US lawmaker to write to Rajnath Singh over curbs on NGO
Sources said that this will be a last-ditch effort to save Compassion International, which has announced its exit from the country on March 15 as a result of the funding curbs.US Congressman Ed Royce is planning to write to Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh over India’s order stopping Compassion International (CI) from accepting foreign donations, American government sources told The Indian Express on Friday. He is likely to urge Singh to grant temporary reprieve on the order so that the charity may re-establish its work in India.
Royce did not respond to The Indian Express. But sources said that this will be a last-ditch effort to save CI, which has announced its exit from the country on March 15 as a result of the funding curbs. Royce’s intervention is expected in a couple of days. The CI has already started lobbying with American lawmakers to sign a petition to be sent to Singh.
Earlier this month, CI CEO Santiago Jimmy Mellado had written to the charity’s sponsors, informing them that the Indian government had begun blocking funds from reaching their field offices and church partners. “Without those funds, we can no longer pay our staff or provide resources to our church partners and the children they serve,’’ he wrote. He added that they have tried everything within their power to resolve the issue but the efforts have not resolved the matter. “As we navigate this difficult moment in Compassion’s history, I am flooded with emotions. I am heartbroken for sure, over the 147,000 babies, children, young adults and mothers who will no longer receive the benefits of Compassion’s program.’’
Mellado wrote that he was distraught over the partnerships with 589 churches that will come to an end. “I am concerned for our 127 staff members who have committed their careers to helping the poorest of the poor in their own communities.’’ Mellado added that he continued to have great hope for India. “I have hope because I know that, even after Compassion has left, those 589 Indian churches that are passionate about caring for children will still be there,’’ he wrote. “They will continue to do what they can to serve families throughout their country.’’ He noted that the CI’s model has been to lift up the local church so she can better serve her own community. “We trust those churches grew stronger through years of partnering with Compassion, and they will take that strength and grow it to meet the unique needs of the communities they serve.”
Mellado insisted that they have not broken Indian laws. “We have been and remain committed to abiding by the laws of every country where we serve. You may have seen reports from Indian media accusing Compassion of forcing children to convert to Christianity in order to receive the benefits of our program,’’ he said. “That, of course, is simply not true.’’
Mellado said that they partner with local Christian churches to extend the love of Jesus in very tangible ways, but never required a child to convert to Christianity to benefit from their program. “To do so would violate the dignity, freedom and grace that Jesus so freely gives each of us. Our church partners deliver Compassion’s holistic child development program to children in need regardless of race, religion, caste or creed.”
CI officials have insisted that the Colorado-based charity is a faith-based child sponsorship NGO, which serves nearly two million children living in extreme poverty across 26 countries. In February 2016, the government issued an order preventing funds from reaching local church partners of CI, which has operated in India since 1968. “These restrictions appear to be religiously motivated,’’ said the official.