Haiti Horror….
January 19, 2010

Common painting themes in Haiti....

I have a painting at home that looks very similar to this one….only it’s more primitive and less refined looking. I bought it in Haiti, years ago when I was in Port-au-Prince. A city teeming with people, most living in tin shacks, you couldn’t really walk the streets without people insisting that you buy something. So I bought the painting. But it brings back memories of Haiti’s largest city…memories of extreme poverty and people living in conditions that residents of the U.S. would find intolerable. And now this. What little they had….a bit of a house, some pots and pans, clothing, some furniture…it’s gone. Along with many of their friends and relatives. Never to be seen again, and many  they will never know what happened to them, because as bodies are shoved into old crypts or mass graves, no one is keeping records of who died…or how many.

I wonder how babies that are pulled from the wreckage will ever find their families…if their families are indeed alive. And the number of orphans in the country is now growing…kids with no one to look out for them. There were already some 50,000 orphans in Haiti before the earthquake, several hundred of whom were in the process of being adopted by American families, but now all those records are lost.

Many were hoping the U.S. would grant orphans in Haiti what is called Humanitarian Parole, which would allow certain children to enter The U.S. quickly without tons of paperwork, to be adopted. Otherwise, what will happen to these thousands of orphans, many of whom lost their caretakers too? And that has happened, Dept. of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano announced yesterday that children already in the process of being adopted, or those who had been matched with an American family would be expedited through. Unfortunately that might help only some 600 children….and it’s being done on a case by case basis. What will happen to the rest of them?