Tours of Highland orphanage made children feel like ‘monkeys in a zoo’

Sun, Nov 5, 2017

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Tourists would pay to visit the Aberlour orphanage, it has been revealed
Former children’s officer Katharine Mackenzie revealed that busloads of tourists would pay to visit the Aberlour orphanage when she gave evidence to the historic abuse inquiry last week.She said: “One boy said to me, they locked us in the gym and they walked along the corridor, where there was a window into the gym, and looked at us, and they treated us like animals at the zoo, so we all pretended to be monkeys.”Abuse survivors say the tours are an example of how children were treated as “commodities” and used for financial gain, entertainment, sexual gratification or medical experimentation.Mrs Mackenzie was invited to give evidence to the inquiry after writing a letter to chairwoman Lady Smith about her experiences in the 1950s and 1960s.

Every time a tour came all the naughty boys were locked in the gym in case they upset people.  Katharine Mackenzie – Former children’s officer

Yesterday, speaking at her home in Edinburgh, the 93-year-old said: “Many of the Highland tour buses stopped at the orphanage.  They were curious about how orphanages were run, I suppose. It was pretty awful, this huge orphanage with hundreds of children in the middle of a tiny Highland village. Every time a tour came all the naughty boys were locked in the gym in case they upset people. I think the boys reacted very sensibly by pretending to be monkeys.  Of course it was wrong but I didn’t run the orphanage, although I helped to have it closed down in the end.”

Katharine Mackenzie

Former children’s officer Katharine Mackenzie gave evidence to the historic abuse inquiry

At the end of each visit, the day-trippers were expected to make a donation into a collection box held by one of the orphans before they got back on the bus. Mrs Mackenzie added: “As far as I knew, the children were all looked after except there were too many of them and they didn’t get enough individual attention in a big place like that.”The Speyside orphanage was founded in 1875 as a home for “mitherless bairns” and grew to become the second largest in Scotland, housing as many as 500 children in the postwar years.It closed in 1967 after concerns were raised by Mrs Mackenzie and others and the charity became Aberlour Child Care Trust, which is still one of the country’s biggest childcare providers.The trust has compiled an internal report highlighting 12 complaints of abuse, seven involving excessive force used in punishments and five involving sexual abuse or indecency.

Earlier this year, chief executive SallyAnn(corr) Kelly apologised at the inquiry but insisted it was not a case of “systemic failure” but rather “a failure in the behaviour of human beings”.
Helen Holland from the In Care Abuse Survivors (Incas) group described the bus tours as “utterly repugnant” and added: “It is totally wrong in every sense of the word to use any child as a commodity.  That’s what people haven’t really grasped yet, how children in care were used as commodities, whether that was for financial gain, for entertainment or for sexual gratification.”
Ms Holland, who was physically and sexually abused as a child in Nazareth House orphanage in Kilmarnock, Ayrshire, said she was “absolutely sure” the Aberlour boys would’ve been punished for disrupting the tours.
She said: “We never had tours come around but we would have to entertain the nuns and visiting dignitaries by putting on plays and shows. If it wasn’t up to scratch you would be beaten afterwards for not doing things properly. I remember one Christmas I started singing the wrong version of While Shepherds Watched Their Flocks and I just froze because I knew I was going to get battered for it. I was beaten with a stick later that night because I had shown them up. It was the same with the Scottish country dancing, where you terrified in case you stood on one of the swords and were punished for it.” 
Alan Draper, the Incas parliamentary liaison officer, added:  “These children were being treated as exhibits for the benefit of the organisation. It’s appalling but it wasn’t uncommon practice back in those days and the authorities simply turned a blind eye or didn’t care.”   http://www.express.co.uk/news/uk/875570/historic-abuse-inquiry-highland-aberlour-orphanage-tours  http://archive.is/dIkQE 
Orphans ‘treated like zoo animals’ as witness tells child abuse probe …  http://www.dailyrecord.co.uk/news/scottish-news/orphans-treated-like-zoo-animals-11467984


 

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PDF National Confidential Forum for Adult Survivors of Childhood Abuse – CelcisChildhood in Question: Children, Parents and the Statehttp://www.scotsman.com/giving-back/charities/the-oldest-charities-in-scotland-then-and-now-1-4019691    http://archive.is/23WwN 

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To an observer, the bare facts of David Divine’s life — abandoned as a baby, raised in an orphanage, rising to the top of his profession, surviving a near-fatal car crash that left him unable to walk, read and write, years spent in rehabilitation, and finally embarking on a new chapter — seem too much to contain in one life.

Gradually he pieced together the story of his childhood. After his birth in Scotland in 1953, he learned that he had been abandoned at three months and left to be raised in an orphanage. Racism was rife at the time and his parents were ill-equipped to care for him. His mother was a poor, white single mother and his father was a black man in the United States Air Force stationed in Scotland.

Divine spent his childhood in Scotland’s Aberlour Orphanage and later with a foster family in a small Scottish mining town. Despite the challenging circumstances of his early childhood, he went on to university and completed his social sciences degree at Edinburgh University. From there he embarked on a successful career in social work. That work eventually lead him to become Dalhousie’s James Robinson Johnston chair in black Canadian studies in 2004.  EXTRACTS, READ IN FULL  http://thechronicleherald.ca/artslife/1449444-the-divine-gift-%E2%80%93-a-life-recovered     http://archive.is/G2ZpQ 

 

 

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