Nepali Times
Cashing it big on children



Hundreds of orphanages in Nepal are being run as businesses, filled with children who would have been left with their families if orphanage owners weren't making money by keeping them in homes.

Child rights organisations estimate that there are about 15,000 children in orphanages although the number is difficult to track because disreputable owners move children around to avoid scrutiny. Many have been lured away from poor families, especially in remote districts such as Humla (see overleaf), with promises of education in Kathmandu.

That practice is familiar from the adoption racket, which saw fake "orphans" matched up with Western parents who paid thousands of dollars to adopt a Nepali child. Farid Ait-Mansour of Next Generation Nepal says: "Everything is linked. Adoption is just one part of the trafficking problem."

Other children end up in prostitution, child labour or begging. "When there is no inter-country adoption the number of children [in orphanages] always decreases. They send the children elsewhere," says Dharma Raj Shrestha, Director General of the government's Central Child Welfare Board (CCWB). "Children who reached European countries may be lucky ones. Unfortunately, some children could have gone to India and Gulf countries. There is no proper record."

With adoption currently frozen by a dozen Western countries due to rampant fraud, new revenue streams have emerged, like luring foreign volunteers to work in fake orphanages over the Internet. "It seems like a big source of income is foreign volunteers," said one diplomat. "If it wasn't for this income they would probably have been left with their families."

According to another international: "You've got foreigners flying in, volunteering for short periods, sometimes with the best of intentions, sometimes with other intentions."

There is no vetting or background checks of volunteers. Shrestha of the CCWB said that he is aware of cases of sexual abuse by "volunteers". Next Generation Nepal has evidence of children sometimes kept in abject conditions to maximise donations from foreigners. Orphanage owners sometimes sell gifts of clothes and toys after the volunteer has left. Sometimes the children do not even receive the education which their parents were promised.

Several NGOs have withdrawn funding from the orphanage sector over fears that children are being unnecessarily institutionalised in money-making schemes. But a Google search reveals many private tour companies offering volunteering holidays in Nepal. The volunteer ends up paying thousands of dollars after arriving.

Several Thamel travel agencies have murky links with children's homes in the capital. The CCWB has a list of 454 orphanages, most of them in the Kathmandu Valley, although they admit there could be many unregistered ones.

"Pokhara and Chitwan are also dangerously populated by child care homes," says Shrestha, whose agency grades homes A-D for their standard of care, and most of them fall in the C and D categories. He says influential orphanage owners have good contact with the donors in Europe, a steady flow of funds, and want a loose easy-going policy from the government. Nepali businessmen often roam through Europe making contacts with potential donors for their fake orphanages.

The government has no effective policy on children's homes. There is no proper method of assessment in cases where a child may actually need to be put in an orphanage. No orphanages in Nepal, including Bal Mandir, receive any government funding so they are forced to look elsewhere to raise cash.

Shrestha says that some of the most abusive orphanages urgently need to be shut down the CCWB rarely acts because they have no-where to put the rescued children. "There are some good orphanages," admits Shrestha.Asked what happens in the bad ones he reels off a list: physical punishment, torture, sexual abuse, begging duty on the street, one meal a day, no treatment when they fall sick, no schooling.

Read also:
Long journey home, RUBEENA MAHATO
Instead of being commended, rescuers of Nepali girls are condemned

See also:
Adoption from Nepal is beginning to look like trafficking

Cinderella Children, PHILIP HOLMES
Suspending inter-country adoption will deny kids in need the chance of a better life

Children trapped between supply and demand, JENNIFER LOWE
Where does adoption end and trafficking begin for Nepal's children?

1. Henry Scobie

Here is a terrific thread on the Kathmandu children home rackets.

2. Bobby Adhikari
1. If write think that to help the Children, provide food, shelter,education, and family inviroment and Love how do you think that is business?
2. If one orphan do wring how can you blame all the orphan home are business home?
3. Why writer always sell the article with  Negative thing ? I have seen there is so many good orphan home with good care and sufficent family inviroment.
If this orphan home shut down and all the children came in street what will be the result of Nepal? Who will take care them ?

3. James
Bobby, you fail to understand that very few children in these homes are orphans, many could stay at home with no support. Most of the remainder could stay at home with less financial support than it costs to keep them in the orphanage.
1 Orphanages are not family environments, they are nothing like them, too many people to feel like a family, have you ever seen a meal time in an orphanage, it is nothing like a family.
2 Because there is no such thing as a good orphanage, just less bad one. Some people have good motives for starting them, but there is so much potential for abuse.
3 Rubbish
You don't close them all overnight, first you stop new children entering by offering support to keep families together, then you trace the families of those who are in the orphanages and once the family is strong enough you reunite, then if there are some left over you set up fostering schemes, it takes time and money, but in the medium to long term it will cost much less.

4. Saagar
One cruicial issue of adoption escaped Thomas Bell: the accreditation of adoption agencies by receiving countries. Both sending and receiving countries are generally not interested in adoption as it is an extra burden to the state apparatus and mostly of limited political significance. Being childless is also seen as a private issue not to be dealt with by the state (at least if it is beyond cheap medical treatment), so the adopting parents have to carry the fiancial burden of adoptions. Most receiving countries solve this by accrediting adoption agencies that serve as agents for the adoptive parents. These agencies come in all hues and shades and are the money makers at the receiving countries' end. Some countries are very stringent about accreditations, others couldn't care less. In the latter category you find for instance Italy, Spain, Canada and the USA (and more). At the same time, in these countries you will find both good and bad apples among the adoption agencies. These agencies' intermediaries and their attitudes transplanted to their clients handing out cash are a key factor in giving adoption a bad name in Nepal. The way Thomas Bell writes with a broad pen makes the reader believe international adoption is all about wads of cash changing hands. That is a huge oversimplification and doesn't do justice to neither adoptve parents' nor needy children that may not have other options. The bottom line is that childless couples have to pay for the services rendered by governments and their intermediaries, and that different agencies have different practices how this is done. What is lacking is a morality among these agencies, operational guidelines for the agencies and stringent policies in their home lands that they actually adhere to (The Hague Convention comes short of this ). The Nepal government needs sufficient strength and self confidence to stand up and refuse the presence of bad apples in Nepal (learn from China), and itself be wise and transparent in how received funds are spent. This will serve to curb at least some of the most corruption problem of intercountry adoption seen in the interaction between receiving and sending country.

5. Saagar
It is naive to believe that orphanages will become obsolete in Nepal, or that inter-country adoption cannot be an option is as long as 2 million Nepalese men reside abroad, in-country labor migration is common and the rural-urban migration wave continues. Add to it, the absence of sound alcohol policies, a lax drug control, the lack of general law and order, and weak position of women and children in legal and common-law practices and rampant poverty, all lead to more disunited family lives and breakdown of family structures. There will be more children on the streets that nobody will care for. 

6. Mia
Thank you for shedding light on this appalling issue. It's really sad the most powerless are the ones screwed over and over again because there is no one body/regulation that oversees the welfare of these poor children. And of course they don't have housing facilities for the "rescued" children, course the government is helpless. Only if there was one conscientious politician who really cared about the issue...

7. Henry Scobie

Are you Brother Bobby Adhikari?


Pentecostals in Nepal: A New Beginning for Rajesh

July 13, 2009

By Tom Velie 

As of January 1, 2009, New Beginnings, an adoption service started by Apostolics, was officially registered to provide international adoption services from the country of Nepal. We have already submitted our 10 allowed dossiers for 2009, but are looking for more families to adopt in 2010. At this time, we have received no inquiries from Apostolic families.  Things are moving ahead nicely for the international program. 

Some History

In April 2007, Stephen Drury and I traveled to Nepal. We met with Brother Bobby Adhikari, who we hired as our representative in Nepal. He also serves as the Secretary for the UPCI of Nepal, and is a great young man. We expected to begin the adoption process at that time, but the Nepali government decided to rewrite the adoption guidelines about one month after our return.  

In May 2008, we received a visit from the official delegation there, including Mr. Madhov Paudel, who is a high-ranking government secretary. The group of five men representing the Ministry of Women, Children, and Social Welfare spent three days in Tupelo, MS. We thoroughly enjoyed the visit.  We had a grand banquet to honor them, and Mr. Paudel was given the keys to the city of Tupelo.   

Big News

The big news is the orphan home in Nepal. Important fact: a child born in Nepal is reportedly the least  likely child born on earth to ever hear the name of Jesus. Now the children who come to the New Beginnings of Nepal home will have that opportunity.

8. Tom
In the interest of journalistic truth,  the author of this article ought to have researched his subject matter better.  Simply hanging an article on the premise that the Nepali adoptoin system and orphanages are full of corruption and riddle with money hungry people is simply insulting to the reader and tarnishes the reputation of good and honest people who put their heart and soul into helping children in Nepal.

The author makes no attempt to balance in his accusations in the interest of protecting the people who help others.

Sensationalist nonsense and hugely insulting.

9. Henry Scobie


Nepal's adoption trafficking is well documented.


Nepal: Children for sale (Al Jazeera):

Swiss National Radio on Nepali adoptions (an English translation is available at PEAR Nepal):

Or Harry Lime's blog:


(11 JAN 2013 - 17 JAN 2013)