The Dark Side of Haitian Orphanages Part 4
If you missed the last 3 blogs All Things New blogs, just click here, click here, or click here to read the first 3 parts of this series. Today's blog will focus on a new topic...The hope of a Better Life."
Did you know that there are a lot of men and women in Haiti who truly believe that getting their children into an orphanage is the first step to a better life? That is such a sad sentence to write and idea to contemplate. I do not want anyone to read these blogs and think that there are a bunch of parents in Haiti who do not care about their children. That is not the case.
It is hard to describe a level of poverty that would lead someone, for economic reasons, to give their child away to an institution. In America, for the majority of cases, there are multiple safety nets that protect parents. Whether it be food stamps, rent assistance, etc. there are ways for biological parents to keep their children with them and to take care of them. Even when those safety nets fall, there is a wonderful foster care system and incredible adoptive parents who are ready to take children into their home and love them.
These "safety nets" that exist to take care of children and assist families in America do not exist in Haiti. There are some organizations in Haiti that do their best to keep families together, but in large part these are smaller organizations with no overarching entity (ie the government) to organize their efforts and to ensure that families and especially children are protected.
The basic idea is that there are many families in Haiti that struggle even to find food and shelter, much less health care and education. In fact, about 50% of Haitians are undernourished and about 22% of Haitian children are chronically malnourished. I could keep listing facts, but the problem is simple...There are a lot of children in Haiti and there are a lot of mothers and fathers who cannot provide for these children.
In the next blog, I will start to write about a somewhat newer idea in Haiti where many nonprofit organizations (specifically American-run nonprofits) are calling for orphanages to become extinct. At the same time, as much if not more than ever, Haitian men and women are trying as hard as they can to find an orphanage to take their children and to give them these 3 hopes:
1. That their child will have food to eat.
2. That their child will be able to go to school.
3. That their child will have a future.
Sadly, the most likely outcome for a child who ends up in an orphanage in Haiti is that they will be just as hungry, just as uneducated, and just as hopeless as they were before, but on top of those things they also will no longer have a family. Many kids who wind up in an orphanage will be taken advantage of and used as an instrument of corrupt men and women to make money off of their suffering. They will be pushed in front of short and long term missionaries and told to beg for love, affection, and most importantly for donations.
The parents who put their children in orphanages oftentimes have no idea what is going to happen next. They come to the end of their ropes and their only hope is that someone else can provide their children with what they cannot. It is truly a travesty, and even worse is that things are not getting better. With the political issues, Covid-19, inflation, and huge increases in the cost of food, things are as bad as ever.
So what do we do? How do we help? The truth is, these question haunt me almost every day. What do we do? How can we make a difference when things are like this. It can be discouraging and it can make you want to give up. Until you start to see the faces and the situation of kids like Herbison, Dada, Malayika, Apolon, and others. I am not saying that we do not try to make a bigger change, because believe me that is what I pray about and that is how we are trying to move forward. But even now, it is important to note that we are making a difference and we will continue to do so even in the face of very difficult circumstances.