The Dark Side of Haitian Orphanages Part 3
If you missed the first two parts of this series, click here and click here to read the two previous posts. While we are away from Haiti and thinking about our kids and ministry constantly, we thought it was important to share about how difficult orphan care can be and how that difficulty can be magnified in a place like Haiti.
Today I want to touch on this statement from the first blog in this series: "Many orphanages in Haiti do not exist primarily to take care of children. In fact, many exist because morally corrupt men or women want to take advantage of the suffering of children and make money off of people who truly want to help."
I remember about 2 years after we started All Things New, one of our supporters made a comment that really struck me. They said, "Your kids look too happy." That supporter removed their support from All Things New and presumably found an orphanage where the kids looked like they were suffering more and needed their support.
First of all, this is not me being bitter about that incident. I completely understand that not everyone is going to support our ministry and that there are ministries all over the place who need support just like we do. My disappointment comes in the sentiment of the statement because it shows one of the strategies that many "orphanage leaders" in Haiti use.
When we used to drive up to the orphanage in the early days, the kids would come out of their houses looking horrible. Their clothes were torn, they looked like they were starving, and they put on a show to crave attention from any American who would give it to them. Honestly, it was a very effective technique. We love to think that we are needed and loved, and it definitely makes us want to give whatever we can to make things better.
When we started spending real time down there, we realized exactly what was happening. In fact, at least a few of the children who would come down and meet us did not even live in the orphanage. They were recruited to come down when teams were on their way. The kids were told how to act, were coerced to sing, and were skilled at getting things donated to the orphanage.
The bottom line is that, while the kids were really hungry and starving for attention, the overall truth of what was going on was a con. The "leader" of many of these orphanages are simply con men who do not have another or more effective way of making money. So they take advantage of families and children who believe that an orphanage is the only way to a better life (more to come on this in the next blog).
It is hard to describe how evil this practice is. Children are torn from their families with the idea that they will have a better life. If they are lucky, they get to eat and go to school sometimes. In many cases, it is much worse. Abuse, trafficking, child slavery, and other terrible things are pretty commonplace in the worst instances. Our kids were not loved, they were not cared for, and they were certainly taken advantage of. But not anymore!
My challenge to everyone reading this is to be careful who you give your money to. It is important to know what is happening on the ground at all times because it can be the difference between taking care of children or allowing children to be taken advantage of. It is so important to be equal parts giving and wise, and this is why we take every precaution with every donation we receive to make sure our kids and our employees are taken care of.
Stay tuned for more of this series over the next few weeks, and stay safe with everything that is going on. Please continue to pray for America, for Haiti, and for the world as things are so different now than even 2 months ago.