Next Generation Nepal | “earthquake orphans” | Reconnecting Trafficked Children with Their Families

Reconnecting Trafficked Children with Their Families. Next Generation Nepal rebuilds family connections torn apart by child trafficking and helps rural communities become stronger, healthier places to raise their children.

SEE: Next Generation Nepal – How We Work

NGN Turns 10: A Decade of Rescuing and Reunifying Trafficked Children with their Families

With your help, we have brought over 500 children home, raised awareness and started an initiative to stop trafficking before it begins.


Dear Friend of Next Generation Nepal,

It has been 12 years since I first arrived in Nepal for what I thought would be a small blip in my story. Little did I know that I was about to embark down a path that would change the entire trajectory of my life in ways I couldn’t imagine.

This journey began in 2004 when I volunteered at Little Princes Children’s Home on the outskirts of Kathmandu and met a group of boys and girls who would change my life forever. I’d been led to believe that these kids were orphans, which invoked heartfelt empathy and a strong desire for me to bring them joy in their young lives. I soon learned the truth—they had mothers and fathers, siblings and communities where they once had a full and happy life which they had been taken from. I was shocked to know these kids had been trafficked. It was because of this realization that I made a promise to do whatever possible to bring them and as many others back home. Out of that promise the seed that would grow into Next Generation Nepal was planted.

It took two years of commitment and hard work, but, in 2006, NGN was finally able to open the doors of its official office in Nepal and rescue the Little Princes. Soon after, I set off to the remote district of Humla in search of their families. This was the first rescue and reunification that NGN did.

Over the last 10 years, NGN has continued to grow.  Today we work in 31 districts and have helped reconnect over 500 children with their families! In addition to our reintegration work, NGN is now considered an expert on ethical volunteering in Nepal, and our Community Anti-Trafficking (CAT) project works to prevent children from being trafficked in the first place.

NGN has persevered through a civil war, earthquakes and constant political unrest, but we have not let anything stand in our way in accomplishing our mission. Our teams continue to rescue, care and search in the remotest parts of Nepal for the families of these children so that we can bring them home.

NGN is celebrating the joy of 10 years of rescuing and reunifying trafficked children as well as broadening NGN’s reach into bringing awareness to families and communities of the causes of trafficking and stopping it before it begins.

There are still thousands of children who have been displaced from their families and living in abusive conditions for the financial gain of their captors. Please help us to begin this next 10 years by supporting NGN’s work so we can not only bring hundreds more children home, but to stop child trafficking at its core.

With Gratitude,

Conor Grennan (author)
President, Next Generation Nepal

MORE:  After the Great Nepal Earthquake
April 25, 2016

I drove to the NGN transit home where I was overjoyed to find 17 children playing games in a make-shift tent of tarpaulins, and being cared for by our staff and —believe it or not— the Little Princes!  Yes, the now young adults whom NGN Founder Conor Grennan had made famous as children in his book, “Little Princes,” had kept their promise that in the event of an earthquake they would protect the younger children. In addition to this we had a four-week supply of food, water and medicines, so even if the roads and airport were shut off, we could all still survive.

Within the heavily cracked walls of a room at the Central Child Welfare Board, I joined the Government and other NGOs to plan what our response would be for affected children. We knew that the situation in Kathmandu was not as bad as the rural areas. But we also knew that the traffickers were already prowling the villages looking for children to remove them from their frightened parents and place them in profit-making children’s homes.  To make matters worse, several children’s homes were already announcing hundreds of new places for children to come to Kathmandu. It was like the previous decade’s civil war all over again—families would be torn apart by hollow promises of safety and education, only to be used as fundraising tools by organizations wishing to profit from the millions of dollars of disaster aid money flowing into the country.  All these unscrupulous organizations needed to succeed in their plans were children to be falsely presented as “earthquake orphans.” We had to act fast.

…A child-friendly space is a basically a large tent that acts as a safe space for children after a disaster. In the NGN child-friendly spaces, the children were offered structured play and learning activities, psycho-social counseling and locally-prepared nutritious meals. This gave them the opportunity to regain a sense of normality in their lives, and allowed their parents some much-needed respite.  But our child-friendly spaces were more than this—they also built trust with the local community, which, in time, allowed NGN to start raising awareness within the community of the dangers of child trafficking and the importance of family preservation.

By July we had established 11 child-friendly spaces in hard-hit villages where we had assessed there was a high risk of trafficking. We had also supported the Nepal Police to establish two transport check posts where we could intercept buses to search for children who might be being trafficked to Kathmandu.  When we found unaccompanied children on the buses, we rescued them, and the local government returned them to their families.

By now we were also able to roll out our awareness-raising campaigns. These included a traveling acting troupe that performed a street drama about child traffickers pretending to be representatives of NGOs to lure vulnerable children to the city; several passionate street rallies led by school children demanding an “end to child trafficking”; leaflets and posters; competitions and speeches; and a radio jingle to reach the most remote families whom we could not access by road or foot.

***

An International Adoption Clouded in Deception

February 20, 2012: Imagine a complete stranger telling you that your adopted daughter, who you always believed was an orphan, was actually not. “Surreal and heart wrenching” is how Ana would describe it.
Names have been changed in the story to protect the privacy of those involved.

In early 2004, a Spanish woman named Ana wanted to adopt a Nepalese child. Nepal was still in an armed conflict and she was told that many children were losing their parents. She arranged a meeting with a representative at the Consulate of Nepal in Spain to find out more information. Ana was given the contact information for an orphanage in Nepal and started the complex process necessary to adopt a child.

After about one year, the adoption became official and Ana, overcome with joy, traveled to the orphanage in Kathmandu to meet her new daughter and bring her home to Spain. The orphanage had arranged for Ana to adopt Sunitha, a six-year-old girl with a personality that enchanted Ana from the beginning. As months passed, Sunitha quickly learned Spanish and slowly began assimilating to Spanish culture. “Sunitha was becoming a Spaniard, but I also wanted her to be aware of her Nepalese heritage. I did not want Sunitha to forget her origins,” said Ana…

Keep Reading

 

Editor’s Note
Many of the children in Nepal’s “orphanages” are there because traffickers (who are sometimes relatives) deceive parents in remote villages into allowing them to take their kids to “elite educational facilities” that are actually centers for child exploitation. In fewer instances, impoverished Nepalese parents make desperate decisions to take their children themselves to children’s homes under the assumption that they will at least have a chance at an education and a successful life. However, these parents do not think the homes’ managers would ever send their children overseas through adoption. They assume that children’s homes will care for their kids until they enter college and can work on their own.

According to The U.S. State Department website, the United States “continues to strongly recommend that prospective adoptive parents refrain from adopting children from Nepal due to grave concerns about the reliability of Nepal’s adoption system and credible reports that children have been stolen from birth parents, who did not intend to irrevocably relinquish parental rights as required by INA 101(b)(1)(F). We also strongly urge adoption service providers not to accept new applications for adoption from Nepal.” To read more about the US State Department’s guidelines on adoptions from Nepal click here.

By LT

Last year: Children left devastated by the earthquake in Nepal in 2015 were preyed upon by slave traders… Wealthy British families are buying children left devastated by last year’s earthquake in Nepal to work as domestic slaves. The children – who are as young as 10 – are being sold for as little as £5,250 (Rs 500,000, $7,468) by black market gangs operating in India’s Punjab region, according to an investigation by The Sun. I published about Nepal here.

Here is another adoption trafficking victim here.

Just remember conflict areas like Syria are ripe for human trafficking.

 

Survivor | Hero | Umran’s brother | you/me/we

Former Indian school student remembers good, bad times

By CHRISTINA LIEFFRING SOURCE

GENOA, NEBRASKA — Sid Byrd, a former student at Genoa Indian Industrial School, opened his talk in August at the annual school reunion with a story about his name.  “My middle named used to be Oliver, but I changed it to Howard because I got sick and tired of initialing S.O.B,” he said.

The 97-year-old (or 97 winters, as his tribe says) is a gifted storyteller who managed to slip in slivers of humor while recalling the hardships and discrimination he faced while attending the Indian school.  Byrd grew up in Porcupine, South Dakota, as a member of the Flandreau Santee Sioux Tribe. In 1927, Byrd was sent to the Genoa Indian School to receive a Western education. His biggest struggle as a child was learning to speak English. Byrd, who grew up speaking Lakota, said English had many sounds that did not exist in his native language. And children were harshly punished for speaking their own language.

Byrd recalled a story of a little boy who was crying one night while others were sleeping and began to pray in his native tongue. He was reported and punished by being sent to “the hole.”

“God hears all prayers, whatever language,” the boy told Byrd. “Was it wrong for me to pray?”

KEEP READING

Standing Rock Tribal Nation needs your HELP with their big standoff with Big Oil #NoDAPL:

On HEROES:

According to Joseph Campbell, the hero emerges from humble beginnings to undertake a journey fraught with trials and suffering.  He or she survives those ordeals and returns to the community bearing a gift — a “boon,” as Campbell called it — in the form of a message from which people can learn and benefit.  So, properly, the hero is an exceptional person who gives his life over to a purpose larger than himself and for the benefit of others. Campbell had often lamented our failure as human beings “to admit within ourselves the carnivorous, lecherous fever” that seems endemic to our species. “By overcoming the dark passions,” he told Moyers, “the hero symbolizes our ability to control the irrational savage within us.” READ

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By Lara Trace

I’m back (blazing a bright new writing path I hope). A big birthday happens for me in a few days. I have a 9-9 birthday. This year is 9-9-9.  That can mean an end or completion. At this six decade milestone, I find myself more excited to plan the next 30+ years… There is more… more adventure, more everything.  Sid Byrd the survivor is my inspiration – 97 and still telling stories!

As this presidential campaign makes abundantly clear, no hero is going to swoop in to save us. We have to be our own heroes.

How you/me/we SEE the world and VISION the future, that matters most.

These massive overt and covert military defeats prompted one former CIA acting director to campaign for the killing of Russians and Iranians in Syria during an interview in the mainstream media. (Really?)

War is a global industry. As Americans, we don’t have bombs hitting our house and all these world conflicts are massively confusing and frightening. There are powerful people (very few) making decisions we don’t agree with or understand, obviously.

Then this happened. This image (below) of Umran, a little Syrian child, age 5, gripped the world. It shook us awake.  We ask (and ask and ask), why is any war or this war necessary?  What is the religious or political dogma behind it?  Why are there so many militarists at war?  Does war bring peace or more war?  Who benefits from any war?    Who are all these Arms Dealers and weapons manufacturers*?  [The arms industry is one of the most profitable and powerful industries in the world.] Who are the private contractors?  Who decides who drops the bombs?  Who wants What?  Is this war in Syria about oil (again) or seizing land or just another tribal conflict you/me/we can’t understand?  Who knows the truth?  Why and how did the US evolve in to this righteous world bully?  Who today is better at being the conqueror: Russia, China or America? Or are we seeing another illusion (again) and is something bigger manipulating us like pawns and puppets?

Does this small child understand the powers-that-be who bombed his village, his family and killed his brother?

Umran’s brother Ali, age 10, died from his injuries on August 20.

What I’ve learned from many elders is we are all related, all human. There will always be disagreements, feuds, conflicts.  People create reasons, dogma, and rationale to fight and make war games on each other.  We can also disarm.  We can also negotiate.  People can always choose to negotiate, to unite, to stand down, and to not kill. (People must unite.)

How in the world? MAKE PEACE in your own family, in your own corner of the planet, in your own community, in your own heart!

If you/me/we don’t, many more children will be harmed and killed.

US Has Killed More Than 20 Million In 37 Nations Since WWII *Weapons manufacturing is a $400 billion dollar industry. 6 of the 9 most powerful weapons companies are located in the U.S

READ

In a recent speech by the Pope at the Vatican, he denounced the leaders of the war/weapons industry of being greedy tyrants, profiting from other people’s deaths:

“This is why some people don’t want peace: they make more money from war, although wars make money but lose lives, health, education. The devil enters through our wallets.”

Keep an OPEN MIND!

Ask yourself: Who makes the money?

 

{p.s. Hope you like the new blog design. It still needs tweaks…xoxox}

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From the Dark Ages of Adoption to the better SOS VILLAGES

By Lara Trace Hentz

It’s hard to find words when you examine adoption as an industry. First you think (and you’d be right) that adoption was meant for war orphaned children.  Orphans, of course, had no living parent, grandparent or other close relatives.  With all the war, conflicts and climate refugees in the world right now, indeed some events do kill both parents, leaving children orphaned, like in Syria.  One solution, the SOS Village, was created in Austria in 1949 for this very reason. (HISTORY) That is why SOS Villages were created internationally to house and home the children who are then raised by one dedicated stay-at-home mother and the village school would educate the orphan – again, these children are war orphans with no living parents. (Top Photo)  The village (with more than one house dedicated to these orphan children) is a necessary form of care.  (These children retain their names and cultural identity, of course…)

Approximately 63,000 children and young people live in 518 SOS Children’s Villages and 392 SOS Youth Facilities around the world. (2015)

There is another dark age of adoption to consider.  That is when organized religion stepped in and created a profitable industry of peddling babies and the children of unwed mothers to infertile adoptive parents who were practicing the same religion.  I wonder if these religions found the need, or were creating the need, or worse, making judgment on unwed women – intending to create a brand new adoption industry, a baby market called adoption, aka child trafficking (and for handsome profit.)

A child is not an orphan if they have living parents, right? Not exactly. The orphanage industry (like in Haiti and Samoa) became a cesspool of human trafficking. Even in the US today, child protective services could be transferred to this type of SOS Village program to serve the needs of children without a parent.

There will be more orphans.

Let’s put children first, not religion…

There are three SOS villages in the USA. READ:  SOS Children’s Villages Illinois

In 1993, the organisation opened the country’s first two SOS Children’s Villages in Broward County, Florida and in Lockport, Illinois. In 2004, a third SOS Children’s Village went into operation on the South Side of Chicago, one of the poorest neighbourhoods in the area.  SOS Children’s Villages is an independent, non-governmental, social development organisation that provides family-based care for children in 134 countries and territories and that advocates the concerns, rights and needs of children.  More than 140,000 children and young people attend SOS Hermann Gmeiner Schools, SOS Kindergartens and SOS Vocational Training Centres.


 

 

 

DARK HISTORY OF ADOPTION

The Movement for an Adoption Apology: Forced adoption: the mothers fighting to find their lost children

At the height of the 1960s, more than 16,000 British babies were adopted – many against the will of their birth mothers. Yvonne Roberts meets women forced to give up their children
helen jeffreys holding baby david in the 60s
The way we were: Helen Jeffreys, then aged 18, in 1966 with baby Adam (later named David) before his adoption. Photograph: Mike Lawn Mike Lawn/PR

The truth, the secret Veronica had kept for years, is that far from being childless, in 1964, in her 20s, she had given birth to a daughter, Catherine. What happened after the birth has fuelled an anger in her that refuses to be dampened. “I, and thousands of women like me, were coerced into giving up our children,” she says. “I was a perfectly healthy, capable adult. I’m still angry my child was taken away.” The social, economic and religious pressures that existed at the time are easily forgotten now that the stigma of illegitimacy has been erased and sex without a wedding ring is the norm.

Veronica was a nurse in Butlin’s Holiday Camp in Bognor Regis in 1964, and going out with Sam, when she became pregnant. “There was no abortion. The doctor suggested gins, a hot bath and a douche, ” she says. “I wrote to my sister and she said, ‘Mummy and I are coming to see you.’ My mother was very religious and my father was a lieutenant colonel. She said it would kill him, so he never knew. I was sent to the Catholic Crusade of Rescue. I was a trained nurse, how could I not think for myself? But I was brought up to be an obedient Catholic. It destroyed my relationship with Sam.” She was sent to a Catholic hostel in Brixton, south London. “It was the so-called Swinging Sixties, yet we were made to scrub the floors as penance for our sins. I held my daughter for a week. And then she was gone.”

helen jeffreys with son David (born Adam) in 1995
‘I had a feeling he needed to be found’: Helen Jeffreys reunited with son David (born Adam) in 1995. Photograph: Mike Lawn Mike Lawn/PR

Earlier this month, Veronica was one of a small and unlikely group of doughty women, in their 60s and 70s, dressed in varying shades of red, carrying placards, who demonstrated outside the Odeon Cinema, Leicester Square, London. For many, it was their first taste of public protest. The women are members of MAA, the Movement for an Adoption Apology. Set up in 2010, it is an offshoot of the Natural Parents Network that offers support to people affected by adoption. What prompted MAA’s launch was the decision by the state of Western Australia to issue an official apology for forced adoptions that took place several decades ago.

Other states followed, culminating, in March this year, in the then prime minister, Julia Gillard, announcing a substantial support fund and a national mea culpa. “We deplore the shameful practices that denied you, the mothers, your fundamentals rights and responsibilities to love and care for your children,” she said in front of 800 people affected by forced adoptions. “You were not legally or socially acknowledged as mothers and you yourselves were deprived of care. You were forced to endure the coercion and brutality of practices that were unethical, dishonest and, in many cases, illegal.”

The members of MAA argue that adoptions during the same period in the UK were similarly highly flawed. They seek a public apology from the British government for women who were also “coerced, cajoled and conned” into giving up their babies. Earlier this year, an Early Day Motion in the House of Commons for a UK apology attracted 88 signatures, but progress has been slow. Perhaps this is because it’s a challenge now to fathom the ferocity of punitive disapproval for a girl who “got herself into trouble”.

The MAA supporters are hoping the lack of understanding may be countered by the film Philomena, starring Judi Dench, about the forced adoption of a three-year-old boy, Anthony, in postwar Ireland. Hence MAA’s presence at the screening in Leicester Square.

Judi Dench and Philomena Lee
Judi Dench with Philomena Lee at the premiere of ‘Philomena’. Photograph: Jon Furniss/Invision for BFI

The film, co-written by and co-starring Steve Coogan, tells the true tale of Philomena Lee’s 50-year search for her son Anthony – a hunt helped by the journalist Martin Sixsmith. Philomena had been “put away” in a County Tipperary convent as a teenager, pregnant and deemed a “fallen woman”. She worked without pay in the laundry, seeing Anthony for an hour a day until he was given to an American couple from Missouri in return for a “donation”. Mother and son repeatedly returned to the convent for information about each other, but the nuns kept silent.  Anthony – now Michael – finally left his mother the only clue he could, his tombstone in the convent’s graveyard. The film, Steve Coogan has said, “is about tolerance and understanding”.

When I first met Veronica and other MAA supporters, several months ago, it transpired that it was action not tolerance that they seek. Initially, it’s hard to see how a government apology is appropriate when their stories are of such profound personal loss. In the 1950s and 1960s, an estimated half a million women became unmarried mothers. Their experiences are a television staple. The drama of lives lived in reverse has a powerful hold, beginning with the mourning for the loss of a child and ending – at least on the TV screen – in celebration at the birth of a new relationship.

However, as I met the women of MAA, they revealed the extent of the stain of secrecy and internalised shame. For some, there were also the complexities of reunions; the negative emotions unexpectedly triggered as deep-frozen memories thawed; the impact of families reshaped and the joy but also the fresh wounds that sometimes prove impossible to heal.

Helen Jeffreys became pregnant at 17 in 1965, in Harrogate. She gave birth to her son in Leeds. “I was 18 and a perfectly competent mother. I wanted to keep him,” Helen, now 65 and a counsellor, says. “My social worker refused to offer any help other than to facilitate adoption. When Adam was two months old I had to leave the mother-and-baby home. I was told that if I had nowhere to go he must be placed for adoption. When I signed the papers not one official asked me if this is what I wanted.”

Adoption then meant a complete break. Helen believed she would never see her son again. Only much later, in 1975, did it become possible for adopted children, at 18, to request their birth certificate. Adam’s birth was also long before legislation that would have given him and his mother a home; the benefits system was limited and the voluntary organisations which offered help did so in the language of sin and moral welfare. Other influences were in play, too, that shaped the ” free choice” of unmarried mothers to give up their babies “for their own good”.

Half a Million Women, an analysis published by the Post-Adoption Centre in 1992, illustrates how unmarried mothers were seen not as victims of bad luck but often pathologised as “emotionally disturbed” and a “discredited person”. (The men, at worst, had to endure shotgun marriages.)

Paradoxically, the woman who gave her baby up for adoption was judged mentally healthy and emotionally stable; those who fought to keep their child were classed as immature and unfit to be a mother.  This was a cruel twist as the lack of practical and emotional support might eventually drive a woman to the edge. Add to that the then much stronger influence of religion and the role of society in coercion becomes more of a reality.

“Anna”, a MAA member now aged 75, came from an affluent Catholic family. Training as a nursery nurse, she became pregnant at the age of 21 in 1959, as the result of a rape. Her parents would only consider adoption. “The baby was mixed race so I knew she would be hard to adopt,” Anna says. “For three months I visited her at the foster home. I don’t know why I gave her away. I still can’t answer that question. It makes me ashamed. On the appointed day, I told my daughter, ‘I’m going to find you one day.’ That was my goodbye. I hate the church for what it made me do and how it’s made me feel. It’s hard to disentangle your own identity from the idea that you are somehow ‘unfit’.”

In 1968, the peak year for adoptions, 16,164 children went through the system, three out of four under the age of one. By 1984, the colloquial term “bastards” had been banished. Official documents referred to “births outside marriage”; contraception and abortion were available, the social mores were changing dramatically. The number of adoptions in 1984 had fallen to 4,189, only 43% of whom were babies. But the cost to many of the unwed mothers of the 50s and 60s proved high.

“I lost my son for 29 years and it had a huge effect on me,” Helen Jeffreys says. “I went through a period when I drank, I took drugs. I have underperformed for my entire life. I am no good at relationships. On the day Adam was adopted, right until the last minute, I was hoping for a reprieve, for clemency. It was like a death sentence.”

Jean Robertson-Molloy, 77, is a retired social worker.  She is open and effervescent, a founder member of MAA who is also active in the Green Party. Her life has also been moulded by that one decision. “My story,” she says wryly, talking at her home in north London, “is a very downbeat Mamma Mia.” In 1963, aged 24, she travelled to New Zealand, and in a short space of time she had had sexual encounters with three men. The first was Keith, who raped her. The other two, Andy and Don, were consensual partners. “Don and I drove up the west coast in his little Fiat,” she says. “We had a tent and camped for four or five days. I enjoyed it. He was a lovely man.”

Soon, Jean realised she was pregnant. She arranged to have her baby adopted in Australia, telling her parents that she was sightseeing. “Later, when my mother learned the truth,” Jean says, “she was in tears. She said they would have helped me to keep her if they’d known. I never held my daughter,” Jean adds, eyes brimming. “I was so afraid to hold her in case I had maternal feelings. Of the three men, I chose the one I liked least, Keith, as the probable father. Ever since, it’s almost as if I want people to accept the worst things about me. Years later, when I did find my daughter, I realised that the lovely guy, Don, had to be her dad.”

Jean married in 1970. Her husband was 10 years younger. When their children, Johnny and Caroline, were four and five, “he waltzed off so I ended up a single parent anyway”. Twenty years, later, in 1991, Jean traced her daughter, Amanda, who had been raised by an affluent Australian family. “I pretended I was travelling around Australia and asked if I could see her. I think I overwhelmed her. She said we could meet for three hours.” Amanda was happily married to an architect and had three daughters. “She was very ambivalent,” Jean says. “Worse than anger is anger you don’t express. We never talked about our feelings.”

For years, contact consisted of two or three letters a year. Then, in 2010, Amanda saw a newspaper photograph of Jean in the Green Party. “She said she felt a twinge of connection.” Amanda came to London and stayed with her birth mother for two weeks. “I said all the wrong things,” Jean says tearfully. “I was trying to cram in 40 years of advice. I asked her, ‘Why do you always wear black?’ I didn’t mean it critically.” For the last few days of her visit, Amanda moved into a hotel. “She said, ‘We are two very different people.’ Back in Australia, Amanda told Jean that she didn’t want to have any further contact.

Jean hasn’t heard from her daughter since. “The apology isn’t so much for me,” she says, “but for the many women, still silent. It might make the unspeakable speakable.”

Making a stand: Jean and Veronica (centre and right) protest at the premiere of Philomena in London
Making a stand: Jean and Veronica (centre and right) protest at the premiere of Philomena in London. Photograph: Karen Robinson for the Observer Karen Robinson/Observer

Veronica is one who kept her secret until she had a breakdown in 1989. “All the grief that I had locked away came tumbling out.” Aged 58, she then began to look for her daughter. Catherine was eventually found, aged 24. “She didn’t want to know me,” Veronica says. “I was devastated.” She had to wait another 10 years before Catherine resumed contact, prompted by the arrival of her own child. “Catherine’s adopted mother died recently and we’ve become closer,” Veronica says. “Feelings are bound to be complicated if your child has been rejected. I just want her to be happy.”

Linda Jones, 63, like Philomena, raised her daughter, Carly, until she was three. Then, Linda’s mother arranged an adoption. “My mother was respectable and found the idea I wasn’t married difficult. I was finding it hard to cope,” says Linda. She subsequently married and had a second daughter. Now divorced, it was her younger daughter, aged 29, who traced Carly, 34, through Facebook. “The sisters are in touch, but I have a very strange relationship with my older child,” says Linda. “It’s a lifetime of grief and yearning because she belongs to someone else. Then, when you meet, you realise you will always be half a mother.”

Helen Jeffreys found her son in 1995. Adam, now called David, was 29. Helen, who had married, divorced and had a second son, says: “I had a feeling David needed to be found. Doors opened as if it was meant to happen.” He had been an only child. His adopted mother had died when he was 12, and his adopted father at 18. “He is part of my extended family now,” Helen says. “He gets on really well with my father, which is ironic. My dad said, ‘Why was he adopted? But he was the one who told me to leave the house.

“When I met David it was as if he was an old friend. We went to music gigs and drank a lot of real ale. He was a bit lost. We talked and talked.” Helen is a Buddhist and now David is, too. However, Helen’s second son no longer speaks to her, although he is friends with David on Facebook. “He said he felt displaced. He told me, ‘I look at this bloke. I can see he’s my brother, but he’s a complete stranger. It does my head in.'”

“It’s not always been easy with Helen,” says David, who is now 47 and has been happily married to a younger friend of his mother’s for 13 years. “But I am glad I know her. I don’t feel resentment. My mother says hardly a day went by when she didn’t wonder what had happened to me. She never wanted to do it. That’s a big burden for any mother to carry.”

Many who gave up their children for adoption in the 50s and 60s did so willingly and without regret. For others, MAA insists, a government apology, backed by funding to help those women who have silently fallen apart over the years, is vital. It is unlikely to happen under a coalition government, but MAA has more faith should Labour win power. A public acknowledgement might appear a superficial gesture to younger generations, but for the redoubtable Jean and Veronica and friends, it offers atonement, and that is beyond price.

For information on MAA, email MAANPN@gmail.com. The film Philomena was released internationally.

[I have suggested that tribes adopt this type of village in South Dakota where social workers still remove children at alarming rates, despite the federal law called the Indian Child Welfare Act… Solving and ending tribal poverty in 2016 and beyond could change everything for children… Lara Trace]

What is the Surrender Ritual for al-Assad

By Trace A. DeMeyer

Watching the news about Syria and the “Arab Spring” uprisings,  I ask: How do “civilized nations” deal with dictators in 2013 and can a dictator surrender without being killed?  Can Syrian President al-Assad simply resign?  Will “the civilized” US, England, France and others target specific individuals, the “uncivilized” autocrats/presidents/dictators, and their military leaders in Syria, for killing their own populations in a civil war?  

In the case of Syria, the evidence of using banned weapons is being evaluated by the UN.  But how do we know who sent the bombs? Isn’t that most important before any action is taken? Doesn’t the American public and the Congress need to know all of this prior to targeting and killing certain individuals responsible? What if Syria didn’t drop those chemical weapon bombs?

The way it is now, according to John Robb: Brave New War: The Next Stage of Terrorism and the End of Globalization, “The portion of the national hierarchy involved in the use of the banned weapon (as in Syria) would be deemed a terrorist organization and specific people would be placed onto a target list, prioritized then hunted as individuals.”

Robb suspects as this process matures, targets will be made public (listed on the Internet) and given 60 days to give themselves up).  “After that, it’s a one way ticket.  Drones away…crowdsourced manhunts…NSA big data…and an eventual explosive death (with the requisite collateral damage that nobody seems to care about).  

“In short, warfare in the 21st century IS becoming very, very direct and very public,” Robb writes.

What sort of exit strategy can a dictator take? What does the world accept as a SURRENDER RITUAL? I was thinking of Saddam Hussein in Iraq who had to hide, was hunted down and hung.

A comment on Robb’s post from Racistname offered, “This is being tried in the Third World, look at the case of Charles Taylor. A brutal dictator, believed to be organizing atrocities, eventually found himself on the receiving end of the ire of GW Bush, he opted to flee his country and seek sanctuary in a neighboring country, and was then turned over to the Hague. The clear message this sent, and the proposed tactic above sends, is that

a) surrendering your throne and power will get you killed
b) safety can only be found in the midst of a loyal group, in territory you control
c) if you want group loyalty, force everyone to participate in atrocities as a condition of membership…

“This means conflicts will become more, not less, protracted and brutal…. Without a ‘surrender ritual’ that an autocrat can participate in, the autocrat is incentivized to do anything, no matter how horrific to stay in power, because his fate (death) will be the same either way,” the commenter said.

Some Wiki background on the current “uncivilized autocrat in Syria.”

Bashar Hafez al-Assad (born 11 September 1965) is the President of Syria and Regional Secretary of the Syrian-led branch of the Arab Socialist Ba’ath Party. He has served as President since 2000, when he succeeded his father, Hafez al-Assad, who led Syria for 30 years prior to his death. Al-Assad graduated from the medical school of the University of Damascus in 1988, and started to work as a physician in the army. Four years later, he attended postgraduate studies at the Western Eye Hospital, in London, specializing in ophthalmology. In 1994, after his elder brother Bassel, the heir apparent to their father, was killed in a car crash, Bashar was promptly recalled to Syria to take over Bassel’s role. He entered the military academy, and took charge of the Syrian occupation of Lebanon in 1998. In December 2000, Assad married Asma Assad, née Akhras. Al-Assad was reconfirmed by the national electorate as President of Syria in 2000 and 2007, after the People’s Council of Syria had voted to propose the incumbent each time.[1][2]  Initially seen by the domestic and international community as a potential reformer, this expectation ceased when he ordered a mass crackdown and military sieges on pro-rebel protesters amid recent civil war, described by some commentators as related to the wider “Arab Spring” movement.[3] The domestic Syrian opposition and much of the Western world, along with a number of pro-Western Arab states, have subsequently called for al-Assad’s resignation from the presidency.[4]

So how does a dictator like al-Assad resign? What is the Surrender Ritual? The world needs to know.

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European police arrest 103 in suspected human trafficking ring

By Ed Payne, CNN

January 31, 2013

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103 arrested in Europe trafficking sting

STORY HIGHLIGHTS

  • Human trafficking generates an estimated $32 billion a year
  • Police in Europe arrest 103 people in 10 countries
  • Most of those smuggled were recruited from Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Syria and Turkey
  • Many of the migrants come into the EU through Turkey and the Western Balkans

(CNN) — Officials are calling it one of the largest operations against human traffickers in Europe.

Police in Europe arrested 103 people in 10 countries this week, all accused of smuggling in people on boats, freight trains and small hidden compartments in the floors of buses and trucks.

The massive operation spanned a host of European nations and deployed more than 1,200 police officers.

The operation descended on homes and properties across Croatia, Czech Republic, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Poland, Slovak Republic, Turkey and Kosovo region in the early hours of Tuesday morning. Related operations took place in Switzerland and Austria.

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Their search yielded 176,500 euros (about $240,000) in cash, plus a collection of mobile phones, laptops, bank statements and a semiautomatic rifle with a large amount of ammunition.

“All arrested persons are suspected of being involved in the clandestine smuggling of a large number of irregular migrants into and within the European Union mainly via Turkey and the Western Balkan region,” a Europol statement said. Europol is the European Union’s law enforcement agency,

Most of those being smuggled were recruited from Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Syria and Turkey by the criminal ring targeted in these raids.

Human trafficking is a global multibillion dollar business, only ranking behind illegal drugs and arms trafficking, according to the U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime. It is believed to generate profits of an estimated $32 billion, according to a 2005 report from the International Labour Organization. Half of those profits come from industrialized nations.

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