“HANCI sold our children abroad” angry parents claim
Parents and guardians of children who are reported to have been illegally adopted as orphans and flown abroad continue to maintain their stance that their children were sold abroad and that it was a deal carried out by local NGO ‘Help A Needy Child International, (HANCI)’ Sierra Express Media has been reliably informed.
Although officials of HANCI continue to maintain innocence in the matter, a local NGO, Foundation for Democratic Initiative and Development, (FDID) has embarked on an investigation into the matter following appeals from the affected parents and guardians.
FDID Country Director Mr. Hindowa Emmanuel Saidu in an interview with Sierra Express Media revealed that a special team has been dispatched to the Northern city of Makeni by his organization to have first hand information on the ongoing child trafficking saga between parents in the city and HANCI.
The controversy between parents and guardians of children allegedly adopted and flown abroad and HANCI is a long drawn matter which has been existing since 1997 when a report was made to the Human Rights office of the United Nations Mission in Sierra Leone (UNAMSIL).
A court action had been instituted with HANCI as the accused. Dr. Roland Foday Kargbo, executive director of HANCI and two others were charged with a twenty-three count charge of conspiracy to commit a felony contrary to section 56 of the offences against the person’s Act 186. However, after a protracted trial in Magistrate Court No. 1, in Freetown, the matter was suddenly discharged through the orders of Inspector General of Police Mr. Acha Kamara, claiming “for want of prosecution.”
The parents had complained over the dismissed case, stating that it was done through corruption. The parents and guardians continue to maintain that they never gave their children to be adopted as orphans and carried abroad.
“Our children were accepted into HANCI in 2004, with the understanding that they were incorporated into the welfare home programme and not for adoption,” said Mr. Sulliman M. Suma whose daughter Mabinty Suma was one of those trafficked out of the country by HANCI when she was at the tender age of seven and since then she has not been either seen or heard of.
Although all the evidence continues to mount, proving that HANCI engaged in deliberately hoodwinking provincial parents into handing their children to them, Dr. Kargbo continues to maintain that there are documents proving that the parents and guardians agreed that their children were to be adopted and sent out of the country.
Investigations however prove that HANCI was engaged in dubious acts of taking away the kids knowing fully well that the parents had no proper knowledge of international adoption and what it entails.
According to the affected parents who spoke to Sierra Express Media, HANCI had only given them a written communication notifying the parents that their children had been admitted into the HANCI Children’s home. “We never agreed that our children should be taken abroad, it was not to our knowledge and we did not support this idea, because no parent will ever agree to have his or her child taken away with no contact,” said Mrs. Memuna Sillah of New Site in Makeni who said her twins were taken from her without her knowledge and flown out of the country.
A Memorandum of Understanding signed between HANCI and the parents, dated March 13th 1997 shows that while the kids were with HANCI, Dr. Rowland Kargbo as director was charged with the onus of furnishing parents with progress of their children after every six months. However, indications reveal that HANCI fell short of the agreement for over a long period, igniting suspicion among the parents who then raised an alarm, claiming the welfare of their children had been compromised.
“The agreement we had with HANCI was for welfare and by no means does not include international adoption, which HANCI is claiming,” said Mr. Saidu Dumbuya, whose three children, Marie, Sento and Alhassan Dumbuya cannot be accounted for by HANCI.
Investigations carried out by Sierra Express Media in collaboration with FDID reveal that the Maine Adoption Placement Services (MAPS) is the recognized organization which had stated its intentions to the Ministry of Social Welfare in Freetown of adopting orphans for adoption in the United States. MAPS had maintained contacts with the wards and parents of the adopted children. MAPS had later ceased operations in Sierra Leone. As soon as MAPC closed its operation in the country, three of the social workers for MAPS, Joseph S. Kargbo, Henry Abu and John Gbla had set up a dubious operation with Dr. Kargbo wherein gullible and illiterate Sierra Leoneans, traumatized by the war handed over their children to them.
“In all the above agreements, there was no written contract for legal adoption of the children, but HANCI went ahead and transported the children to different destinations out of Sierra Leone, and parents hitherto did not know to which countries the children went and who their foster parents were,” a report from the UN Human Right report had stated.
The UN report also stated that representatives of parents who met with Human Rights Officers complained that various governments, since the matter was taken to court, have not shown any interest in pursuing the matter and in intervening to trace the whereabouts of the children. “The case was committed to court but never concluded because of what the parents believe to have been foul play, and there seemed to have been a lot of interference by the perpetrators who allegedly used their money to buy themselves out of the arms of justice,” the report concludes.
The parents are said to have renewed their call for Dr. Kargbo and his associates to face the law and for the government to make a more profound endeavour in ensuring that the hapless parents have links with their lost children.
Attempts to contact Dr. Kargbo for an exclusive and indebt interview proved futile as he has been deliberately avoiding Sierra Express Media.
The parents have been while vowed to pursue the matter to its logical conclusion.