Thursday, January 21, 2010

A Voice from Haiti:

Dear Tom and Rebecca,

The only way to describe Haiti right now is a living nightmare. The lack of coordination and the practicalities of traveling from the Embassy to the airport and back to the orphanage makes it impossible to work with any efficiency and we can accomplish very little. Today we spent over 3 hours trying to get to the Embassy with 15 children – 14 under the age of two – and then spent 9 hours at the Embassy. We walked out with few parole visas and were advised that DOS had left for the evening so we would get our adoption visas the next day. After risking my life to enter an extremely damaged building to recover files and lugging them to the Embassy it was frustrating to say the least to have accomplished so little. In addition, I know I will need to stay up all night tonight to go over 40+ cases to assess the documents and to organize them, all while under a tent and using a flashlight. We are too scared to try to sleep inside and who can sleep anyway when every little noise or jar wakes you up in fear? The conditions are unfathomable and I cannot understand why we do not have a centralized location to serve these orphans – those already established as being in need of a family before the earthquake. I am so thirsty, but cannot drink as often as I would like because we are running out of water and I cannot take what the kids may need, although we came into Haiti with more than enough for us, we have to share what we have.

I have to stay strong here and not fall to pieces but the situation is truly impossible and is leading to unnecessary delays and continued and increased risk to children already established before the earthquake as orphans (as well as MANY others). I have so many fears – another aftershock that woke us so roughly on Wednesday morning and a wall tumbling down on our heads, children starving, the orphanage being looted as the frustration continues to grow regarding the delay in distributing supplies, children dying from sickness (almost all the children here have a deep cough and we have few meds. to offer), and ultimately, what other diseases will result from the conditions here.

The children are sleeping outside on soiled mattresses and in wet sheets – there are not enough diapers for them to be used as needed. They are scared to death and will cling to anyone who reaches out a hand. All of the people who experienced this horrific catastrophe seem to be suffering from post traumatic stress – quite understandably – and yes, I am qualified to diagnose.

I am having such a hard time seeing that orphans are once again being used as political pawns in spite of this monumental tragedy. I am standing in the midst of a nightmare where I am thirsty and hungry and scared – but I have a US passport and eventually I have the chance to go home to a warm bed, plenty of food and people who love me. When did common sense exit the entire equation regarding children’s welfare and establishing what is in the best interests of a child? How many children must die unnecessarily in the midst of this crisis because of bureaucratic red tape when simple and temporary solutions are not that difficult? But, I guess I should expect this – because we are dealing with very poor orphans and how high on the priority scale do they fall? When I initially heard about the US response to the orphan crisis in Haiti I was SO PROUD. I was so grateful that Obama was our President, Hilary Clinton was our Secretary of State and that for once we were going to get this right. Unfortunately, it seems that the US has again bowed to outside pressure to be politically correct and back down from what we know to be morally right. I do not think there is any person with an ounce of compassion who could view this situation and not believe that immediate and decisive action is necessary to save the children of Haiti. Enough will die without us contributing through inaction and inefficiency.

Please pray for all of us here. We need it desperately.

-Joint Council

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