Saturday, August 04, 2018

Maintain Hope targeted in Facebook smear campaign

The Maintain Hope charity founded by local man Gerry O'Donoghue in Kenya has become the target of a derogatory social media smear campaign, because it reported child trafficking by 'orphanage recruitment' to the Kenyan authorities, writes Brian Byrne.

This reporting resulted in threats to Maintain Hope workers and their community volunteers in the Ngong orphanage it supports, and the charity had to get restraining orders from the courts against the 'main players'.

Maintain Hope are pioneers in the Ngong area for reuniting children with their parents, and the traffickers 'have not reacted well', according to a message posted on the charity's Facebook page.

The social media hate campaign flared up after the charity posted a video of some of the 'players' transferring food bought by Maintain Hope for children in its own orphanage in Ngong to 'another location'.

Maintain Hope is asking those who are its 'friends' on Facebook to beware of posts and friend requests from strangers who don’t seem to have any profile. "Rufas Thomas is one, Chris somebody is another. They are now using social media to try to discredit our efforts. They are trawling through 'likes' and comments to trace friends."

News of the campaign has brought a flood of solidarity messages from people in Kilcullen and the surrounding area who are long-time supporters of the charity.

According to the 2018 Trafficking in Persons Report published by the US State Department, modern slavery practices include the recruitment of children into 'orphanages' in order to attract donations, or to be used as forced labour. Several such institutions have also been found to be brothels for sex slavery.

Up to 90pc of the eight million children around the world living in institutions are believed to have at least one living parent. The report describes how some children are recruited into institutions by promising their parents education, food security, safety, and healthcare for their children.

Instead, in documented cases, such 'orphanages' have also kept children in poor health to elicit more sympathy and money from donors.

The 'orphanage recruitment' mode of child trafficking has been reported in Africa, eastern Europe, China, Nepal, Cambodia, Haiti, and in Central America.

This year both the US and Australia updated their guidelines to include Orphanage Recruitment as part of human trafficking.

Kilcullen Diary Policy on Photographs. Kilcullen Diary Privacy Policy.