Children’s Hostel under threat, Odisha
A Children’s hostel run by Jacob’s Well Foundation, founded by Sis. Joan Roose, an Australian missionary, has been targeted by the Administration and State Government of Odisha.
Sis. Joan heads the organisation, ably assisted by 17 staff members. The hostel, in Koratput, Odisha, houses 199 students. Children, from the ages of 2 years to 21 years, both boys and girls, from poor families are boarders while they study at their own English Medium School. Independent boys’ and girls’ hostels are run on the same property.
The Foundation has been registered under the Juvenile Justice Act, where 104 children have been sent from CWC and around 100 children on scholarship. The Organisation is registered as a ‘Not for Profit’ company.
Speaking to Persecution Relief, Sis Joan Roose mentioned that as per the Juvenile Justice Act, entry and access to officials from Child Welfare Committee (CWC) and other regulatory bodies, must be provided without any excuse. However, over the last 6 days, they have had 4 visits from the Officials.
“Officials from the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) and the Child Welfare Committee (CWC) made official visits in the last 1 week, to inspect the accommodation. CWC meanwhile conduct a detailed enquiry into the functioning of the Hostel”.
“They focused on Bibles in some of the children’s rooms. Apart from the fact that we have Pastor’s children, attending our Schools, who have their Bibles, if a child asks for a Bible, we give it to them. We do not hand out Bibles”.
“We are not allowed to be present when the children are questioned. All the children were interviewed in isolation and no member of our faculty, were allowed to be party to the interviewing process”.
She claimed this process as being prejudiced and bigoted, as the children felt intimidated by the questioning.
“The questions are worded in such a way that a child who is intimidated could be answering incorrectly. They put a supposition to the Child instead of genuine question seeking answers.
On the 2nd visit, the Koratpur Police wanted a list of staff and list of children at the Hostel”.
During the 3rd and 4th visit, they demanded to see all the financial records of the Hostel including the Audit Reports, as well as the list of all the students and teachers.
On the 4th visit was a man from Delhi, 3 days ago. The schools have a well-equipped library with 6000 books. We have a separate section for “Christian Literature”, and he took photographs of these Christian Books”.
Sis. Joan affirms that the Hostel is run meeting and exceeding all the guidelines and specifications of the Juvenile Justice Act”.
“It is a matter of fact and pride that in all aspects of governance, the Hostel meets and exceeds all expectations – ticks on every single check box.”.
Citing the common rhetoric, Sis. Joan claims that the Hostel is accused of forcibly converting children to Christianity, which is not true. It is alleged that the CWC authorities are under mounting pressure from right wing religious organisations, to shut down all organisations that have any semblance of Christianity.
Apparently there has been no media coverage on this incident except for a biased report in a local daily newspaper, that made a brief mention about “Christian Hostels” run by “Foreign Missionaries” being investigated, giving people an exaggerated, negative and distorted view. It is alleged that the Media are being silenced when factual reporting has never been more critical in a time like now.
Jacob’s Well was founded by Sis. Joan who had come to India, to states of Orissa and Andhra Pradesh. Moved by the condition of the malnourished children with poor health owing to lack of water, especially for the lower-class people, owing to the discrimination by the high caste residents. Since then, they have partnered with many local Indian people who share the same vision allowing Jacob’s Well’, to sink bore wells for the marginalized people.
Seeing the state of the children who were neglected and without education, she embarked on setting up Hostels and Schools for these under-privileged children.
Church, please fast and pray for the protection of all Institutions –Orphanages, Hostels, Schools & Colleges, Hospitals etc. that are being systematically targeted by religious fanatics.
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