Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Ministry of Manpower idiots arrest volunteers at schools for disabled children

An anonymous author on Oman Forum yesterday posted a report that the infamously stupid Ministry of Manpower (aka Ministry of Labour) raided several schools caring for special needs children and arrested several volunteers, confiscating their IDs and passports.

The cases are apparently going in front of the Public Prosecutor this week. Here's the report:

On Monday the 13th of December the Ministry of Labour came into our special education center in and took into custody all of our volunteers and seized both their passports and ID cards.(those that didn’t have the passports with them, were seized and taken to the ministry, they were not able to be released without someone from their family turning over their passports)

They are there as volunteers not workers (they are not taking any salary) and all proper paperwork was filled out; Volunteer forms, a letter from them stating that they would like to volunteer and they understood this means no salary, and copies of their passport, ID and CV. The Ministry is refusing to give back the ID cards and are threatening to deport the volunteers

Firstly, The Ministry of Social Development knows we have been running under Ministry of Commerce since 2007, the royal decree that came in to play about centers with handicapped children came in 2008 (the Royal Degree stated that all handicapped centers must be under Ministry of Social Development). The Ministry on Social development has allowed us to continue to operate until all of our paperwork is completed, which should be sometime within the next few weeks.

Secondly, all the ladies are VOLUNTEERS, they are not taking salaries and according to what our lawyer has said this is legal (there is no stated rule about volunteering in Oman). This was the third time they had come in, the first two times the inspectors had said we were on the legal side.

Furthermore, in seizing both the ID cards and passports of these ladies is wrong, now they have no documents.

We were not the only center targeted... two other special education centers were also targeted and their volunteers also taken. All three centers have been turned over to public prosecutor. Can anyone help these three centers?

All of these volunteers in all three centers are just helping children. They take time from there time to come and play and help the kids, they were doing nothing wrong or illegal.javascript:void(0)

There was an article on Nov 26th in the hi magazine, urging people to volunteer... but then the ministry of labour goes to special education center and arrests volunteers??


Yes, the Ministry of Manpower's thugs at work. According to my sources, the report is, unfortunately, quite true and accurate.



Not content with hounding powerless underpaid housemaids from India and elsewhere, they are now targeting expats who volunteer to help Oman's disadvantaged special needs children. You know, the kids who are so well regarded by most of Omani society that they are simply left to under-funded charities to take care of, or abandoned in orphanages.

I guess taking payments to clear illicit visa requests while ignoring the thousands of blatant violations of labour law visible on building sites all over Oman still leaves plenty of time for such bullying. After all, it's not as if these morons from the Ministry could actually get a real job anyhow.

Cowards.

I can only hope the judge will bawl them out for not only doing something so obviously counter-productive to Omani society, but for wasting his time too, as volunteering is not illegal, even if you are recompensed for expenses.

Happy Holidays indeed.

37 comments:

  1. Isn't it curious that the general reaction around the place is not one of surprise...?

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  2. FT
    Well spotted! MoM are rapidly becoming Oman's own special non-religious version of the Saudi Muttawa... Authority without accountability, corrupt yet sanctimonious, combined with an absence of any common sense whatsoever.

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  3. In Salalah a volunteer was arrested at the Centre for Children with Special Abilities and needs because she presented herself as an autism expert with fake qualifications. And another was arrested because evidently she was hitting the kids with autism to keep them quiet (you just CAN'T be violent with autistic kids!). Both expats.

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  4. That is just ridiculous - I'm very keen to hear the follow up to this... but if it doesn't go before the courts today, it wont until at least the 1st of Jan as all government have the entire week off next week.

    Any idea what nationality the volunteers are from? Embassies getting involved?

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  5. The way of the camelDecember 22, 2010 at 9:49 AM

    Ah, Nadia... I guess you've posted this as an excuse for the MOM's outrageous behaviour?

    Yes, let's lump all the volunteers in together, the good and the very rare bad, round them up, prosecute then deport them all, just in case they're doing something wrong.

    And let's do it at Christmas time and just before a major public service holiday to ensure the greatest inconvenience possible to those who donate their time and love to children otherwise abandoned by their own society and often their own families...

    That will certainly help the children and the centres that struggle to care for them, won't it?

    A special note regarding your comment about the volunteer who was allegedly hitting the "kids with Autism"... If you ask around, you'll find it's considered wrong to be violent with any children.

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  6. AS an expat you are damned if you do and damned if you don't. There are loads of wives here qualified upto the eyeballs, who have so much to offer, but we don't for this exact reason.

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  7. This is a 'CLASSIC' example of how a country is being degraded by its own people. Look at the message theyre giving out!
    Pity pity..
    (i am not generalising here, but going by your reports and the information i have, they need to have more educated people hold top positions..)

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  8. Hold your horses, 'As the Camel Said',

    I was not justifying the Ministry's actions. I was merely adding info from this end of the country :)

    Chill, will ya?

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  9. I was there. One of the staff for ministry of manpower pushed an autistic child against the reception table.

    Our manager was really upset at the actions of the ministry. The director is married to an Omani and they took her documents as well. And they shouldnt becuz her kids and husband are Omani.

    The treated us in a very bad way and put us on a bus that was a cage. it was like a jail on wheels. All of the ladies are house wives. One of the volunteers is a lawyer and she told them that it was illegal to take the passports. And they told her to shut up.

    We are all volunteers and we come to help these kids with our heart. I work with some of the autistic kids and i am qualified. I have Montessori training. but i just wanted to volunteer at this center to help the kids. Madaam looked for Omani volunteers too... but she couldnt find. Since she helps a lot of poor Omani families, she need volunteers.

    The ministry was really bad to us. They sent 8 people from the ministry and around 10 police officers. A big police bus and a smaller police bus. Like we were a drug house or something.
    A teacher volunteer

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  10. Looks like the MoM thugs are competing with their counterparts in Saudi !!!
    I hope the govt spends the country's resources on something more useful to the society.
    I can understand them trying to round up the poor maids - the guys in the lower rungs apparently get rewards in "kind" for not arresting someone, guys at the top get rewarded by slave traders (companies supplying labour for cleaning etc) for their services, but this is going too far.
    Hope the minister gets kicked out before his ministry does too much damage.

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  11. ... Nadia, I'm curious why you are reacting in this way. Usually you protest very strongly against injustice. Is it because you feel Omanis should be taking care of these kids in stead of foreigners?

    Someone I know tried to assist in a ward/ one of these places in but was turned away because they said they didn't want any non-Omani "seeing" these kids (probably more like: "seeing the situation these kids are in")
    What is the reason why I've only seen 1 handicapped child in Salalah in the 2 years I've been here? As far as I understand there are many handicapped children due to marrying within tribes. Are Omanis really so embarassed to "show" there not-so-fortunate children to their family, friends & neighbors? ....

    I feel very sorry for these poor kids. They can't help they were born that way...

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  12. Ridiculous! Hopefully commonsense will prevail and the courts will adjudicate in the volunteers favor. Alas commonsense is a rare commodity in Oman.

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  13. Mike who doesnt have an accountDecember 22, 2010 at 7:22 PM

    I'm not defending the implication of the "Both Expats" comment from Nadia, which I think was unhelpful and plain wrong (so expats have the monopoly on mistreating kids or lying about qualifications huh? I think not).

    Underlying her comment, though is a very important point, which implies that there isn't a checking/vetting process for those looking after children, as there would be in most countries. It's not apparent from the quoted post if this is happening here. I hope it is, for expat or Omani, volunteer or paid staff.

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  14. There is supposed to be a checking process at least for documentation.

    The persons CV and certificates go to the ministry for pre-approval. After the pre-approval they must go to their embassy to get the documents stamped and attested.

    If a teacher beats or abuses a child, the school can ask for a banning order, which will ban the teacher from ever teaching in Oman.

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  15. that was such an idiotic thing to do.


    Oh my poor children!!

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  16. This is so sad - it's only been in the last few years that the 'orphans' have had a place to call their own albeit not a great one. Nadia - go and check the care in these places. I think your eyes will open wide.

    It's also only recently that I've begun to see disabled people out and about because families normally hide them away.

    The great shame in all this is that the authorities should be spending oil money in setting up professionally staffed places to allow these children to reach their full potential. Instead, the centres are charities and are dependent on voluntary contributions.

    The MOM should be disbanded and staffed with trained personnel. The raids have targeted the poor and defenceless and have ignored the immorality of the sponsors in selling visas to third world nationals. Most of these sponsors have wasta, are ROP and (I suspect) MOM employees.

    Disgraceful for a country that prides itself as being hospitality.

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  17. Postscript:

    I'm not making this up. Just 3 days after the above edu-fascist incident, Oman LLC is pumping out the bullshit below about how fantastic they are by making yet another law that won't be properly enforced:

    Khaleej Tims:
    "Oman child law to be 
promulgated soon

    23 December 2010 MUSCAT — Oman has made considerable headway in protecting rights of children, a senior official said, also revealing that a ‘Child Law’ would be promulgated soon.
    Dr Yahya al Ma’awali, Under-secretary at the Social Development Ministry, said efforts were under way to reinforce children’s rights in the areas of education, health and social care.

    He noted that 99 per cent of the country’s children were now covered by the general or basic education system and school curricula had been prepared to ensure that children were fully aware of their rights. Ma’awali was speaking at the Fourth Arab Child Rights Conference that concluded in Marrakesh, Morocco, on Tuesday. He said a Child Law was now being given the final shape in Oman and would be issued shortly. He also said the sultanate’s health care system encompassed nearly 100 per cent of mothers and children.

    Specialised teams had been formed to follow-up cases of abused children, while a hot line had been set up to guide families in all matters related to child care, he added. Ma’awali said Oman encouraged all community child welfare efforts, especially rehabilitation programmes."


    Oh yes, its all just dandy in Oman for special needs kids... You've just gotta laugh.

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  18. Cart before horse - the birth of a child doesn't have to be registered in Oman.

    www.yapi.org/stateless/

    I wonder what happens to these children (especially if they are orphans with no family name) when they reach adulthood?

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  19. That is BULL... there is no safe haven for children that have been sexually, emotionally or physically abused in Oman. I know! I have worked with these children in Omani schools.

    School is the place where they feel safe. I have had children cry that they do not want to come home.

    I had a child that failed a test and came back to school the next day with belt marks all over his body and a black eye.. and the school (muscat private)) said they couldnt do anything because there was no law in Oman to protect children from child abuse.

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  20. We all know what process you have to go through in the west if you want to work with kids,paid or not paid.The ministry was just doing its job.
    I dont see why everyone is attacking Nadia because what she is saying is true.The blame is with the center who didnt register the people,would any of you let someone work in your house without doing any back ground check or knowing who her agent is? Would you take someone from the street to look after your kids? Its a big NO, so why should it be any different with these centers? I bet all this noise is because they were western expats.

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  21. anonymous said...
    I was there. One of the staff for ministry of manpower pushed an autistic child against the reception table.


    If you're referring to the centre I think you are - then thank god this has happened and hopefully it will be the first step in getting the place closed down.

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  22. And so many comments from people who think they so much about the life of special needs children Oman.

    And as the mother of a special needs child in Oman - jeez thanks for telling me how it is. I would never have known otherwise. My god you are all such experts.

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  23. I knew from the start that it was kawthar's school. If only people knew more about that center.Now i really support what the ministry people did.The gorverment is going to shut that good for nothing fake center soon.

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  24. OMR

    Read the article before you make nasty comments - the volunteers were registered.

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  25. I think the main point to be made here is that, if a centre is not satisfactory, the Ministry should close it through the accepted procedures.

    Arresting volunteers is never acceptable.

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  26. Hi folks, please visit:

    http://middleeast-analysis.blogspot.com/

    The first post is dedicated to India's relations with Oman.

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  27. Nadia, I'm pretty sure I have read somewhere that kids with autism LIKE to be handled roughly ?

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  28. Blewyn - I hope not too many people read what you read re children with autism liking to be handled roughly.

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  29. Hi Blewyn

    Autism is a complex condition and treatment is individual. Many autistic children would find physical contact threatening or overwhelming. Maintaining eye contact is more important.

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  30. Wow, I was wondering why some friends of mine were so fearful to participate in a project that I started while living in Oman...now I see why. Volunteers get arrested.

    I don't know if these volunteers were really registered the proper way or not. I DO know that there was one center I almost volunteered with that would have let me volunteer without any background check and this made me question their validity and caused me to not volunteer. So, I know that 2 years ago it did happen that anyone could volunteer at some of these special needs schools. Whether it is like that today or not I am unable to substantiate.

    Arresting people who volunteer and confiscating passports is NOT legal though. That I know for certain.

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  31. Blewyn - physical contact for many autistic spectrum people is very mentally (and therefore physically) uncomfortable and masochism is not an autistic spectrum trait

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  32. Bottom line is, you can't be violent with any kids, let alone children with mental disabilities like autism. You just can't.

    And I believe volunteers who are harming the kids should be stopped from working at such places.

    HOWEVER, I don't agree with the Ministry's actions or for the matter any of the "hush-hush let's arrest 1000 people overnight kind of mentality that the government is fond of". The government should be providing full-time (and fully paid) qualified specialists to work at these centres. At the moment, Bahwan sponsors most of them and other local charities. The centres in Salalah get almost no funding because they have no wasta. The government should (and can) do more for people with special abilities and needs.

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  33. A volunteer/teacher cannot be violent with any of the kids, irrespective of his/her(teacher's) nationality.

    Volunteers always have good intention. Why will you do something for which you are not paid? That means they love their job.
    Do people know that volunteering is not allowed? Every nation's rule must be respected. But that can be done only when the volunteers know about that rule. I feel this is a communciation problem.

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  34. Being a volunteer myself in a centre for children with special needs in Oman, I was surprised to read the article. Actions like this should be condemned fiercely, but talking about ‘idiots’ and ‘morons’ doesn’t serve the cause.
    Strong protests by the centre and volunteers to the ministers involved are the first step to take, beside clarification by the embassies.
    I work with children with special needs in Oman for 4 years now and I did the same kind of work here 23 years ago, and as a professional in this field I can say that immense steps have been taken and I do see improvements yearly. At the same time there are many steps still to be made, having professional and well-paid staff being one of them.
    I met a lot of families of these children and I can generally say that most of them are loving and caring. In Europe it took at least 100 years to establish a well developed system for people with special needs, Oman is only 40 years on its way.
    Mara

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  35. I dont know whats the truth here and reading this post has made me apprehensive of d fact that I could be arrested for trying to do something noble. The main problem i sense here is a lack of clear and concise comunication. On one hand, the arrests were not justified. Whereas it also is a matter of concern if anyone is verifying whether the people volunteering are capable enough to perform what they hav set out to do. Physical assault on any child is unacceptable. But honestly how many of us have not got a good thrashing from our parents in our childhood. Hardly anyone!! So just by singling out one incident and viewing it from an external point of view, will not help us know about the reality at the groud level. The main point that should be addressed here is how to make more people aware about the rules n regulations involved in volunteering.

    PS - I am yet to read a post where the 'Local vs Expat' bashing isnt there even in d smallest of degrees. All ye educated people, Grow up!!

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  36. Its quite sadenning to know that such an incident has taken place. I was planning on visiting the Orphanage at Khuwair next week and I have been trying to get in touch with the Autism center at Athaiba so that I could do something worthwhile by volunteering for them. However I am a bit apprehensive now. Although I am disappointed with what happened, I cant take sides here. My point is ppl who want to do some good work shudnt be stopped from doing so whereas I also believe that these kids shouldnt be exposed to someone without doing a proper background check. So m on d neutral tides here i guess!!
    But the things that annoys me the most is that NO information whatsoever is published on the internet regarding the procedures involved in being able to volunteer. I have been looking out for places where I can contribute my bit to the society for many weeks now and have hardly got any substantial info on it. This to me is d reason for such incidents.

    PS - I am yet to read a blog or the comments thereafter without the usual 'Local vs Expat bashin'. These issues are more important than diversifying ourselves based on the color of our skins.

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