The occasional, often ill-considered thoughts of a Roman Catholic permanent deacon who is ever grateful to God for his existence. Despite the strangeness we encounter in this life, all the suffering we witness and endure, being is good, so good I am sometimes unable to contain my joy. Deo gratias!

Monday, February 22, 2010

More from Haiti

After writing my previous post in which I provided information on Free the Kids, I took a longer look at Father Marc's blog and what I read only confirmed a long-held belief regarding charitable organizations: the larger the organization, the less effectively and efficiently it helps those who rely on its services.

Just read below what Father Marc wrote this past Friday (February 19) about the large charities operating in Haiti -- in this instance he used UNICEF as an example -- and keep in mind how long it's been since the catastrophic earthquake struck that impoverished nation.

A friend of Peter's sent him the link to an article in TIME Magazine entitled 
UNICEF seeks to keep kids out of Haiti orphanages
The journalists who penned this article did a poor job of doing research.  Maybe they had a deadline to meet?  They generalized from stories of some orphanages to make it sound like anyone who desires to help the children is a borderline child trafficker.  I am aware of many shelters for children who do fantastic work with very little means.  We do everything in our power to care for children and to give them a safe and loving home.  Yes, there are places that are nothing more than businesses for the owner or worse. But to lump us all together?

The writers were unfair to parents who are so desperately poor that they will consider giving up their child so that s/he can eat, maybe go to school, have a chance at a better life.  These people are not callous nor are they loveless.  They are POOR.  What a disservice to the people of Haiti!
The director of UNICEF Haiti is quoted as saying "No to the orphanages in Haiti!".  Wow, what a sound bite.  Remember the post I wrote a couple of days ago when I was ranting about the fancy offices, the cold air-conditioning, the shiny cars of the big NGOs and their strategy to "make systemic change" rather than waste their time actually helping children by feeding them, clothing them, providing medical care...?  Well, the one big NGO that had converted an old mansion into a gleaming office space with beautiful furniture and striking art work, that had lots of very busy people working on their computers, that had security guards protecting them from the riff-raff, that had paved over a large courtyard so that they could park their new SUVs...was UNICEF Haiti.  They made a conscious choice not to practice direct intervention to assist a child.  They have not helped any orphanage that I'm aware of in providing the basics like food, clothing, medicine, education.  How very noble to stand there now and say "No to the Haitian orphanages!".  I was told "No" years ago by them and have cringed every time I see the slick fundraising UNICEF puts out every holiday season.
Phew,  thanks for listening.  I feel better now.

And just a few days before, on February 16, Father Marc posted the following:

Unlike all the previous Mardi Gras celebrations I've seen (mostly heard), today was subdued. Understandable considering the great loss felt by everyone. Except for us grass-root small non-profits, there's been no international relief here. How much longer will we be ignored? Tensions are high in the city as people are hungry and have no means to purchase food. Families are hurting under the strain of hosting those from Port au Prince. Heard that a small vessel came to port this afternoon and that there was a riot as people fought to get food. No police or UN military for security. No real plan other than give out food and blankets. Not good.
We spent the day keeping the kids busy and happy, updating our archives with the new children's info, trying to reply to emails when HughesNet won't cooperate, making sure we are covering all our bases for the arrival of the SeaHunter to avoid another riot...
Funny thing, no children's rights people came today. Must have been a sanctioned day off (a mental health day?) or they read my earlier post. Looks like I struck a nerve as I've never had that many comments on a post before.
There's a new glitch with regards the M/V SeaHunter that could be the end this mercy mission so please say a prayer that it gets to set sail tomorrow.
Tomorrow is Ash Wednesday so we will be celebrating Mass, one of the favorites of the year as all the children get to come forward and have us dirty their foreheads. We wish you a thoughtful and rejuvenating Lent.
After reading these and other posts by Father Marc, I am particularly pleased that the women of our parish decided to support Father Marc in his ministry. Pray for him as he does God's work


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