Orphanhood = Not Taking Care Of Our Own

In this Tale From A Strange Land, the strange land is Orphanhood and the persons who offer orphans a sheltering wing.

Christianity asks that we aid the widows and orphans:

"Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world." James 1:27 New International Version, 1984

So in the past those appearing to dispense this aid were given carte blanche and the blessings of society to proceed unquestioned. However our growing awareness of the business of human trafficking and the other forms of exploitation of the desperate and vulnerable, force us to suspend all assumptions of genuine charity associated with the "rescue" and transport of "orphans" until we can satisfy ourselves that their vulnerability is not being used for the benefit of their "rescuers".

The first story is about a group of orphans from the Home of Joy Orphanage in Bangladesh who their benefactors had hoped to transport to Trinidad and Tobago. Awaiting them in that country would be Sandra B. Ishmael's two brothers - businessmen, Steven and David Bhagwandass. They would oversee on the job training of these orphans so that they could return to their country with their prospects much improved. Apparently the UK and USA embassies in Bangladesh were not convinced that everything was as it was presented and had doubts about whether the "orphans" would ever return to Bangladesh. Both embassies denied them the transit visas needed for their travel to Trinidad and Tobago. The story raises many questions and it is not at all surprising that the embassies were sceptical. You have a read.

For orphans, route to job skills blocked.
By Paul E. Kandarian
Boston.com | October 17, 2010

Bengali orphans Joel, Rockey, China, Shilpi, Nipa, and Sohel were denied visas to travel to Trinidad to learn job skills. Bengali orphans Joel, Rockey, China, Shilpi, Nipa, and Sohel were denied visas to travel to Trinidad to learn job skills.

Six Bengali orphans — Nipa, Shilpi, Rockey, China, Sohel and Joel — have the means necessary to travel to Trinidad to learn skills that could allow them to support themselves upon their return to Bangladesh, thanks to the efforts of a new Braintree-based group, Friends of the World Charitable Trust. But standing in their way are transit visas, which thus far the United States and United Kingdom embassies have denied.

The group, begun by Sandra B. Ishmael, owner of Allure Spa in Quincy, and Robert P. McCarthy, president of Kanon Bloch Carré in Braintree, sprang out of visits they and other members of the First Presbyterian Church in Quincy made on relief missions to Bangladesh. Since 2005, the church has sent 14 members to share in the ministry that the church began to help the Home of Joy Orphanage.

Many of the orphans are candidates for university, Ishmael said, but for those who are not, very few ways exist to make a living. She and McCarthy decided to create the Friends group to help them, raising more than $20,000 for the cause, but have found their efforts hamstrung by the US and British embassies, which have cited a lack of proof that the orphans would return to Bangladesh as reason for denying the visas, Ishmael said.

On Sept. 9, security escorted the orphans out of the British embassy after they were denied visas, Ishmael said. Later, the US embassy also denied them, she said. Traveling from Bangladesh to Trinidad requires passage through either London or New York City, and Bengali citizens are required to obtain transit visas.

Ishmael is a native of Trinidad and her family there can provide the requisite training for orphans to earn a livelihood, she said. Steven Bhagwandass, Ishmael’s brother, owns four spas and a beautician training school. Another brother, David Bhagwandass, trains young men in machinist work, welding, and turning shipping containers into homes.

Using these resources will make the cost of training significantly less than it would be in the United States,’’ Ishmael said.

McCarthy said, “Trinidad was chosen because of its great cultural and commercial similarities with Bangladesh, so the culture shock will be less for the orphans.’’

The goal is to train the orphans in either cosmetology or modular home construction using shipping containers, bringing the skills they learn back to Bangladesh to open businesses and teach others, creating a self-sustaining source of employment, Ishmael said. The vocational training program in Trinidad has already been developed, and the orphans, four boys and two girls, can be housed for the two-month training period in a newly constructed orphanage, Haven of Hope, she said.

The church group had been to Bangladesh in February, and what Ishmael saw — incredible poverty and very little hope for the young — made her realize “we needed to start something for them. Not everyone can go to university, so we wanted to do some sort of vocational training.’’

Ishmael said that for the girls, prostitution is one of their only options for employment. She saw an island where prostitution is rampant, and knew that two of the girls from the orphanage had ended up working there.

“It broke my heart that this was their only resource, and I thought ‘We have to do something,’ ’’ she said.

It costs $200 per orphan to apply for visas. They’ve done it twice and have spent, in vain, $2,400 so far, she said.

It’s just for a visa, it’s just permission to be in the airport basically, because that’s the process involved,’’ Ishmael said.

Just because they’re orphans, does this mean they’ll never be able to leave their country?’’ she asked. “They can’t go and come back and make their world a better place?’’

Ishmael said she can’t go to Bangladesh as often as she’d like.

I can’t go for three months at a time, but if we had a base there, we could get so much done,’’ she said. “I could go back and forth when I could, my staff could go and train orphans so they could train others.’’

Stan Johnson, pastor of the First Presbyterian Church, said the trips to Bangladesh have “resulted in increased dedication, since several members have been reading Richard Stearn’s book, ‘The Hole in Our Gospel,’ which encourages us to put our faith and our actions together.’’

For more information on Friends of the World Charitable Trust, visit www.fotwct.org, call Ashley Lynch-Mahoney at 617-328-5300, or e-mail info@fotwct.org

Paul E. Kandarian can be reached at kandarian@globe.com.
© Copyright 2010 Globe Newspaper Company.
This story comes hard on the heels of another "orphan" transport for rescue, this time Trinidadian, Kade Romain transported from Trinidad to Scotland in June 2010, by Robina Addison, a Scottish dance teacher and philanthropist, so that Kade could benefit from ear reconstruction surgery.

Fifteen-year old Kade, had been born in Trinidad and Tobago without ears and missing part of her ear canal, a condition known as bilateral microtia. This had rendered her partially deaf and according to her benefactor "facing a future begging for a living." Ms Addison explained that because Kade was born without ears, she couldn't go to mainstream school and was attending a day care unit for children who are mentally handicapped, a day care unit which she likened to a sanitorium in Scotland 40 or 50 years ago. The cost of the operations and treatment is believed to be around £50,000. Fortunately for Kade, who was not entitled to free health care in Scotland, the Spire Murrayfield hospital offered its facilities and the surgical team worked for free. Her foster parents are themselves paying £10,000 for a hearing aid implant that will allow her to hear.

Robina had met Kade 11 years before and the child had impressed her but she had been worried about her situation,

"She is very intelligent but there is no special needs system in Trinidad. I came home and I was quite upset to think that's where she was." After making several return trips. they eventually got permission to take Kade to Scotland. Although the surgery appears to have been successful, there is a continuing struggle with Immigration since Kade entered on a visitor's visa instead of the required medical visa. At one point Kade was even facing the possibility of deportation.

The Addisons have stated that "they do not intend to formally adopt Kade, but hope to help her with her health and education enough to allow her to make a success of her life back home on Trinidad...."

"We want her to get a job and help people in a similar situation. If she does not get this opportunity, her future will be working on the streets, stealing. It's the difference between the chance of a lifetime and nothing, and she has got so much to offer."

Quite apart from the obvious good that the Addisons have done for Kade, there are those who question their claim of being misinformed about the UK's Immigration rules. There are some who believe that the couple were well aware that they had brought Kade into the UK under questionable circumstance and in fact, have no intention of returning Kade to Trinidad. Here are some of the readers' responses to the story.

Surgery girl faces deportation threat
News.Scotsman.com | Published Date: 27 June 2010
By Kate Foster
Fifi la Bonbon,
26/06/2010 23:06:47
Sounds fair enough. These people are willing to pay all the costs themselves and the girl isn't going to be getting to stay here permanently, so there oughtn't to have been a problem if they'd made the proper arrangements.

Very neglectful not to check properly whether the girl needs a visa. She does if the stay is for more than six months. There are particular rules for visitors from Trinidad wanting to receive private medical treatment - very clear. It took me less than five minutes to find and check the rules on the internet - it's all on the UK Border Agency website. If this "high profile couple" had bothered to check with a lawyer in Trinidad or over here they would have known what to do. We only have the woman's word that she was misled.

Anyway I hope it all turns out well but there's no excuse for failing to get proper advice in such circumstances and them blaming the government.

27/06/2010 00:29:03
For goodness sake Fifi la Bonbon - don't be so pompous. They obviously asked a jobsworth who gave them the wrong advice. And you can't blame them for believing an official.

If we listened to everything we heard, or believed everything we see in black and white, no matter how careful we are, we can still end up with problems.

I hope that common sense prevails.

Colin RB,
Bearsden 27/06/2010 01:35:23
The trouble is lawyers and professional protesters will use this as a precedence for other cases and before we know we have a hige national debt which affects adversely all the other children ( whether here legitimately or not). individual cases are often tragic but we cannot afford to be accomodating to all

Charles Linskaill,
27/06/2010 02:27:33
The word Empathy has obviously no meaning for our immigration officials, we are talking about a 15 year old who has so much to give in our lives,
Kade Romain, has been through much torments in her life, why give her more!?,
All she asks is to be Welcomed and Loved, it would be less than Human to not do so.

Charles Linskaill,
Edinburgh 27/06/2010 02:30:46
The word Empathy has obviously no meaning for our immigration officials, we are talking about a 15 year old who has so much to give in our lives,
Kade Romain, has been through much torments in her life, why give her more!?,
All she asks is to be Welcomed and Loved, it is less than Human to not do so.

Glasgow 27/06/2010 02:43:59
I think Kade should be allowed to get her treatment. But don't be down too hard on the officials, they are in a difficult position here. Grant the permission and they are accused of bending the rules to favour the powerful and influential. Insist on following the same proceedure they would normally and they're heartless bureaucrats.

It seems to me that this could be resolved if a new visa application is made, but comfort is given in the way of an assurance from an immigration minister that the application is very likely to be viewed sympathetically and with priority. This is easily done. I don't even see why Kade has to leave the Country whilst this is dealt with. She is a child and therefore entitled to special protection, which is afforded to her by being with those having guardianship over her.

Zurich 27/06/2010 08:22:42
Fifi, I know Robina and Derek personally and I know that they did ask about the necessary visas and were given the wrong information! Kade should be allowed to stay for the duration of her treatment.

Fifi la Bonbon,
27/06/2010 09:50:27
#7 - I don't disagree about the girl being allowed to stay to get her treatment. My point is that anyone who fails to get legal advice on such matters or at least to make their own proper enquiries is being negligent. There's more to this than meets the eye, anyway. The report says the girl is fostered. That would involve contact and negotiation with authorities in Trinidad and Tobago, and certainly with social workers here. I am surprised that the question of her legal ability to remain here was not picked up somewhere in the process. What is the social work department's view about the case?

27/06/2010 13:44:26
Comment Removed By Administrator

Scotland Needs YOU,
Glasgow 27/06/2010 14:20:13
The problem lies in obtaining a visa, why the need for emotional manipulation tactics? ....

“Speaking at their Montrose home, Robina and Derek Addison said their foster daughter faces a life on the streets in Trinidad without the healthcare and educational opportunities they can offer.

Robina, 62, said: "She was sitting there, wearing a red bow in her curly hair, and she was so feisty, there was a rapport there. It's like she was waiting for us. She was in a home with people of all ages who were mentally handicapped and I felt it was not the place for her. She didn't trust anyone and couldn't believe children didn't get beaten."

"We want her to get a job and help people in a similar situation. If she does not get this opportunity, her future will be working on the streets, stealing. It's the difference between the chance of a lifetime and nothing, and she has got so much to offer."

So what’s the next step of emotional manipulation after (hopefully) she receives the treatment?

After two years in Scotland and it’s time for Kade to go home, the usual all hell will break loose ....

“This is her new home / she is Scottish / her friends are here / she speaks with a Scottish accent / she is brilliant at school / she attends the local church / Kade is one of our family / everybody loves her / she can’t remember Trinidad” etc, etc.

Off to the newspapers to set up a photo-shoot, set up a facebook site, get a petition going, get some MP, MSP on the case, church backing, drafted letters to the Home Secretary, drafted letters to the Immigration minister / sign up an £800 a day human rights, immigration lawyer to take up the case / play for time until Kade reaches the 18 year old mark / screams of “RACIST” “RACIST” “RACIST” at those who disagree with their campaign - and how about claiming asylum?

The Daleks,
Longmen 27/06/2010 15:44:51
#4&5 Charles Limescale

Are you for real Charlie-Boy?

Every time someone breaks the immigration laws you come on pleading for love, empathy, sympathy, hugs and kisses.

Your heart must be bleeding so much that you need permanent transfusions!

If it was up to you and the likes of you, there would be standing room only in the UK.

27/06/2010 17:53:56
Another cynical attempt at emotional blackmail!

Cyberspace 27/06/2010 22:27:01
It was bad enough with the Fascist New Labour government, but now with the outright Nazi Tory one the racism inflicted on Scotland by the Gestapo Border Agency will become much worse.

28/06/2010 03:09:53
The fact that they took the advice blindly does concern me a little, especially when google can retreive the information in a few seconds, same as the visa requirements for just about everywhere.
Ignorance, especially of easy to come by information is not a good excuse.
the best solution would be to grant a conditional visa or something to the effect of they will not be deported on condition she must leave by a given date.

The Daleks,
Longmen 28/06/2010 04:38:50
Get a grip!

The Daleks,
Longmen 28/06/2010 04:40:35
#15 Sorry, your comment was perfectly sensible, my remark was directed at #14.
Report Unsuitable

Scotland Needs YOU,
Glasgow 28/06/2010 18:13:47
BK at 14 played his / her racist card.

“Fascist” / “Nazi” / “racism” / “Gestapo” ....

Robina and Derek Addison, BK at 14, is the type of supporter you will attract to your campaign.

Surgery girl faces deportation threat
News.Scotsman.com | Published Date: 27 June 2010
By Kate Foster

Surgeons creating new ears for girl from Trinidad.
By Eleanor Bradford BBC Scotland Health Correspondent
BBC News | 11 October 2010

Doctors construct new ear for girl.
The Press Association(UKPA)| – 1 day ago

Apart from having to face the harsh truth that a total stranger cared more about one of our citizens that we did, I am happy that Kade is receiving the care that she deserves and I expect that her future will indeed be brighter.

Being a doubting Thomas, I usually approach these stories with a healthy dose of cynicism or you could say, a pound of salt, before I can be convinced that everything is above board. I no longer trust implicitly anyone who appears to go above and beyond the call of duty where the transport of vulnerable human beings from one part of the globe to another is involved. If like me, you have more than a passing interest in human trafficking, you become aware of the countless stories of exploitation and your innocence is lost.

As regards the transport of children, the use of "orphans" might have guaranteed you free passage in the past but not with what we know today. Many orphans are not orphans and even when they are, the authorities are to be congratulated when they are vigilant about the true motives of their rescuers.

Trinidad and Tobago will be considering new legislation in the future to facilitate international adoption of its "orphans". Unless there are family connections involved, I am in complete disagreement with this development. We are BOUND to take care of our own. When you neglect to do this, you open them up to exploitation by others who you cannot track after they have left the country with our children.

The last story is just one of a slew of reports that have come out of Ethiopia in recent times regarding the international adoption industry which is thriving in the country. Multiply this story by all the countries in the world which for whatever reasons have not been taking care of their own and you have the nightmarish situation of a lucrative global web of child procurement and transport.

Yet, despite this knowledge and the increasing evidence to support claims which may have been dismissed in the past, we have the curious situation of the US Department of State's 2010 Trafficking in Persons Report refusing to include the sometimes illegal practices involved in international adoption in their definition of human trafficking. One wonders if this is part of a refusal to admit that their own citizens are some of the major fuellers of this international trade in children.

The common thread running through all these stories is the threat that these orphans will end "up on the streets" as prostitutes or thieves if they are not rescued. Charity begins at home. Who is taking care of our people on the streets? Charity begins at home. Who is taking care of the needs of disabled persons like Kade Romain? Charity begins at home. Who is taking care of our "orphans"? While I fully support pet adoption as advertised here, are there similar "Adopt OUR Orphans" campaigns in Trinidad and Tobago? The first article mentions that the four boys and two girls from Bangladesh can be housed for the two-month training period in a newly constructed orphanage, Haven of Hope. Is Haven of Hope registered as a charity and also open to orphans from T&T. Charity begins at home. Before you involve yourself in the transport for rescue of persons from the other side of the world, consider that you may very well be blindly brushing past the outstretched hands of your immediate neighbours.


For those who have an interest in the multibillion international trade in children, I found The Schuster Institute for Investigative Journalism's site useful as a starting point.
"Patria est communis omnium parens" - Our native land is the common parent of us all. Keep it beautiful, make it even more so.

Blessed is all of creation
Blessed be my beautiful people
Blessed be the day of our awakening
Blessed is my country
Blessed are her patient hills.

Mweh ka allay!