Failed post-quake relief in Haiti

Unless you live in your very own dim, little cave ten thousand miles away from civilisation, i reckon you should have read or at least heard about Haiti’s 7.0 magnitude earthquake and it’s post-tragedy efforts – Ellen TheGenerous’ eBay Charity auction and George Clooney’s high profile telethon, which involved many of today’s popular artistes, are just two amongst many other things which have been done. Not all help that has been rendered to Haiti has proved to be constructive and effectual, though. The case in point is the arrest of 10 U.S. church missionaries.

These 10 U.S. church missionaries, whose ages range from 18 to 55, were arrested at the borders of Haiti on the basis that they were taking 33 children out of Haiti without proper and legal paperwork. The missionaries are now being charged with kidnapping.

The missionaries have claimed that they only and simply wanted to help the children. (Wait… what’s that saying again? Ah… yes! The road to hell is often paved with good intentions.) However, the UN Law states that orphaned children should only be put up for adoption two years post-quake, after all methods exhausted to search for living family has failed. Also, unorphaned children have to go through different legal proceedings to be adopted. The missionaries failed to comply with these two regulations by taking with them children who were still under parental care or had guardians.

Whisking children – young citizens, no less – out of their own country without legal papers, albeit to a safer place, sounds to me like driving without a license with people in the backseat. It is common sense that I need a child’s custody and perhaps a passport or a document of sorts to move him or her someplace else; likewise I need a permit to use a vehicle. Also, given that human or child trafficking peaks when a country is in a state of instability and chaos, being without important papers put the missionaries at a high risk of being accused of the crime. They should have known better. Unless, of course, the horrendous above-mentioned act was exactly what they were trying to do.

I would like to believe so, so let’s just say they were really trying to turn things around for those helpless children affected by the quake – I suppose they could have gone about doing things differently. For one, they should have done the required background work and research because taking charge of 33 lives is a tremendously big thing to do. Not knowing that legal papers and custody rights were needed should never have been an excuse. It was in every aspect dangerous for a team of inexperienced and uninformed people to export the kids elsewhere without legal consent. Yes, even if they were missionaries. Also, no short-cuts should have been taken. If it was neccessary, they could have waited till the storm calmed, till things became more settled before they stepped in to do their good work. It is understandable they were concerned and anxious about the children’s well-being, but what translated through their actions were carelessness and hastiness. While all these extra steps might be troublesome and time-consuming, they are fundamentally essential. The missionaries would then not be providing the most efficient relief, but compromises have to be made for stability and effectiveness.

The missionaries’ or “missionaries'” negligence or “negligence” has brought about slight but superfluous friction between the U.S. and Haiti, it has also gotten them detained in Haiti for a week now. On the brighter note, it’s not all that bad: spurious missionaries or holy helpers, they sure will teach other organisations to do a more thorough job.

– lightningpore


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