Wednesday, 3 February 2010

The 33 stranded children find shelter at SOS Children’s Villages

It was a moving moment for many. Some of the SOS mothers actually shed tears when the 33 children arrived in the SOS Children’s Village after their long ordeal. As has been reported by various media channels, ten members of a Baptist church community based in Idaho in the US had tried to leave the country with the children by bus and were subsequently arrested.

The boys and girls were utterly dazed as well as hungry and thirsty. One baby, just two months old, was showing signs of dehydration. The children had no personal belongings with them, many were barefoot. They received immediate medical attention and care. All of us here at SOS Children’s Villages will do anything to find the parents or relatives of these children. In the mean time, we will give them protection and stability.

Just a few days ago, some readers reacted critically to my statements on international adoptions, but these recent developments only go to show how important it is now to keep track of every child. At the moment it is next to impossible to know whether a child still has relatives. Many of the supposed orphans have repeatedly said they still have parents. One eight year old girl started to cry as she kept repeating “I am not an orphan”!

I also don’t like the idea of temporarily taking these children to the United States or Europe. Not only would this rob the children of any hope of being reunited with their family soon, which is all that matters to them now, it would also not be a good idea to allow a child to experience a “first world paradise” only to send them back to harsh reality in Haiti a few weeks later.

That’s why I’m glad the government has made it very clear that removing children from the country is prohibited at this time. The United Nations and all other children’s organisations share our opinion: do not permit hasty international adoptions!

During our search for the relatives of these children, we will proceed with utmost care and return the children only in strict coordination with the social welfare authorities. Some of the children have been given telephone numbers under which to reach their parents, and we will carefully investigate these, too. We cannot risk having them being put on yet another bus for the border!

While we do our best to give these children some calm and safety, rumours have been spreading that there have been more cases like this.

No comments:

Post a Comment