I read about this on the BBC website this weekend. I don't quite understand it though -- not all the kids seemed to be orphans. How or why did their parents let their kids be shipped away like that? And today, I saw that there were kids sent to Canada and New Zealand too.
I found a bit more information on the BBC website because Australia's Prime Minister made a public apology.
It said that many of the children, often from broken homes, were already in state care or were being cared for by charitable institutions. They did say though that kids as young as 3 were deported! And that parents were not always told that their children were being sent away.
There was also the aspect of "good British stock" being sent to populate the colonies. After all, until 1957 Australia had a "Keep Australia White" immigration policy. Most of the deportees went between 1930 and the war, although several thousand were sent after the war, mostly to Australia.
This sort of thing has gone on for thousands of years and is still going on in this century, although it is isn't organized by government agencies anymore. My Chinese colleague always used to talk about how one of her brothers was sold by her parents, because the family was poor and needed the cash.
Even without payment, the removal of one's children takes a burden off a lot of people who perhaps should not have had children in the first place.
The destination of the children is another matter.
Deyana, it is odd that you hadn't heard of this story, as the same migration program operated on a large scale towards Canada, the so-called Home Children.
Of course not all of them suffered abuse in the sense of beatings or sexual abuse, but many if not most were neglected, deprived of affection and used as cheap labour.
A filmmaker I know in Saskatchewan is trying to obtain funding for a documentary about the Home Children, as her father was one. He turned out ok.
Few of the chldren were actually orphans, and not all were the children of unmarried teenaged girls. Times were very tough not only during the Depression but also during the War and the postwar years, and as kerouac says contraception was not as readily available, effective or socially acceptable, even in the case of married couples.
Not just Catholics. All the major religious denominations, including Anglican and those that later joined together in the United Church.
I think there has always been a lot of disposing of unwanted progeny in international migration, and it contininues to this day.
It hasn't always been as organised by central authorities, as kerouac said. I interviewed old Italian guys who arrived here as young teens and were put to very hard work logging or working on the railway. Their half-starved peasant families couldn't feed all the children, and even if little Luigi couldn't send much home to Babbo e Mamma, at least they didn't have to feed him - damn those teenagers, why do they have to eat so much!
But telling these stories will hopefully lead to more enlightened policies - and perhaps fewer unwanted or (economically) surplus children in the firest place. Actually, with greater education for mothers (see story posted by bixa, part of a whole series the NYTimes is doing) the birthrate has fallen dramatically in most countries.
It's ironic really that now it's thought that not enough children are being born here in Canada. Will there be enough people to support the economy in years to come? My guess is yes, as long as immigration laws are not tighten up.
Lagatta, at one time I lived in the Italian area of St. Leonard, just outside of central Montreal. It was a nice neighborhood, I thought. Seemed most were quite well off there too, I can only imagine that came with time and a lot of hard work. Although someone told me, the ones with the Lamborghini's parked in their front yard probably had Mafia connections.
Yes, the word Mafia is often generically used for criminal organisations now. In many countries, strangely, just for the supposedly "white" ones, like the Russians and other Northeastern Slavs. Historically, the Mafia was a criminal organisation with roots in Sicily. (Sicilians look more like Tunisians than those blondy pink-skinned white guys)...
Other criminal organisations with Italian roots are the Camorra, in Naples and surrounding Campania, and the 'Ndrangheta in Calabria, the toe of the Italian boot. Of course there are no big, historically important cities in Calabria like Palermo and Naples, but the 'Ndrangheta are known for their nasty habits of kidnapping people and sometimes cutting off an ear...
Originally, these groups were what was called "social bandits" or "brigands" and combined a sort of vague defence of the poor - Italian unity was often at the expense of local peasants - with outright criminal behaviour. Nothing specifically Southern Italian about that. Plenty such tales from the southern US to Mexico (hi, bixa!) to south Asia (hi, Deyana!) across the Ukranian plains and well, just about everywhere on earth.
There were many courageous Sicilians who fought the Mafia including the judges Giovanni Falcone and Paolo Borsellino, whom they murdered. There are citizen groups against the Mafia. It is not remembered so much that the Mafia conducted a terrorist campaign against unrelated people in mainland Italy
Corsica is of course another Mediterranean island and the history of their so-called Mafia is somewhat similar.
Nothing specifically Southern Italian about that. Plenty such tales from the southern US to Mexico (hi, bixa!) to south Asia (hi, Deyana!) across the Ukranian plains and well, just about everywhere on earth.
Here in the United States, we had the "Orphan Trains". Not all those children were orphaned, either, in fact most had at least one parent living. The idea was to take them from poverty in Eastern cities and give them good homes in the west where they might work on the farms and have a better life. I read a book about them as a kid in school where one was a young man who got into trouble with the law stealing trying to help his very poor immigrant family survive after they were abandoned by their father. The judge in his case was influenced by the Aid society to give him the choice of the orphan train or an adult prison and a very severe sentence. Many were taken by families to be used as slave labor and were abused, as was this young man initially.