By Ranee Mohamed
We have heard that a mother’s love
knows no bounds; but we have never heard about the love of a
daughter. That is till the story of 22 year Ganga flows all
the way from Holland to Sri Lanka. Today she is 22 years old.
She is not called Ganga anymore. She is Fardan Huisman from
Holland, studying to be a teacher in that country.
"But I cannot concentrate on
anything. I cannot be happy for I spend my time crying,"
she said ,wiping the tears. Seated amidst all the laughter and
happiness in the lobby of the Blue Oceanic Hotel in Negombo
this young and beautiful girl from Sri Lanka is desperate to
find her Sri Lankan mother.
Seated by her side is her boyfriend
Marco Otten, 32, an engineer from Holland who is as anxious
and eager as she is to find the Sri Lankan woman who gave
birth to the woman he loves most in his life. But their search
has proved futile as they have been led all over the country,
to the most remotest places to find the woman who was
desperate enough to give her child away.
"In my heart I will always be a
Sri Lankan. But knowing Holland, my family there, the people
and the country, I am torn between two loves," said
Fardan. There is nothing about her that shows that she is not
Sri Lankan. But unable to speak Sinhalese, she requires a
guide to search for the woman who bore her into this world.
Investigations revealed that Fardan
was one of many children who were ‘sold’ to foreign
couples in search of babies to adopt. In the 1980s the
notorious ‘baby farms’ grew in number but few were
discovered by the authorities. Several major baby farms
flourished in hidden places in that era.
However, many of these children are
now coming back in search of their parents. Studies have
revealed that the daughters have a greater need and urgency to
search for their biological mothers.
The baby farms then received much
publicity in the newspapers. These farms were very
complicated, with pregnant women being housed and taken care
of till they gave birth. Thereafter their babies were taken
away and sold to foreigners for exorbitant amounts and few of
them had access to the foreigners for thereafter it became a
business deal between the ‘madam’ who ran the farm and the
‘would-be’ parents from overseas.
Fardan’s story centers around a
woman called Soma Hettiarachchi, who conducted the ‘baby
business’ from remote areas.
"Soma Hettiarachchi conducted
the business with two madams called Dawn and Melody who were
based in Wadduwa. During that time they gave shelter to
pregnant women. The women had been kept in a closed, secret
place. The pregnant women at most times were from remote
villages. They were ‘handled’ by Hettiarachchi,"
explained tour guide S.H. Andrew Silva, who is helping parents
from Holland and other countries to find the biological
parents of the children who they have adopted.
"It is strange. They always come
back in search of their mother," said Andrew Silva and
went on to say that so far he has found several ‘biological
mothers.’ Among them are the mothers of Suvimali, born on
February 6, 1990 at the Kalubowila Hospital, Irene born on
June 29, 1986 at the Ragama Hospital, Dinesha Sandamali, born
on August 19, 1978 at the De Soysa Maternity Home, and Rammali
born on December 14, 1981 at the Castle Street Hospital. Some
of these girls were desperate to find their mothers because
they were getting married and wanted their biological mother
to be present at their wedding," explained Andrew Silva.
Fardan’s story however is a sad
one. "This is my second visit and both times I am leaving
with a heavy heart," said Fardan who is determined to not
give up the search. "I came so close to finding
her," she explained. For Fardan, her boyfriend Marco
Otten and Andrew Silva, this great search has taken them to
the areas of Amunuthanna, Bambarabotuwa, Ella, Embilipititya,
"We have put up posters
everywhere," said Fardan. According to the details given
in her birth certificate, they were able to trace Baby Nona
who according to the documents is her mother . "We found
her and I was so happy. I took her to my hotel and I kept her
in my own room for three days. I took her out for dinner, I
was the happiest…" said Fardan.
But Andrew Silva had begun to have
doubts because of the time she said she had given the baby for
adoption. "The baby was three weeks old when she was
taken away. But Baby Nona time and again came up with
different stories," explained Andrew Silva.
Fardan, wanting to be absolutely sure
that this was her own mother had taken Baby Nona for a DNA
test, to which the woman had readily agreed. But when the test
reports came, Baby Nona had been forced to come out with the
truth, that she was not the real mother of Fardan. The test
reports had clearly stated that there was no blood
relationship between Baby Nona and Fardan. Baby Nona too had
confessed that she had merely been the woman who had handed
the baby over for adoption.
Baby Nona thereafter had begun to
tell Fardan a different story. According to Baby Nona, the
baby (now Fardan) had been given to her by the madam, Soma
Hettiarachchi. "She asked me pose as the baby’s mother
and hand over the baby for adoption. That is how my name is
registered in Fardan’s documents," she had explained in
tears. When questioned as to where the baby had come from Baby
Nona had been unable to give details except for the fact that
the baby was handed over to her in Amunuthenna, in
Fardan’s plea is to help find her
biological mother. "My plea is to anyone who knows of a
lady who has given her baby away in the period of late
January, February or March. Fardan, then called Ganga, has her
birthday recorded as January 25, 1985. She was taken away from
Sri Lanka on March 5, 1985 by her ‘parents’ from Holland.
Foreign parents were required to pay a vast sum of money for
Sri Lankan babies.
Album of events
With Fardan is an album of pictures
that record the major events in her life. In it is the first
picture of her taken when she was handed over to her parents
in Holland. There is also a picture of Fardan taking her
flight to Holland, leaving her homeland for good.
"My parents told me that I began
to cry when I was handed over to them," said Fardan with
a smile. Ever since then, Fardan had no reason to cry other
than to cry for her biological mother.
My parents in Holland have showered
me with love, kindness and generosity. They have given me a
good education and made me what I am today. After they adopted
me, they got my brother. As I grew up I saw that I was
different….but they did not treat me differently at any
stage of my life said Fardan.
Fardan’s heartache cannot be put
down on paper. She has traced the home of Soma Hettiarachchi
and found that the woman is no longer alive. More devastating
was the fact that Hettiarachchi’s home was destroyed in a
"Many people have contacted me.
They are all women who have given away their babies for
adoption. They all want to know whether Fardan is their
daughter," said Andrew Silva.
As Fardan’s search continues, it
has continued to reawaken emotions and tears among poor Sri
Lankan women whom she has met in the remote villages. Each of
them have a story to tell… of a baby given away. The years
have flown by now, and as the children grew up in foreign
lands, they did here too… in the hearts and minds of these
poor women who were forced to give their babies away.
Many of them are counting the ages of
their lost infants, not knowing where they were or what they
were doing. And sadly, they too are counting the days… to
see their mothers again someday, in a land that they once
are you, mother?
Years later, their children in
Holland are looking for the following women, who they
say are their mothers. They are
Horawala Mawathage Baby Nona of
Agalawatte, , Liyanage Lalani of Horana, Kapuarachchige
Anulawathi of Hambegamuwa, Sinniah Mary, Nandani
Mahendra of Jaffna, Bachchana Handige Indrani Gunawathi
Pieris of Moratuwa, Vithanage Leelawathi of
Hanguranketha, Nagodagame Siriyawathi of Udagama,
Thambirajah Grace of Kolonnawa, Kagenesh Kumari
Thiloinathan of Peduruthuduwa, Warnakulasuriya Rajani of
Kalutara, Liyanage Janet Kanthi Perera of Colombo,
Sumanasinghalage Kamalawathi of Deniyaya and Radige Baby
Nona of Muduwanwela.