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Mother Teresa charity says ties children for safety

July 31, 2005

By Krittivas Mukherjee

NEW DELHI (Reuters) – A charity founded by Mother Teresa
said on Sunday disabled children at one of its homes in India
were restrained for their own safety, after a British
television reporter filmed children tied to their beds.

Britain’s Five News, in a program to be broadcast on
Monday, said it had uncovered “serious shortcomings” at a care
center run by the Missionaries of Charity in Calcutta.

It secretly filmed many of the 59 children — aged six
months to 12 years — living at the Daya Dan shelter tied by
their ankles to their cots at night, restrained while being fed
and left for up to 20 minutes on the toilet by their carers.

In a statement, Five News said it began investigating the
home after hearing complaints from international aid workers.

The global order of nuns said on Sunday its charitable
homes only tied children when absolutely necessary.

“Physical restraints are used only when absolutely
necessary for the safety of the child … for limited periods
of time,” a Missionaries of Charity statement faxed to Reuters
said.

“We value constructive criticism and admit that there is
always room for improvement.”

A spokeswoman for the order, Sister Christie, told Reuters
by phone from Calcutta: “It (the tying) happens only when we
see the child could be hurt. It’s about their safety.

“The children are sometimes tied because they keep waving
their hands and moving when being fed. Also they could fall off
(the cots) while sleeping at night.”

Five News reporter Donal MacIntyre said: “I was truly
shocked by what I found at the Daya Dan center. There are
strategies for looking after disabled children that minimise
stressful situations, and, as a result of poor training and
lack of resources, staff are resorting to inhumane practices
such as tying children up.”

Five News said: “The shocking footage reveals that despite
receiving millions of pounds in donations every year, there is
little evidence of its investment at the centers Donal
visited.”

Daya Dan was set up in 1998, a year after the death of
Mother Teresa, who adopted Calcutta as the center of her global
charitable order that now runs more than 750 centers across the
world.

The Missionaries of Charity, famous for working among the
sick, destitute and dying, said it was committed to serving the
ideals of Mother Teresa and improving the quality of care in
Daya Dan.

Nobel Peace Prize winner Mother Teresa, who founded the
order in 1950 in Calcutta, died in 1997 at the age of 87.

(Additional reporting by Kamil Zaheer)




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