‘Our kids have new names, go to church. We don’t even know’

via By Amit Singh - http://www.mid-day.com/news/2009/dec/071209-children-christian-conversion-unaware-parents.htm published on December 7, 2009

Say angry parents. The trust says the parents have signed a 20-year contract promising non-interference in the children’s lives. Poor parents are unaware of the contract

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=444ZDJpoGYY&hl=en_GB&fs=1&rel=0&color1=0x006699&color2=0x54abd6]

Eight-year-old Anila Paswan has a new name, Mary. So does 10-year-old Shivani, who is now known as Damaris.

So, where’s the problem? Well, their parents don’t know.p>

The parents allege they haven’t seen their children for five months and the organisation, Comademat Charitable Trust, managed by a couple from Brazil Aldemir De Souza and his wife Darlene has been avoiding their attempts to contact the girls.

The trust’s official documents say Aldemir, age 37, is a nurse by profession and his wife Darlene, 28, is a specialist in child education, childcare and welfare.


What’s in name?


The two girls were handed over to the trust by their poor families about two years ago. In return, the parents were assured the girls would be provided good education, free food and accommodation. The change of name came as a
shock.

What the law says
The anti-conversion law is in force in Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Orissa, Himachal Pradesh and Gujarat.
Officially termed the Freedom of Religion Act, the law restricts conversions by use of force, deceit or allurement. The punishment for anyone convicted of the offence differs from state to sate.

Trying
to trace the children, when MiD DAY reached orthland International
School, Faridabad, where the girls had been studying till October last
year, the change of names was revealed. The principal of
Northland International School, Vikash Sharma, said the trust had
enrolled 12 girls in the school but they were pulled out in October
last year.

“The trust submitted an affidavit saying all expenses
towards fees, books and stationery of the girls will be borne by the
trust,” said Sharma. A copy of the affidavit, which MiD DAY has, lists
12 girls with ‘Christian’ names. “I didn’t know my daughter’s
name had been changed or that she has been converted to Christianity. I
don’t even know when the conversion process took place. I called up the
trust to speak to her and was asked by them to address her as Mary,”
said Suresh Paswan, working as a labourer in a farmhouse near Gurgaon.
Paswan had contacted MiD DAY on Friday evening reporting that his
daughter had gone missing.Pitambar, a taxi driver who had
handed over his 10-year-old daughter Shivani to the trust, said,
“Without asking me they changed my daughter’s name. When I asked the
reason, they said, it was difficult to pronounce. I didn’t object
because she was happy.

‘Kids untraceable’

The parents say they haven’t met the girls for a long time. “We
last met our daughter five months ago. In fact, we were rebuked by the
caretaker there for visiting her so often. We were asked to come after
six months. But for the past one month, there has been no word. We
called up the trust’s number but no one answered,” said Paswan. When
this reporter visited the rented residence of the trust at B-1083,
Greenfield Apartments, Faridabad, he found the girls had been shifted
out a month ago. There was no forwarding address with the neighbours. “The trust never informed us the girls were being taken to another residence. As parents, don’t we have theright?” asked a harried Paswan, when MiD DAY informed him about the change of address.

‘Parents signed contract’

The Other Side
Darlene and Aldemir said they were
out of India. In an email, Darlene De Souza said, “I want to inform you
that we are out of India for a surgery. We have all the documents and
the parents know everything. We are only in India to help those needy
children.”

Meanwhile, when finally, MiD
DAY traced the trust to its new address at 134, Sector-21/D, Faridabad,
the flat was locked from inside. A girl, who introduced herself as the
caretaker of the trust’s flat, informed the children had been taken to
a church and would return shortly. She informed Darlene and
her husband had gone abroad and would only return on January 10.
Another caretaker, who identified himself as Mishra, said, “The parents
were informed about the new address. Maybe we missed informing some of
them.” However, Mishra avoided queries about the girls’ change
of names.

“The parents have signed a 20-year-contract with the trust,
which says none of them will interfere with the way the children are
being brought up. The trust will take care of the children in return,”
said Mishra.However, the parents claim they are unaware of any
contract. “To my knowledge I have not signed any paper. The only thing
which they (the trust) asked me to get is a certificate from the school
where she was studying earlier. It’s still with me,” said Paswan.

Meanwhile, neighbours at the trust’s earlier address said many parents had come looking for their daughters. Kusum
Dhoundiyal, a neighbour, said, “Everyday someone or the other comes
asking about the children. The children had been staying here for three
years. But a month ago we saw them shifting out around 7 or 8 in the
evening.”Another neighbour, Dr GK Wadhwa, said, “Many
foreigners used to visit this house regularly. We were under the
impression that it was an NGO working for poor and orphaned children. A
foreigner who used to take care of the kids used to visit this place
often.”

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