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Blog

The Jasper House Haiti blog is designed to share stories, updates and testimonies that raise awareness, create dialogue and bring enlightenment to those seeking to become more involved in the advocacy and abolition of injustice. 

 

The Poverty Orphan.

Maria Atkinson

Less than a month ago my husband and I traveled to Haiti for our bonding trip for our adoption. We met a little boy who one day soon will become our son. When we started the long journey of international adoption, we felt specifically called to adopt a child from Haiti. We have been beyond thrilled to have this calling and to be able provide a loving home for a child. At the same time the backstory of "orphans" in Haiti is utterly heartbreaking, and almost too much for this momma's heart to bear. I actually inwardly cringe sometimes when people congratulate me on our adoption because deep down I know this is not how it was suppose to be. I wish, wish, wish these sweet parents in Haiti could keep their babies. 

This is the reality:

  1. 80% of orphans in Haiti still have at least one living parent
  2. These children are considered "social" orphans or "poverty" orphans because their parent(s) have no access to health, education or social services in their community.

Did you get that?  The majority of these "orphans" would NOT be in an orphanage if their parent's economic circumstances were different. It's not that their parent(s) didn't want them or love them, it is purely based on their situation in Haiti.

I will likely never know what it is like to be in that circumstance.  You will likely never know what it is like either.  We can try to imagine for a moment if we were, but yet we have no real experience from our past to draw a proper image (of true reality) from. 

We suffer from an indifference, in that we cannot really sympathize with the parents of Haiti because we ourselves have never gone through or even met someone who has suffered such a tragedy. 

When we were at the orphanage in Haiti, there was one little girl that became quite attached to me and I with her. I'd say she was around 2 years old. She had very distinct facial features and I started to see a couple of other little girls at the orphanage that looked a lot like her. I soon found out they were all sisters.

One day, I noticed a nanny speaking with another woman who I didn't recognize as a worker at the orphanage. In the instant that I saw her face, I knew she was this little girl's mother. I don't know her story specifically, I don't know what led her to bring them to the orphanage, but I can take a pretty good guess. I cannot describe to you how I felt in that moment, how I felt myself die a little inside.  I had compassion for her or "compati" Latin for to "suffer with."  That evening I started reading about the many times Jesus felt compassion for those He was with, those who were suffering or hurting. And you know what, EVERY SINGLE TIME He followed it up with an action, He did something. 

It's not enough to feel compassion, we have to do something. 

I like how a fellow foster/adoptive advocate, Jason Johnson put it. To paraphrase loosely, he talks about 3 friends coming up on a raging river with a waterfall up ahead. They notice that there are babies in the river, so they immediately jump into action:

  1. The 1st guy jumps in right there and starts pulling babies out.
  2. The 2nd guy runs downstream to save as many babies as possible from falling off the waterfall. 
  3. The 3rd guy runs upstream to figure out why the babies are in the river in the first place and to stop it from happening. 

All three reactions are right and necessary:

  1. Adoption is needed and necessary otherwise these children will languish in orphanages their entire childhood without a family.
  2. There has to be something in place that if children are not adopted, that they have a future and they have support or likely they will end up being homeless, trafficked, etc.
  3. We have to figure out how it can be stopped, how can we help the parents keep their children?  

This will come when opportunity is given to parents to have education, learn a trade and be able to use it for income, start a business, etc.

This is what Jasper House Haiti is doing. 

It is mind-blowing to me what they are doing for the lives of women in Haiti.  To list a few:

  • They are pulling women out of unthinkable situations:
    • Situations that they have found themselves in by no fault of their own, but merely for survival.
    • Many to keep their children from ending up in an orphanage. 
  • Maria and the team there in Haiti are empowering these women by sharing the love of Jesus Christ with them.
  • Letting them know that they have value and worth and they are worth dying for. 
  • Letting them know that there is beauty from the ashes and God will restore what has been broken.

When I think of Jasper House Haiti, I think of Hope. That things can be different and can be better. That these valuable women can have dignified work and they CAN keep their children.
This is the world we desperately long for. 

So what can we do?  They are in Haiti and we are in America. 

Actually there is a lot we can do: 

  • Pray for these precious mothers and fathers who feel they have no other choice than to place their children in orphanages.
  • Pray for Jasper House Haiti that God will bless the work that He has called Maria to.
  • Pray specifically on how the Lord would call you to support Jasper House Haiti. 
  • Purchase products made in Haiti (Jasper House Haiti, Noonday Collection, Haiti Made, Haiti Design Co-Op, 3 Cords Haiti, just to name a few)
  • Plan a trip to Haiti:
    • See the beauty of this country
    • Fall in love with her people
    • Spend money in Haiti buying their food (which is really, really good) and handiwork. 
    • Learn from them.  They have much to offer us!
  • Educate yourself:
    • Read books about Haiti (When Helping Hurts, Toxic Charity, The Big Truck That Went By, Haiti by Philippe Girard, Haiti by Laurent Dubois), Watch documentaries (Poverty, Inc.)
    • Talk with those who have been who have taken up residence in Haiti. 

It really is this simple.  Think about it.  When you buy products made in Haiti you are literally putting food on the table, allowing parents to keep their children, helping send kids to school, and so much more.  Jasper House Haiti's store will be up soon, so be on the look out. This will be an excellent way to support the women at Jasper House as they start earning a living through making beautiful handmade items. 

We may not be called to live in Haiti, but we certainly ALL can support this organization's efforts financially, even the smallest gifts can make a huge difference. Please consider becoming a monthly donor, this could be the best way possible to aid them in changing lives in Haiti. Maria is on the front lines of a spiritual battle, she and the Jasper House team are fighting the enemy for the lives of these women. I truly believe that God did not intend that she go it alone, but that she would have an army of believers behind her supporting her calling. 

Now that we know, we are responsible to do something.  Don't just have compassion, spring to action and do something.  Follow the example of our Savior.  If He did it, we should certainly do the same. 

That’s exactly what Jesus did. He didn’t make it easy for himself by avoiding people’s troubles, but waded right in and helped out....
— Romans 15:3 (MSG).
From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.
— ‭‭Luke 12:48 (NIV)
If anyone, then, knows the good they ought to do and doesn’t do it, it is sin for them.
— ‭‭James‬ ‭4:17‬ ‭(NIV)

Written by: Misty Seale - Jasper House Haiti Board Member, and co-founder and director of Love Does, a foster care ministry in Norman, Oklahoma.