ethics, Transparency, Support
~ What All Adoptions Deserve.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

A far-away rescue (Nepali Times)

A far-away rescue (Nepali Times)

Young girls from the remote mountains of northwestern Nepal who were trafficked to the southern tip of India are rescued this week


FROM ISSUE #571 (16 SEPT 2011 - 22 SEPT 2011)

In the suburbs of Coimbatore at Sulur, the first thing that one notices in the impressively walled Michael Job Centre is the sheer enormity of the complex.

There is a school, a post graduate level college and an orphanage in the sprawling premises housing some 500 girls that the organization claims are abandoned or orphaned children of Christian martyrs. The last thing one would expect to find there are young girls from the remote Nepali district of Humla. But there they are, all 23 of them with Christian names living for the past nine years here as orphans despite having parents back home.

They were rescued from the centre last week at the initiative of the Esther Benjamins Memorial Foundation (EBMF), Nepal, ChildLine India and the Child Welfare Committee (CWC) at the state of Tamil Nadu.

EBMF got into action when the families of four girls from Humla requested them to find their missing daughters. The parents of the girls had sent them along with their brothers in the care of Dal Bahadur Phadera, a local politician.

Many families in Humla had paid Phadera Rs 5-20,000 to get their children out of war-ravaged villages at the time and educate them in boarding schools in Kathmandu. The boys are still in the institution run by Phadera, but the girls, between 3 to 7 years old, were taken away nine years ago. Their families never heard from them.

When rescued, many girls didn't remember their parents' names or where they came from. They have been given Christian names and identities.

In the website of Michael Job Centre, the girls are falsely depicted as children of Christian martyrs in Nepal murdered by Maoists. The Centre runs on the donations given by Christians from all over the world for 'orphans'.

In one of the pages of the website was where we first saw pictures of Anna Bella, Daniela, Persius and Jael (Christian names given by the centre, original names withheld). Their mother and brother had made a three days journey from Humla to join us in Kathmandu for the trip to Coimbatore in India's southern tip. Persius and Jael's mother Shangmo Lama had never been in a car before. After a long and tiring journey to Coimbatore, a frail Shangmo smiled for the first time when we stepped inside the gate of the Centre to get back her daughters. She had waited nine years for this moment.

At first, the principal of the centre flatly denied having any Nepali children at the centre. But she was forced to accept having illegally kept the girls as orphans when the photos of the children and the mother were shown (pictured, right).

Outside, a very Nepali looking girl's face stopped me. After few exchanges in English, I asked if she was Nepali. The girl's face brightened up. Lynsy then gave me her Nepali name, informed there were now 23 of them left in the centre and that they have not forgotten to speak Nepali. Soon the news spread of the team from Nepal and Nepali girls surrounded the principal's office.

There was noisy chatter and a sense of jubilation in the office. Some of the girls were seven years old and all had parents and families back home and hadn't heard from them in all these years.

It was an emotional scene when Shangmo met her girls, who at first failed to recognise their mother. But her brother's daughter Daniela instantly recognised her aunt.

PP Job, the centre's founder has denied having known that the children had families in Nepal. The self-styled Christian preacher has alleged that the children were brought to him by Phadera and that the center has only provided good education and living to these underprivileged children.

"It is illegal under the Indian law to bring children, orphaned or not from Nepal to India, and house them in an institution here. It is a clear case of trafficking," Nandita Rao, Childline's lawyer told Nepali Times.

The Centre is now under investigation by the social welfare department in Tamil Nadu and has been given 15 days to furnish details and prove that it was not involved in child trafficking. On Monday, 500 activists from different Hindu organisations staged a protest outside the orphanage accusing it of proselytizing.

"Poor countries are turning into a missionary haven for religious zealots and this has led to a new form of trafficking," says Philip Holmes of Esther Benjamins Memorial Foundation. The girls are now on their way home by train via Gorakhpur.

The girls had kept the memory of their home country alive for nearly a decade, and were full of pride as they sang the Nepali national anthem for the rescue party from Nepal. They had memorized the words from the mobile ring tone of a Nepali visiting the center.

Said an ecstatic Sabita Bogati: "I want to go home. I would not mind walking all the way to Nepal."

POST SCRIPT: EBMF is now preparing to file charges against Phadera for trafficking. In India, child rights organisations have taken up the issue and are now planning to bring PP Job and his accomplices to book. Efforts to repatriate children trafficked from Tibet and Bhutan who were also kept in the centre are now underway. But even if the children are reunited, their lost years, separation from parents and loss of identity will never be returned.

Dal Bahadur Phadera is also an alleged adoption trafficker.

For more on Phadera, see:

A trafficker remains scot-free (The Kathmandu Post):

And the horrific, first-hand account of Phadera at Lonely Planet (read the full thread):

Ethics, Transparency, Support
~ What All Adoptions Deserve.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Nepal: Children for sale (Al Jazeera)

Nepal: Children for sale (Al Jazeera)

With weak law enforcement, can foreigners adopting children from Nepal be sure that they are really orphans?


Orphaned, abandoned or trafficked? That is the question facing foreigners who wish to adopt Nepali children.

International adoption services have provided a lucrative business to poverty-stricken Nepal. But in 2007, Nepal stopped adoptions for two years as it investigated claims of child trafficking.

After adoptions resumed, law enforcement remained weak.

By the end of 2010, many countries including the US, stopped granting visas to children from Nepal. This was in response to unscrupulous agents falsifying children's status as orphans so they could be adopted overseas.

Today, loopholes remain in Nepal's adoption processes and the government has been slow to formulate new policies, creating more problems for children in orphanages.

101 East investigates the scam behind an industry borne from the desire to love a child.

Al Jazeera -- 101 East

Ethics, Transparency, Support
~ What All Adoptions Deserve.