The Indian preacher and the fake orphan scandal
The Telegraph, 1 July 201
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.
London, UK -- 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.
<< Dr PP Job, a well-known evangelist, admitted that many of the girls were not orphans
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.