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Haiti’s Children–Part 3 of 4

February 4, 2010

To review, I’m in the middle of a four-part series thinking about the tragedy that Haitians are undergoing this month and the unfortunate event of 10 Americans being arrested for gathering Haitian orphans and transferring them to another orphanage outside of Haiti.

Part three concerns the idea of rescuing children. Angelina Jolie made a social justice splash several years ago by flying to Southeast Asia and adopting several children with Brad Pitt, bringing a lot of positive attention to adoptions. Thousands of Americans adopt internationally each year—as I stated in part 1, most of these families adopt to attain joy, energy, and the ability to share love with a child. And I want to commend these families for often overcoming an incredible amount of difficulties (the inability to have children biologically and, as a result, grieving the loss of an idealized child, legal and financial difficulties, etc.) on their path to adoption. I find it amazing that these families continue following their dreams of parenthood and joy in the midst of these difficulties—in many ways, their visions of the expansiveness of God’s kingdom are far greater than mine.

But I’m curious if “rescuing” children—taking these children from their nations of origin and rearing them in the U.S., especially while neglecting the culture from the child’s nation of origin—is always the best option for that child. Can he/she obtain an equal, if not higher level of education, moral standards, and financial capabilities in his/her own nation of origin as in the U.S?

Honestly, sometimes that answer is definitively no, especially when a child’s world has turned upside down, such as in times of natural disaster, political turmoil, or cultural/familial oppression. But I’m curious about when the answer is “perhaps” or “yes”.

I’m thinking of our friends Ray and Amanda who founded an orphanage, Sanctuary Home, in Tenali, India. Katie and I give financial donations to one of the children there, which provides clothing, food, and textbooks, among other things. Katie’s summary of Sanctuary Home, written for Halogen’s magazine, can be found here. Ray and Amanda run the financial aspects (donations, grant-writing, etc.) from Abilene, and they’ve teamed with a humanitarian worker/preacher named Isaac, who manages the Sanctuary Home campus in India. Isaac, his family, and team of workers provide these children with a Christian education comparable to many of the public schools in Tenali (several children have gone to Indian trade schools, with the potential for many more to enter trade schools and universities). Isaac and Mary (his wife) provide safety for these children not just by meeting basic needs, but also through compassion, awareness, and peace. Funding comes largely from Western bank accounts, but the children are educated within the context of Indian customs, language, and rituals.

I’m also thinking about failed nations and disaster centrals (such as Haiti). I’m curious how removing children from difficult circumstances affects the future of these nations. Would it matter? I mean, if a child witnesses abuse or trauma, chances are that those events will perpetuate themselves in the future, right? Or is it possible that removing children means eliminating the hope of stability, security, and culture for that nation?

Are there change agents in these nations, like Sanctuary Home, who can provide on-site nurturance and wisdom from loving, culturally sensitive, and culturally-aware people? What happens if our response to the Haitian disaster is supporting non-profits such as these—literally going to all of the nations instead of bringing all nations to America?



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