Are They Orphans?

Beware of overseas orphanages seeking donations. If you're not careful, you may become the victim of an orphanage scam—in which a savvy entrepreneur in a poor country hustles up some children so that he or she can ask developed-world humanitarians for money for the children's support. In some of the notorious cases, the orphanage director pockets the money while the children are left to starve or sold for sex. Few people know that they may be underwriting kidnapping or other modes of defrauding local families out of their children. In other cases, the traffickers put the children—who are neither abandoned nor orphaned—up for international adoption, which can bring in astonishing fees.

One version of the orphanage scam has just been uncovered in India by the Esther Benjamins Memorial Foundation. Several years ago, a now-infamous child-trafficker traveled through Nepal's Humla province, asking families to pay him to take their children to boarding schools in Kathmandu.  Instead, according to information I received from Joseph Aguettant of the child welfare NGO Terre des Hommes, many of the boys were sold into international adoption, while many girls were sold into the sex trade in India. (You can see Joseph Aguettant's documentary of the Nepal adoption issues, "Paper Orphans," on You Tube here: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4). 

Some of the girls were a bit luckier, as reported by the Nepali Times and the UK newspaper the Telegraph:

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.

Read more to break your heart.

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