I haven’t been able to get those poor Haitian kids off of my mind, despite my post last week.
This afternoon, my husband came into the room where I was reading and said, “I don’t know if you’re interested, but Issues, Etc. is doing a segment on what to do about Haitian orphans next. The show is live right now, so you could call in if you wanted to.”
Well, then. 🙂
Todd Wilken, hoste of Issues, Etc., had posed a question based on the recent news story about ten (American) Baptist missionaries who had attempted to cross the border into the Dominican Republic with a busload of Haitian children. They were stopped by authorities, could not produce the proper paperwork to show that all was in order, and the Americans were subsequently arrested for child trafficking. Wilken asked, “What would YOU do if you were in their place? Is the Haitian government at fault or the Baptist missionaries?”
So, I called in and got on the show, which was a bit of excitement in my afternoon. 🙂 You can listen to the podcast of half-hour segment that I was on by clicking on this link (My comments are about eleven minutes in). I wish Wilken had engaged in a bit of a discussion with me, as he did the previous caller. But, perhaps I was just so eloquent that nothing more could be said. 😉
It IS a tough situation, however. Here you’ve got these Haitian kids running around, separated from their parents and families, and perhaps their parents are dead. No one knows. The younger ones probably can’t even tell authorities who they are. (JJ and I talked about this the other day. If, God forbid, something happened to us and Curious J was on her own, no one would understand her when she said her name. WE understand her jibberish, and it gets more understandable to an outsider every day, but I doubt other adults could understand her. Furthermore, she’d probably be too traumatized to be able to identify herself anyway.) So, you’ve got a bunch of kids, a sizeable percentage of which no one knows who they are or to whom they belong. There’s no good infrastructure in place to care for these children. At best, they’re getting food and shelter; at worst they’re wandering around and hopefully someone takes pity on them. But even the lucky ones who are getting food and shelter probably aren’t being carefully watched like children get watched over here in America. Whether these Baptist missionaries are child traffickers or not (and I doubt that they are), the fact is that there ARE sickos out there who would be happy to snatch as many of these kids up as they can and sell them into a life of sexual slavery. What kind of life is that for a kid? Furthermore, even if they’re NOT picked up by child traffickers, there is still no guarantee that even their basic human needs for food and shelter will be met, not to mention love and security!! My goodness, from this perspective we all should be carting kids out of Haiti as fast as we can!!
What if these kids’ parents are NOT dead? What if, at best, they’re looking for their kids? What if, at worst, they’re injured and being cared for in a makeshift hospital, delirious and in pain? What if they survive their injuries and later on, want to find their children (just like any of us parents would do in a similar situation)? Should we really be in such a hurry to get these kids out of Haiti? Plus, this is their homeland, this is their culture, this is their world. We don’t want to be like the Pied Piper of Hamelin, taking kids away from their homeland and leaving only a few unlucky ones behind, either.
JJ and I agreed that there are no easy answers to this situation. A middle-class American upbringing is not necessarily better than an upbringing in any other part of the world, even in third-world countries. JJ suggested that, ideally, these kids should somehow be put in “foster care” for a while, while the Haitian government sorts things out. Willing Americans could temporarily care for Haitian children here in the States with the knowledge that once life in Haiti was up and running again, these kids would then go back to Haiti where permanent arrangements for the children would be made.
Of course, HOW that would actually happen would be a huge dilemma. Talk about a logistical nightmare!
So, I don’t know. Should non-Haitians be doing their best to get needy Haitian children out of Haiti to places where their needs can be met? Or should non-Haitians bow to the will of the Haitian government and allow these children to remain in Haiti, where there is no food, no families, no infrastructure, and where there is a possibility of disease, death, or kidnapping by unscrupulous people? Which of these is doing the will of God?
I honestly have no idea. However, if an opportunity presents itself to help out Haitian children, even for a short while, our family would definitely look into being part of it.