Sunday, October 30, 2011

'Orphan' girls rescued from TN (Hindustan Times)

'Orphan' girls rescued from TN

Hindustan Times

Utpal Parashar & KV Lakshmana,


October 30, 2011

For parents in Humla, a remote district in mid-western Nepal, Dala Bahadur Phadera was something of an angel. Worried about their children’s future during the civil war, they found Phadera’s proposal to send them to Kathmandu for safety and a good education a blessing in difficult times.

Hundreds of parents paid him to take away their boys and girls lest the Maoists enlist them. But Phadera dumped most boys in rundown orphanages in Nepal and sent the girls to Tamil Nadu.

These girls were taken to the Michael Job Centre in Coimbatore, run by PP Job, an evangelist from Kerala.

In a September 7 operation, the Esther Benjamins Trust (EBT), a UK-registered children’s charity, rescued 23 Nepali girls from the centre. Forty-six Indian girls, mostly from North India and Orissa, have also been rescued since then.

These girls were allegedly given Christian names and presented as “Christian orphans” to attract financial sponsors from around the world.

“They were certainly not Christian and for the most part their parents were alive and well,” said Philip Holmes of EBT, who was involved in the rescue.

Following the raid, the TN government has cancelled the orphanage’s licence. However, Job, the head of the centre, is unavailable for comment.

D Rajan, chairman, child welfare committee, Coimbatore and Nilgiris district, said Job had already explained in writing that the “girls were accepted by him into the orphanage without verifying the antecedents”.

Job, who lives in New Delhi, has also reportedly admitted that they were not orphans.

Most of the girls have been reunited with their families, while some remain under the care of EBT and other organisations. “Phadera told our parents that we were being taken to Kathmandu, but he took us to Coimbatore instead. We had no idea where we were going,” said one of the Nepali girls rescued from the centre.

Surprisingly, Nepal has not initiated any action against those involved in sending the girls to Coimbatore. In addition, a section of the Nepalese media has blamed EBT for curtailing the girls’ education.

Parents of some rescued girls have also asked Nepal’s ministry of women, children and social welfare to investigate the rescue operation. The whereabouts of Phadera, who brought the girls to India, are unknown.

For background on Humla, see:

Paper Orphans documentary posted on the web

The Terre des Hommes documentary on adoption trafficking in Humla.

Ethics, Transparency, Support
~ What All Adoptions Deserve.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

The Indian preacher and the fake orphan scandal (Daily Telegraph)

The Indian preacher and the fake orphan scandal

Daily Telegraph

An Indian missionary charity falsely portrayed young Buddhist girls from Nepal as "orphans" of murdered Christians in a global fund-raising operation involving British and American churches.

[Photo -- Dr PP Job, a well-known evangelist, admitted that many of the girls were not orphans]

By Dean Nelson, New Delhi

28 Oct 2011

Parents paid a child-trafficker more than £100 to take their daughters to good schools in Nepal's capital, Kathmandu, but instead they were taken more than 1,200 miles to Tamil Nadu, southern India.

At the Michael Job Centre, a Christian orphanage and school in Coimbatore, they were converted to Christianity, given western names and told that its charismatic founder, Dr PP Job, was now their father.

On websites, the children were given serial numbers and profiles. The charity claimed they had been either abandoned by their parents who did not want the financial burden of raising girls, or orphaned after their "Christian" parents were murdered by Nepal's Maoist insurgents.

The profiles were used to attract financial sponsors from around the world.

Many of the donors were in the United States, Holland and Britain, where Dr Jobs's sister organisation, Love in Action, is run from St Mary's C of E Church in Stoke-sub-Hamdon, Somerset.

An anti-trafficking charity run by Lt Col Philip Holmes, a retired British Army officer, assisted Indian officials in a raid on the Coimbatore centre last month, when 23 children were rescued.

His group, the Esther Benjamins Trust, discovered that none of the children were from Christian families, very few were, in fact, orphans and some of the girls had been kept apart from their families for up to 10 years. Among those rescued were six girls from one extended Buddhist family in Humla district in northern Nepal who were all renamed on their first day at the Michael Job Centre.

One 17 year-old, "Daniele", whose real name is Tara, told The Daily Telegraph yesterday she was seven when she was taken from her village with her five-year-old sister, "Anna Bella", whose real name is Upaal. On the charity's website, "Daniele" is presented as "an orphan girl from the area bordering India and Nepal", while her sister is described as an orphan whose parents were killed by Maoists.

"There was nobody to take care of her. Our Nepal missionary brought her to the Michael Job Centre," her profile reads. "Anna Bella" is listed as child number 146, and "Daniele" 148, part of a batch of six girls including their four cousins who were renamed Tryphosa (143), Tryphena (150), Jael, and Persis (144).

"Daniele" said: "My mother and father couldn't afford our education and food. There was no threat from the Maoists. We are all Buddhists but now we have two religions.

"Our parents thought girl children should get married, and that if we got an education we would get money. They thought we were going to Kathmandu. They did not know it was a Christian school."

Dr Job, the "orphanage" founder, has left India for the United States, where he did not respond to enquiries. But in a letter to the Indian child welfare authority in Coimbatore last month, he admitted many of the Nepalese children were not orphans and blamed Dal Bahadur Phadera, the alleged trafficker who brought the girls to India, for misleading him.

"Most of the children mentioned were brought by Himalayan Orphanage Development Centre, Humla, run by Mr Dal Bahadur Phadera ... atthe time of admission it was brought to attention that the children are uncared [for] and that they are living within India. The children were neglected by the society and [were] in [the] orphanage. Till today we are taking care of children properly," he wrote.

The charity Love in Action raised around £18,000 for the Michael Job Centre between 2007 and 2010, but Tom Reeves, churchwarden at St Mary's, declined to comment on whether he and his colleagues had been duped.

Mr Phadera was unavailable for comment. A 2006 Unicef report said his organisation was acting in "direct violation of the international convention of children's rights".

In an interview with Avenues TV, a Nepalese channel, he denounced Lt Col Holmes's charity and its role in the raid. "At the time we took our children, there was conflict and we didn't have any problems that the school took our children. But this is a rescue done in the name of rescue. It's like they are looking for treatment when there is no need," he said.

Lt Col Holmes said he had no regrets over the raid. The trafficking of girls from Nepal was "a total abuse of child rights", he said.

For background on Humla, see:

Paper Orphans documentary posted on the web

The Terre des Hommes documentary on adoption trafficking in Humla.

Ethics, Transparency, Support
~ What All Adoptions Deserve.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Protecting children from abuser-volunteers (IRIN)

NEPAL: Protecting children from abuser-volunteers (IRIN)

[Photo: Natalie Bailey/IRIN]

A lack of protection policies is putting Nepal's children at risk

KATHMANDU, 26 October 2011 (IRIN) - Business is booming for volunteer placement organizations attracting adventurous do-gooders to public service throughout this poor, picturesque country. But aesthetics and needs aside, an almost complete lack of regulation has made Nepal particularly vulnerable to the pairing of philanthropy and travel, experts say.

“A lot of times we find that in Asian countries, child serving organizations lack child protection policies, and procedures hence do not have systems in place to protect themselves from potential abusers,” Junita Upadhyay, programme deputy director of ECPAT, an international organization campaigning for the protection of children, told IRIN from Bangkok.

“Many organizations don’t require volunteers to have police checks, even when they have child protection policies… There is not enough dialogue in realizing the importance of such a policy, and the government regulations, if any, are weak.”

Indeed, Anish Neupane with VolNepal, a Kathmandu-based organization which matches volunteers with local NGOs, said in accepting their ever-increasing international placement requests - this year it will reach about 200 - his company proceeds on the grounds of “trust and faith” that volunteers have the best of intentions when requesting to work with children.

Similarly, Volunteer Nepal, established by American Michael Hess to place visitors primarily in Nepali orphanages and schools, does not perform background checks. “We should, but we don’t,” Hess said.

Hess added informal systems are in place in which volunteers are monitored with a sensitivity to any “red flags” that might arise.

[Photo: Natalie Bailey/IRIN
A young boy reading in Nepal]

While the vast majority of volunteers have the best of intentions, some do not, and child protection experts say unregulated volunteering is happening at the risk of everyone involved. Until the government implements regulations, the burden of protection falls on the organizations and the volunteers.

“At the very least there should be vetting procedures in place,” Aarti Kapoor, child-safe tourism manager with World Vision in Bangkok, told IRIN. “It can be relatively easier to start up a children’s organization in developing countries where the regulations aren’t yet fully developed.”

Take the case of Jean Jacques Haye, for example, a French paedophile who set up an orphanage in Nepal and sexually abused its inhabitants between 1985 and 2001.

He was extradited in 2010 and later sentenced to 10 years in prison in France. Variations of such abuses are sprinkled throughout other countries like Cambodia and Thailand, but a lax or nonexistent legal framework make such successfully tried cases rare.


Of Nepal’s 602 child care homes housing 15,095 children, four are run by the government and nearly 60 percent are operating without evaluation.

A coalition of international organizations is working with the government towards a policy which incorporates best practices for any organization caring for children, but the trend of volunteers going into the child care homes continues mostly unnoticed.

“We know that child care homes are not running properly,” said Raghu Adhikari, programme manager of the Child Welfare Board. He explained the board is awaiting the government's approval of a rights-based national child protection policy which will enhance Nepal’s Children's Act of 1992. But without even a national constitution, this could take years, experts say.

In the meantime, ECPAT conducts child protection policy training in Nepal, emphasizing that an organization must protect itself just as much as the children it serves.

“When the government is not very good at regulating these institutions, the responsibility lies within the organization,” Upadhyay said. “It is fundamental to running a good institution that is serving children.”

Off the record

Though a walk down Thamel, Kathmandu’s backpacker area, yields relentless questioning from eager guesthouse owners as to whether or not a passerby is a volunteer, all non-tourist activity in Nepal is unofficial.

Volunteers are lumped in with the more than half a million tourists entering the country every year, de-regulating the experience even further.

“When you don’t have a law then so many things can go wrong, but if we have a law then we can regulate - we could have codes of conduct for volunteers,” said Sumina Tuladhar, executive director of Child Workers in Nepal (CWIN), a Kathmandu-based child advocacy organization. “But when you say volunteering is not legal, then you are not entitled to seek references, or check the background of volunteers coming to your organization. Then it becomes so much easier to come and go.”

Asking questions

International organizations like World Vision, Save the Children and Plan International, all partner with local NGOs and require criminal record checks for potential employees and volunteers. They also cycle through fewer people than those whose primary focus is the placement of tourists in volunteer experiences. In the last year, Save the Children Nepal took on five volunteers, against Volunteer Nepal’s 150.

Experts say volunteers seeking placement should ask a few key questions, starting with: “Would this be allowed in my own country?”

The more questions a volunteer asks, the more an organization will start to think about protecting the children involved, Upadhyay said.


For an excellent thread on orphanage volunteering & child trafficking in Nepal, see Lonely Planet:

Ethics, Transparency, Support
~ What All Adoptions Deserve.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Paper Orphans documentary posted on the web

Nepal -- Paper Orphans documentary posted on the web:

Part 1:

Part 2:

It would be useful if the FBI and Interpol took a good look at the Western organizations that worked with these homes.

Some background to the TDH/Image Ark documentary Paper Orphans.

The Terre des hommes/Image Ark documentary Paper Orphans was a major reason so many receiving countries suspended adoptions from Nepal.

Paper Orphans focuses on three NGOs -- Nepal Children's Organization (NCO/Bal Mandir), the Helpless Children Protection Home (HCPH), and the Education Centre for Helpless Children (ECHC).

For background to the documentary, see the following links.

The Nepal premier at Patan Museum (March 2010):

Paper Orphan\Kishan Sharki (Kantipur Daily):

http://pearadoptinfo-nepal. orphankishan-sharki-kantipur. html


Paper Orphans on the Screen (Voice of Children):

The Hague screening (June 2010):

2010 Special Commission of the Hague Releases its Conclusions and Recommendations:

http://pearadoptinfo-nepal. special-commission-of-hague. html


Nepal Children's Organization (NCO/Bal Mandir):

Victims of Balmandir: node/43654


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

(Also discusses NCO/Bal Mandir's new alliance with the Mitrataa Foundation.)


Prachanda Raj Pradhan -- head of the Child NGO Federation Nepal (CNFN):

http://pearadoptinfo-nepal. prachanda-raj-pradhan-head-of- child-ngo.html

The Helpless Children Protection Home (HCPH):

Paper Orphans & The Helpless Children Protection Home: node/43603



Adopted Children always in disputes! (Voice of Children):

Uttar Tamata (interviewed in Paper Orphans) owns the Children's Home (Bal Griha) -- a home at the center of Al Jazeera's recent adoption documentary:

Nepal: Children for sale (Al Jazeera):

Also worth reading (for general background on Nepali adoptions):

Trade of Children (Voice of Children):

http://pearadoptinfo-nepal. children-voice-of-children. html


Orphaned or Stolen? The U.S. State Department investigates adoption from Nepal, 2006-2008

Exclusive State Department internal cables from Freedom of Information Act requests

The Huffington Post:


Swiss National Radio on Nepali adoptions (English translation):

Ethics, Transparency, Support
~ What All Adoptions Deserve.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Swiss National Radio on Nepali adoptions (English translation)

Swiss National Radio on Nepali adoptions (English translation):

Soundbite Music

Kamala Tamang lives in a mountain village far off Katmandu. She is the mother of two sons and one girl. After divorce, she went to the city where she found work in a hotel. She gave her children to an orphanage because she believed that they would get good education and enough food. In many orphanages, this is the case. But when she called her son Mahesh, he gave her bad news:

Soundbite Kamala:
"The owner of the orphanage brought my sister to the airport, my son told me, the owner said, Sushila would come back, but she never came back. Later they told my son that Sushila went to another country."

Kamala asked the owner to give back her children. But he denied. He just promised he would not give away the boys if she wouldn't tell what happened to Sushila.

Joseph Aguettant, until recent head of TdH in Nepal, confirms that story.

Soundbite: "62 percent of children in orphanages had both parents. Many parents are misled and believe the orphanages are schools." Says Aguettant who conducted together with UNICEF a study on the topic.

In Nepal, it's not difficult to create an orphan even though the parents are still alive. The owner of an orphanage has to publish the picture of the child in a newspaper, and if the parents don't come to claim it within 35 days, the child is declared orphan. But many parents can't read or write. Hence, many wouldn't know that their child was given for adoption, says Aguettant:

Soundbite: "In the vast majority of cases, we found that the people didn't know. They were misled, misinformed, and they simply realized later that their child was sent to another country. And they were, with the help of pictures, kept in the belief that their child only went to a foreign country for educational purpose and would come back. But, in reality, they never come back."

The Nepalese state, orphanages and child traffickers earn a lot of money.

Soundbite of noise in the Ministry of Child, etc.

The responsibility for the adoption lies in the Ministry of Women, Children and Social Welfare. Under State Secretary Sherjung Karki has finished this morning six adoptions. He denies that this is a good business, but the numbers tell another story.

Soundbite Sher Jung Karki: "3000 US dollars the parents pay to the government, each adoption agency pays 10,000 dollars to the Ministry."

There are eighty adoption agencies in Nepal, this makes 800,000 US Dollars which the Ministry earns only by the agencies. And also the orphanages get 5000 Dollars per child, and this is a lot of money in a country where half the population lives beyond the poverty line.

Many of the orphanages finance themselves not only through adoption but also through foreign money and donations. Some provide a new and secure home to the children, many earn a lot of money with them. Hence, it is not surprising that orphanages mushroomed in the country in the last years. 2001 there was only one adoption orphanage in Nepal, 2007 there were already 47. 2000 only 8 children were adopted, 2006 nearly 400 were adopted. Most of them from American and Italian parents.

That this is child trafficking becomes clear at a meeting with a lady whom we call Maya. She is a vegetable seller, and she sells children to the orphanages. In order to meet her, we tell her that we are orphanage owners and want to buy children. We record the conversation with a hidden microphone. We want to know how much money she gets from the orphanage owners per child:

Soundbite Maya: "It depends from child to child. For a newborn, I get 300 Swiss francs (I converted it), 60 francs of it I give to the mother. Normally I make children younger than what they are. Younger ones are preferred from the adopting parents. In the last year, I have sold about 16 children to the orphanages. The majority went to foreign countries. I search directly for pregnant women, therefore I also have contact to hospital personnel who tell me about abandoned children. And I got training from the orphanage owners how I can convince the parents to give their children. When the parents talk about the daily struggle, I tell them about a better future for their children. I'll take them to the orphanage, and finally they get overwhelmed by emotions."

Soundbite children singing

More than 60 children live in this orphanage in Katmandu. Maya says that she sold most of her children to this orphanage. Some children sit in the classroom.

Soundbite crying children

In a room above the classroom, the little ones are tied with a cord to their beds. The owner says he gets all the children from the police, and they find them abandoned in the street. He denies that any of the children are trafficked or bought.

Already 2007, Nepal gained internationally a bad reputation because of the adoption cases. After that Nepal released a new law to stop the trafficking, but again new cases of parents who didn't know about the trafficking of their children were made public. Even Sher Jung Karki knows that:

Soundbite: "We have a problem, and the ministry tries to improve the system, but it takes some time. We just don't have the capacity to control each adoption."

Since 2010, all the countries stopped adoption from Nepal. Even the US, where the adoption lobby put high pressure on the Senate.

Gillian Mellsop from UNICEF is relieved about this decision:

Soundbite: "But we want to put it in a much bigger frame. Adoption is only one small part of child care, but first there have to be other options, like in-country adoption or foster families."

Also the Nepalese government wants that now. This spring they officially declared that they want to do more to protect children. They would look into alternative care and children who were found in the street are not given for adoption any more.

For Kamala Tamang and other mothers this decision comes too late. Kamala Tamang says she would have never given her children to an orphanage if she had known what would happen to her daughter. But even now after years of no news she still hopes:

Soundbite: "My heart tells me that Sushila will come back -- one day."

Translation by Karin Wenger.

Radio broadcast (in German):

Beitrag 7 von 7 aus Echo der Zeit vom Dienstag, 30.8.2011, 18.00 Uhr, DRS 1 und DRS 4 News

Kinderhandel in Nepal

Bis vor kurzem konnten Kinder aus Nepal sehr leicht von ausländischen Paaren adoptiert werden. Die meisten Kinder in den Waisenhäusern seien jedoch gar keine Waisen, sagen das Kinderhilfswerk Unicef und Terre des Hommes.

Hören (8:33)

Verantwortlich für diesen Beitrag:

Karin Wenger

Ethics, Transparency, Support
~ What All Adoptions Deserve.