| File picture of a nun praying
London/Calcutta, July 31: A care centre of Mother Teresa’s Missionaries of Charity in Calcutta has been sucked into a controversy with a British TV channel claiming to have filmed a programme where disabled children are seen physically restrained.
The charity said the case of restraining a disabled child by “loosely tying a cloth around his ankle or hands” had been greatly exaggerated.
Journalist Donal MacIntyre said he had filmed undercover at Daya Dan, at Nimtala in north Calcutta, after being tipped off by two volunteers.
He counted 59 children who were, in his opinion, subjected to unacceptable behaviour, including being restrained by their feet at night.
MacIntyre said: “That is unacceptable in Russia, that is unacceptable in Romania, that is unacceptable in England 'and it is unacceptable in Calcutta.”
His expose will be shown tomorrow in the UK on News Five and then broadcast worldwide on Sky News.
“It does sound awful when you read or hear something like this, but we would never do such a thing at all for no specific reason,” said Sister Paula Marie, who runs the centre set up in 1998, a year after Mother Teresa died.
MacIntyre said the Missionaries of Charity received “millions and millions of pounds” in donation. “They must do better.”
He said he was not out to undermine the reputation of Mother Teresa. “She is a demi-god. I am a Catholic and I am Irish and I am an ambassador for Mencap (the charity for the learning disabled).”
The children he filmed secretly for about a week a fortnight ago are aged six months to 12 years.
Among practices MacIntyre said he found distressing were the “insensitive handling” by carers both at bathing and feeding times.
Sister Marie explained: “There are cases where a child has been found putting food into the eyes, face and mouth with both hands, leaving the care-givers with no alternative but to tie his/her hands with a piece of cloth for the time the child is being fed.”
She added: “What people don’t perhaps realise is the great difficulty in feeding a child when she is bent on hurting herself.”