The Dark Side of Haitian Orphanages Part 7
As of this writing, there are officially 1,174 active cases and 33 deaths associated with Covid-19. While it is difficult to know what the actual numbers may be, this shows a drastic increase over the past week with yesterday being the largest jump in both new cases (105) and deaths (4) so far. Please continue to pray for GOD to intervene and stop the spread of the virus there.
Today I am going to continue the series entitled "The Dark Side of Haitian Orphanages." I want you to remember a few things as you read through this series. These posts have been based on my own observations and form the basis for a lot of what we try to stay away from in our planning for All Things New. I do not think our orphanage is perfect nor do I believe that everyone will agree with everything that I am saying.
The main thing that I am trying to communicate is that running an orphanage is difficult no matter what, and running one in a developing country adds challenges that many of us never consider. These issues are there, and it is up to us to do our best to navigate these difficulties and help our kids to become the men and women they were created to be.
Today I am going to speak on something that is pretty common in Haiti, and it is not necessarily a negative thing in all circumstances. I am writing about it because, when it is bad, it can be really bad. I call it the "Orphanage/School/Church" model of orphan care. This is when, on one property, stands a child's school, church, and orphanage. Since church is generally the center of spiritual and social activities, schools are the center for education, and orphanages are the center for home life, it is conceivable that in this model of ministry a child will never leave their property.
At its best, this model of ministry insulates a child from all of the negative aspects of a society while also not teaching them how to live in their own world and society.
This means that many ministry leaders want to keep their children away from the evil that is so easy to fall into no matter where you live. The instinct to protect a child is good, and I cannot overstate that sentence. Many of us have a tendency to allow our kids to watch things they should not, listen to things that will hurt them, and do things that they are too young to do in the name of freedom. We should want to shield and protect children from as much evil as we possibly can. There does come a point, however, when we have to allow our kids to be a part of their community and their culture and it is a fine line. Especially in some areas of Haiti, this is a difficult thing to process. Over the past few months when things have been at its worse in the country, the instinct to protect at all costs has come out in many, including All Things New. Regardless of where we are, however, it is so important not to take our kids completely out of their culture and community in the name of safety.
At its worse, this model allows corrupt men and women to keep all positive influences out of a child's life to the point that they can turn them into whatever they want the child to be.
This means that corrupt orphanage leaders can take children at an early age and turn them into whatever they want with no accountability. We were well aware of an orphanage like this very close to Audancin's place. The truth is, unchecked, this type of ministry left in the hands of evil men and women can lead to anything. Some of the worst things that could happen include child slavery or trafficking. Those who are lucky are taught to beg and lie to outsiders to try to get money and food for their orphanage and this is the extent of their interaction with the outside world. It's no wonder that they cannot contribute to their society. The bottom line is that children can easily be used for terrible purposes, and when corrupt men and women have unfettered access to children, the result is disastrous.
We decided, long ago, not to pursue the orphanage/school/church model of orphan care. We chose, instead, to rent a home in a neighborhood, send the kids to a local school, and even allow the older kids to choose what church they wanted to attend. Is this the right thing to do? Maybe and maybe not. We believe it is the right thing for our kids because it is so important for them to learn to live in their own culture. To have friends that they interact with on the outside, to have mentors in their churches, and to have discipline from their schools. Basically, to have a well-rounded life that can help them to mature into well-rounded men and women.
The model of ministry that keeps a child inside a gate or on one piece of land for all aspects of their life is pretty common in Haiti. Both well-meaning ministry leaders and corrupt "orphanage leaders" use this model for very different and opposing reasons. The bottom line is that we want our kids to know life outside of the gate, and we believe that this is vital for their long term growth.