The problem with orphanages in Nepal

Identifying well-run orphanages to assist in Nepal is very problematic. People with no experience or training can set orphanages up with little supervision from the authorities.

HELP was briefly involved with Mukti Nepal in 2006. It appeared to be a well run orphanage and the children seemed to be well cared for. As a result, we sent a volunteer and some money. However, we withdrew when we saw some negative press reports about the falsification of children’s names.

The situation has obviously deteriorated badly since then. We have just been alerted by someone acting on behalf of Next Generation Nepal (which aims to re-unite so-called ‘orphans’ with their legitimate parents) to the terrible conditions that the children were being kept in in recent years. This is what she says:

“Unfortunately, trafficking for exploitation within children’s homes is a common practice here in Nepal and as part of that, it is also common for documents to be forged. So far it is clear that nearly all of the children’s first names were changed and some of them had their last names changed as well. The goal is not only to get money from the children’s parents in return for the promise of an education, nutritious food, and access to better health care, but also to get money from well-intentioned NGOs and volunteers. Further, the forging of documents allows children to be trafficked for international adoption, without the parent’s knowledge or consent. It is a very lucrative business.

It appears that at some point, the orphanage was moved from the relatively nice location that (we knew) to a place where all the children were kept in just a single room. It is also now clear that Goma’s beatings were so severe they likely were the cause of death for at least one child and some of the other children still bear visible scars from being beaten with an iron rod.

The children are now doing quite well. Of the 20 that were rescued, 14 have been permanently reunited with their families and 3 children are still in the process of reunification, however there are still 3 children for whom we do not have enough information as of yet. “

This is a warning to all of us, with all our good intentions, to take extreme care in supporting Nepalese orphanages. They can put on a good show for the passing visitor. Our own experiences with orphanages have all been negative, which is why HELP no longer involves itself in this sector.

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