Monday, February 22, 2010

I'm Mad as @*## and I Can't Take it Anymore

May God bless you with anger at injustice, oppression, and exploitation of people, so that you may work for justice, freedom and peace.  (Franciscan Benediction)

I think I've had it.  I'm not talking about my latest troubles on the farm, as those are minor in the big picture.  I'm angry about what is happening in Haiti.  Prior to the earthquake, life in Haiti was unbearable, but there were those individuals on the ground who were doing the best they could with their resources and talents to relieve the suffering.  So many big-hearted people have spent years in Haiti, literally giving up their own comfortable, (usually) American lives to try to make a difference.  When the earthquake hit, I was stunned but thought maybe, perhaps this tragedy could be turned into something good.  Now the world's eyes were on Haiti and it would be unconscionable to look away.  What has happened, though, is that those with a lot of power have turned this into an opportunity to get even more. 

First, there was the cry by large NGOs like World Vision who said they feared child trafficking and that all adoptions should be stopped.  (I need to add that of the almost 500,000 certified orphans in Haiti, only 300 were adopted out last year.)  They also stressed that children adopted internationally lose their culture.  Unicef joined in.  (However, it is ironic that their celebrity spokesperson has herself adopted internationally; I guess different rules apply to different people.)  What they don't talk about is that Haiti's culture (especially now) is a culture of death.  Haiti cannot, repeat CANNOT, feed it's own children.  Many of these children are going to die. Period.  Lose your culture (maybe) or lose your life?  Hmmm, what would you choose?

I know I repeat myself here but child trafficking was already a serious problem in Haiti prior to the earthquake, with over 300,000 children in slavery and another 2,000 a year whisked across the Dominican border every year to become slaves.  Where was Unicef's powerful voice then?  Now, when a group of well-intentioned but misguided American missionaries try to take a group of children out of the country for a better life, with the permission of the parents, why is it suddenly headline news?

Here are a couple of blog posts that are must reads for anyone concerned about the plight of the Haitian children: 

This entry on The Livesay [Haiti] Weblog shares the story of busybodies who interferred with legal guardians taking their children out of Haiti.  As a result, these children were torn from their families and placed in a Unicef camp.  (Is this in the headlines?)  Can you imagine the trama these children are going through?

This post from God's Littlest Angels, an orphanage that has been in Haiti for 19 years, tells how Unicef is interfering with children being transferred to the orphanage from another because the orphanage had collapsed.  Dixie, the director at GLA, talks about how BRESMA (the orphanage that was prominently in the news after the earthquake) made the decision to relocate the children:

BRESMA brought 32 children to GLA to get them inside and out of the weather. The children were getting sicker and sicker. Several had been in hospital and one had even died. The older children can tolerate being outside better than the babies. To save her children, the director of BRESMA made the decision to put them in GLA for 3 months until repairs could be made to her orphanage.

Unicef, in all it's wisdom, has stepped in to tell them the transfer was illegal (as well as to meddle in other affairs at GLA).  What gives?

I'm not sure what I'm going to do about this but I know I cannot remain silent.  

P.S.  Since posting this, I read the story of a little boy, rescued by missionary friends, who would have died had it not been for their generous hearts.  Unicef and other powerful organizations are making it more difficult for these children to be rescued.


mamasong said...

That is outrageous. Makes me want to see Amos 5:24 in immediate action, "But let justice roll on like a river, righteousness like a never-failing stream!"

BelindaK said...
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BelindaK said...
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BelindaK said...

Trying it again. I have really enjoyed reading your blog today as well as that of your husband. I must disagree with your assessment of the missionaries who were arrested. They coerced those parents into giving up their kids by telling them they would die otherwise and showing them pretty pictures. Furthermore, they had no secure plan in place for the care and support of the children. There is a lot more of this story out there. Unfortunately, it has been used by the powers that be as the poster child for trafficking in order to exert more power. Their behavior has caused far reaching ripples of consequence for everyone else working with children. I believe there must be middle ground somewhere. The Haiti government appears to be using the situation to show that they still exist. It's a very difficult issue.

Cherie said...

Belinda - thanks for your comments. I do agree there is more to the arrested missonaries' story than I (or many others) probably know. They seem to have gone into it blindly, without a solid plan. Their actions do make me angry because they have set back the hard work of many well-established orphanages. The fact that they had visited an orphanage in December (which is, I believe, one of the orphanages I'm involved with - the news stories didn't have a lot of details so I'm not sure), makes me question why they didn't work with an established orphanage. I do have a hard time believing they were actually trying to "traffic" children. I wonder if it was just human arrogance that fueled their plan.