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This is the story of Saida (name changed) who lives in Haiti. I have known of Saida since she was brought by her grandmother to a small rural orphanage as an infant. Her father is unknown and her mother disappeared in 2008 after hurricane Ike – although no body has been found, she is assumed to be dead. Her grandmother couldn’t care for Saida any longer. She had failure to thrive and was moved to Port au Prince in the hopes of better care for her. Many efforts have been made to secure the appropriate documents so that Saida has the opportunity of adoption, as there is no one to care for her in Haiti. For years various people have been rebuffed in trying to gather proof of the death of Saida’s mother and the documentation that has been secured is not considered “good enough” by the Haitian Office for Child Welfare to begin an adoption. There is too much bureaucracy and not enough common sense.
Within days of the earthquake, I was in Haiti again and stayed at Saida’s orphanage with a team of other Americans. I heard the urgency in the voice of a nurse team member as she changed the diaper of a girl about the same age as Saida. This precious child was clearly torn and howled, her face a mask of terror. She had been raped. This little girl and one other were eligible for Humanitarian Parole, but not Saida or any of the others at this orphanage. We have no idea who raped this child, how it occurred and/or how many other children have been violated. We have no idea if an older boy, normally separated from the younger children, raped her in the chaos after the earthquake and while all the childrenwere living outside together. We have no idea if this was a one- time event or something more ongoing. We just don’t have answers.
This is a hard story to tell. Realizing that a child had been raped in an orphanage was devastating. Knowing that we left children in this potential danger is something I will never forgive myself for. In Haiti there was and is no better option – and I have fully explored multiple ideas. We could have tried to forge documents to bring out Saida – we could have lied and honestly I think we would have been in compliance with God’s law had we done this. We know she is an orphan. We have met her Grandmother. We know her life situation and yet, we know it is unlikely that we will ever get the documents that will be acceptable for her to be adopted. We chose man’s law over God’s law and as a result Saida will continue to wait.
Every day I wake up knowing that I left a child in an orphanage where another child was raped. The really sad part of this is that rapes and violence happen every day in orphanages all over the world. I’m angry – angry at God, angry at abusers, angry at governments and bureaucrats who turn a blind eye and most of all angry with myself. I didn’t do enough. I failed Saida – we all did.
Be The Answer for Saida. Check out our Be The Answer Toolkit and plan on hosting a party. The Be The Answer Toolkit can be found here!