January 30, 2010

Bajans can help Haiti's orphans

Published on: 1/30/2010. Barbados Nation

ALL THOSE WHO GAVE unselfishly to the Help Haiti Now Radiothon and the other ongoing initiatives to assist our brethren in that earthquake ravaged country must be commended.

A people's humanity can be measured in part by their willingness to share their property to help someone in distress without seeking anything in return. On this test, many Barbadians have scored highly.

So as the first shipment of relief supplies leaves these shores today for Haiti via Jamaica, we should be proud that we tried to make a positive difference in the lives of others.

Likewise, those of us who flock to the Farley Hill National Park today to patronise the Haiti - Barbados Loves You Concert should be mindful of the unfortunate circumstances which led to the holding of this historic musical extravaganza and give willingly to this worthy effort.

Laudable as these initiatives are, more needs to be done, and can be done, by Barbadians to assist in alleviating the plight of the Haitian people. Here, we speak specifically of the thousands of orphans - little innocent children - who have nowhere or no one to turn to. These children need food, shelter, clothing, schooling and loving care; they need to be off the streets.

Before the earthquake, 15 per cent of Haiti's children were orphaned or abandoned. In the capital Port-au-Prince alone, there were an estimated 380 000 orphans. Since the earthquake, reports suggest that number could have doubled.

The quake has been equally devastating on the orphanages that existed as well. Most are now inhabitable or severely damaged, as well as understaffed. There are now fears that a second wave of casualties will ravage this vulnerable group if they are not evacuated as soon as possible.

The United States government is making it easier for Haitian orphans being adopted by Americans to enter that country. On a case-by-case basis the adoption of orphaned children by US citizens, or who have been matched to prospective adoptive parents who are US citizens is being expedited.

This move has expedited the process for adoption of Haitian orphans and has resulted in several hundred children leaving Haiti for the United States.

What can Barbados do to ease the suffering of these children? Plenty!

We feel Government should mount an initiative to identify and match at least 500 orphans to families here who would want to accommodate them and have the love and adequate financial resources to take care of them.

The children should be able to remain here for up three years in the first instance to give the Haitian government sufficient time to get their orphanages rebuilt and functioning. Local families should then be given the option of adopting the child living with them, if they so desire.

The urgency of this matter demands that Government swiftly pursue such an avenue to help the youngest victims of this tragedy in a visible and tangible manner.

If this action is taken, people would not have to wonder if and how their donations are assisting the Haiti earthquake survivors. Instead, on a daily basis they would be able to contribute to the cause by raising a Haitian child.


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