I’m probably the most discouraged and tired I’ve been since living in Haiti.
The interesting thing is I don’t think it’s Haïti. For 5 years I’ve lived without consistent electricity, air conditioning, a washer/dryer. Honestly, life is ok without that stuff. The mosquitos can be a pain and I’ll never like boxed milk, but Haïti is good.
Our kids are happy and pretty phenomenal humans, I still like my husband. We like our life.
The people we work with are amazing, the clinic is growing, the cooperative is thriving, kids are in school and adults are learning to read. It’s all really great.
I’m not ok though. I’m watching lives change in amazing ways and families being destroyed- often in the same day. Sometimes I wonder why I can’t just ignore it. I wonder why I have to be confronted with it and feel it over and over again.
I live in the land of orphanages and I can’t not see.
I watch orphanages being built. And families destroyed. And parents cry. And kids shut off. And Americans come. And kids turn on (and perform). And people give stuff. And Americans leave. And stuff go out the gates. And food disappears. And rags come out. And the cycle repeats.
I know about beautiful buildings with brightly colored walls, and full bellies, and clean clothes, and kids getting an eduction. I also know that neglect and abuse happen in those same buildings.
People don’t want to know- it’s messy.
Churches don’t want to know- it’s humbling.
Organizations don’t want to know- it’s threatening.
Missionaries don’t want to know-it’s terrifying.
And I’m discouraged. We live in the age of information! We know better!
Part of walking humbly means admitting when we are wrong and changing. Even when it’s hard. Even when it’s scary. Even when it’s costly.
There’s a lot of necessary discussions that are taking place and need to take place about the orphanages already here. The ones with kids. No one is saying we can just shut them all down tomorrow.
But, NEW ONES?
Lord, save us from ourselves! What are we doing in His name?
With all that we know we still are buying, building, and opening places to house children that have parents? We are still saying we know better?
My husband Luke just met and talked with someone today who is here in Haiti to build a new orphanage! He told Luke the kids were currently being cared for in homes of church members.
They came to spend thousands and thousands of dollars to remove kids from their families and what seems like foster families! The church was doing her job- caring for the ‘orphan’ among them and Americans came to facilitate the institutionalization of children. This is not a win!
Instead of building an orphanage, the American church should be encouraging, celebrating, and supporting what this church was already doing.
I’m not even mad today. I’m just so so sad and heartbroken.
We have to do better. We have to start looking at these children as humans with needs far beyond a pretty dress and a soccer ball to play with. We all know that stuff isn’t the most important thing. We write articles about it and have get togethers and talk with our friends about our kids and all the stuff they think they need. We visit places like Haiti to get a good perspective and reset on our American – stuff filled lives.
And we solve the stuff problem in Haiti – with stuff.
Who rocks the baby to sleep? Who snuggles the sick toddler? Who stays up all night when kids are scared?
I know you want to help. I truly believe it because I did too. I helped build an orphanage. It’s still hard to say it, but I was a part of destroying families. 24 kids lived at the orphanage. 2 were true orphans. They were siblings.
I learned the hard way. This isn’t me screaming from on high. It’s me pleading from the depths.
I didn’t think about toddlers crying for their moms. I only thought about the sweet baby clinging to me and how good it felt to soothe away the tears.
I didn’t think about kids in a bunk room with no one to call when they were scared. I just thought about mattresses, sheets and pillows.
I didn’t think about attachment and abandonment. I just wanted to love on kids with no mommy and how great it was that I came to do that.
I didn’t think about boys and father figures. I only thought about kites and soccer balls.
Can we please do better? Can we commit to educating ourselves? Can we commit to change- even when it’s costly.