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By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

7/16/2014 (9 months ago)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Our Lady of Fatima School in Rivona says it will not bow to public pressure

Refusing to bow to public pressure, a Catholic school in Goa, India says it will not remove 23 students from an orphanage that caters mainly to HIV positive children. "We are caught in a situation where we have to follow the rules, and at the same time are concerned about our students and their parents," Father Jerry Vaz, headmaster of Our Lady of Fatima School in Rivona, south Goa says. "However, we have decided that we will not expel these 23 students."

The headmaster of Our Lady of Fatima School in Rivona, south Goa says he will not expel HIV-positive students.

The headmaster of Our Lady of Fatima School in Rivona, south Goa says he will not expel HIV-positive students.

Highlights

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

7/16/2014 (9 months ago)

Published in Asia Pacific

Keywords: Orpahns, India, HIV-spositive, parental protests


LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - The school managed by the Archdiocese of Goa last week removed 13 children afflicted with the much dreaded and misunderstood disease under threats from parents of other students. All the expelled children came from an orphanage, Abode of Perpetual Service.

Emboldened by their initial success, the parents and the "healthy" students began pressing the school to remove 23 other orphans even after it was confirmed they are HIV negative.

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Officials tried "our best to allay their fears and explain that there is no risk to their wards," Father Maverick Fernandes of the Archdiocesan Board of Education says. "We also explained that in light of the recent Supreme Court order, students cannot be expelled on this ground. However, the 13 students had to be shifted to another school."

Sister Alphonsa Porathur, in charge of the church-run Nitya Seva Niketan told newspaper reporters that although the HIV-positive children were enrolled last year, they did not attend classes. "We conducted their classes at the children's home itself. They only appeared for the school exams and got their mark sheets from the school," she said.

Following their expulsion, Sister Porathur approached a boarding school run by Salesian priests in Sulcorna, near Rivona last month. But after six days, this school too asked her to withdraw the children, saying they were facing problems from some parents.

"We then discussed the matter with our Church and decided to shift the 13 children to a school in North Goa. We decided not to disclose the name of the school. The remaining 23 non-HIV students remained at Our Lady of Fatima High School, which is just 300 meters from our children's home," Sister Porathur said.

However, when these children started attending classes, parents of the other students protested. They demanded that these children be expelled as well, claiming that they could put their wards at risk. The parents of four students even sought to withdraw their students.

"I am taking up the issue in the Assembly as this incident should not become a precedent for other schools in the state and even in other states," Subhash Phal Dessai, who represents the area in the state legislature says.

"The parents want us to give in writing that their children will not be HIV-positive in future. It is an unreasonable demand," he added.

In the meantime, government agencies have decided to provide counseling to the opposing parents to remove their apprehensions over HIV.

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