Haiti Orphanage/Group Home That Was Ravaged by Deadly Fire on February 13th, Has Been Linked to ‘Cult’ Known For NYC Upscale Antique Stores
This plea is very time sensitive. My name is Valerie Dirksen, and I am a child advocate, and President of International Children’s Rights Advocates Society, which is based in Georgia. I work in Haiti advocating for a group of orphans who were molested by an American who ran an unlicensed orphanage for over 30 years, with the support of seemingly unsuspecting foreigners. We have been able to secure an arrest warrant, and Red Interpol Arrest warrant, yet he remains free even after Interpol picked him up in the DR where he was running a children’s home with mostly Haitian refugee children.
One of my Child advocates in Haiti contacted me on February 15th to inform me about an orphanage fire in Fermathe, Haiti. He was concerned that the media had not properly reported the victims. He was mostly concerned for 4 toddlers who were in the clinic who had been badly burned. He begged me to do something quickly, because he was afraid they were not going to make it. The fire truck took over 90 minutes to get to the home, and did not have enough water, so they had to go back for more. Additionally, the children reportedly survived the fire, but died at the Baptiste Mission because there was no oxygen. There have been differing reports on the chaos that night.
I immediately contacted my advocates in Haiti who went to the house, and met with several people familiar with the fire. The advocates were shocked at the house, and what they saw in the orphanage. Further, the orphanage had not been licensed since 2013. They are required to register with the US Embassy, and the Institute of Social Welfare and Research, (IBESR). Haitian inspectors faulted the group for overcrowding, unsanitary conditions and not having enough adequately trained staff. IBESR initially reported that the building housed 66 children, and there were reports only one adult was on the property. The fire is still being investigated and there are a lot of unanswered questions.
The group home had been operating in Haiti since 1977 by the Church of Bible Understanding in Scranton, Pennsylvania. According to their website, they claim to operate in New York, Florida and California. The group operates two homes for nearly 200 children in Haiti as part of a “Christian training program.” The group reported revenue of $6.5 mil. And, expenses of $2.2M in 2017.
Only 35 orphanages out of 754 meet the standards to operate. The conditions at the home were deplorable and disturbing. More than 25,000 children live in these group homes. The homes are often referred to as orphanages, but more than 80 percent of the children have parents who may live nearby. Due to the extreme poverty in Haiti, with most living on less than $3 per day, families cannot afford to take care of their children. This is despite the $20B in aid that was sent to Haiti since the earthquake. Often times, they place their children in these group homes with little government regulation in the hopes they will be educated and have a better life.
The orphanage industry in Haiti is alive and well, and has been estimated to be a $3.27 billion dollar business. Human trafficking has been known to be occurring in these homes, and it has essentially caused a public health crisis. The money involved has led to extreme corruption, and we hold the Director of IBESR, Madam Villadroin, criminally negligent for allowing this fire to happen. We also hold the US Embassy responsible for allowing a $6.6M business to operate in such deplorable conditions, without being licensed.
The first hearing for the orphanage director was postponed because the director had returned to the US. It has not been rescheduled. We filed a motion on behalf of the victims, demanding autopsies be conducted, which was granted. It is now 6 weeks later, and the Justice Minister has refused to release the funding to complete the autopsies. The attorney for the orphanage, also is the attorney for the Palace, by coincidence. He met privately with the parents, and admitted guilt. He offered to give the parents money to buy a new outfit for the funeral in exchange for signing the release of the bodies. He then offered to meet up again, to see what the orphanage owner would be willing to give for them to “move on with their lives.” He suggested $50 or $100. Many of the parents felt disrespected, and offended by the thought of their baby being reduced to a $100 price tag!
The parents are not in a position to pay for the cost of an autopsy, and have asked me to reach out for help. We have estimated the cost to be $2000 per autopsy. For this reason, we are hoping to raise $40,000. We are very transparent, and plan to make everything public, as we are fighting against the hidden corruption that has paralyzed economic development in Haiti, and caused so much suffering.
This is an incredible tragedy, and we are working hard to prevent this from happening again. Our desire is to completely audit these orphanages, and lobby for stiffer regulations so that vulnerable children do not suffer another tragedy like this. They have already suffered enough. In the meantime, we believe the extreme corruption in Haiti needs to be exposed and people need to be held accountable. Six weeks is too long to wait for an autopsy. I spoke with famous pathologist, Dr. Cyril Wecht this week about the situation to ask for advice. He said this was beyond barbaric, and in all his years, he has never heard of a government withholding very important autopsies. Of course the US Ambassador Sisson is aware of the situation, and has offered no assistance. Something fishy is going on and it is being hidden from the public. These autopsies are the only way to get justice for these victims. We need help to do this! Please help the victims’ families, so that their children will not have died in vain. They are angels and have forced us to have the difficult conversation about this corrupt business that is exploiting children.
Please help us in any amount possible to help the parents move on in peace. www.icras8.com (http://www.icras8.com/)
Un orphelinat / foyer de groupe en Haïti, ravagé par un incendie meurtrier le 13 février, a été lié à un «culte» connu pour les magasins d’antiquités haut de gamme de New York.
Ce moyen est très sensible au facteur temps. Je m’appelle Valerie Dirksen, je suis défenseur des enfants et président de l’International Children’s Rights Advocates Society, qui est basée en Géorgie. Je travaille en Haïti pour défendre un groupe d’orphelins qui ont été agressés par un Américain qui dirigeait un orphelinat sans licence depuis plus de 30 ans, avec le soutien d’étrangers apparemment sans méfiance. Nous avons pu obtenir un mandat d’arrêt et un mandat d’arrêt Red Interpol, mais il reste libre même après qu’Interpol l’ait ramassé en République démocratique du Congo où il dirigeait un foyer pour enfants avec principalement des enfants réfugiés haïtiens.
Un de mes défenseurs des enfants en Haïti m’a contacté le 15 février pour m’informer d’un incendie dans un orphelinat à Fermathe, Haïti. Il était préoccupé par le fait que les médias n’avaient pas correctement signalé les victimes. Il était principalement préoccupé par 4 tout-petits qui se trouvaient à la clinique et qui avaient été gravement brûlés. Il m’a supplié de faire quelque chose rapidement, car il avait peur qu’ils ne le fassent pas. Le camion de pompiers a mis plus de 90 minutes pour se rendre à la maison et n’avait pas assez d’eau, alors ils ont dû y retourner pour en avoir plus. De plus, les enfants auraient survécu à l’incendie, mais sont morts à la mission Baptiste parce qu’il n’y avait pas d’oxygène. Il y a eu différents rapports sur le chaos cette nuit-là.
J’ai immédiatement contacté mes avocats en Haïti qui sont allés à la maison et j’ai rencontré plusieurs personnes familières avec l’incendie. Les avocats ont été choqués par la maison et ce qu’ils ont vu dans l’orphelinat.
De plus, l’orphelinat n’avait pas de licence depuis 2013. Ils doivent s’inscrire auprès de l’ambassade des États-Unis et de l’Institut de la protection sociale et de la recherche (IBESR). Les inspecteurs haïtiens ont reproché au groupe la surpopulation, les conditions insalubres et le manque de personnel adéquatement formé. L’IBESR a initialement indiqué que le bâtiment abritait 66 enfants, et il a été signalé qu’un seul adulte se trouvait sur la propriété. L’incendie fait toujours l’objet d’une enquête et de nombreuses questions restent sans réponse.
Le foyer de groupe fonctionnait en Haïti depuis 1977 par l’Église de la compréhension biblique à Scranton, en Pennsylvanie. Selon leur site Web, ils prétendent opérer à New York, en Floride et en Californie. Le groupe gère deux foyers pour près de 200 enfants en Haïti dans le cadre d’un «programme de formation chrétienne». Le groupe a déclaré un chiffre d’affaires de 6,5 millions de dollars. Et des dépenses de 2,2 millions de dollars en 2017.
Seuls 35 orphelinats sur 754 répondent aux normes d’exploitation. Les conditions à la maison étaient déplorables et inquiétantes. Plus de 25 000 enfants vivent dans ces foyers de groupe. Les foyers sont souvent appelés orphelinats, mais plus de 80% des enfants ont des parents qui peuvent vivre à proximité. En raison de l’extrême pauvreté en Haïti, la plupart vivant avec moins de 3 dollars par jour, les familles n’ont pas les moyens de s’occuper de leurs enfants. Et ce malgré les 20 milliards de dollars. En aide envoyée à Haïti depuis le tremblement de terre.
Souvent, ils placent leurs enfants dans ces foyers de groupe avec peu de réglementation gouvernementale dans l’espoir qu’ils seront éduqués et auront une vie meilleure.
L’industrie des orphelinats en Haïti se porte bien et a été estimée à 3,27 milliards de dollars. La traite des êtres humains est connue pour se produire dans ces maisons, et elle a essentiellement provoqué une crise de santé publique. L’argent impliqué a conduit à une corruption extrême, et nous tenons la directrice de l’IBESR, Madame Villadroin, criminellement négligente pour avoir laissé cet incendie se produire. Nous tenons également l’Ambassade des États-Unis responsable de l’autorisation de 6,6 millions de dollars. entreprise à opérer dans de telles conditions déplorables, sans licence.
La première audience pour le directeur de l’orphelinat a été reportée car le directeur était revenu aux États-Unis. Il n’a pas été reporté. Nous avons déposé une requête au nom des victimes, demandant la réalisation d’autopsies, qui a été accordée. C’est maintenant 6 semaines plus tard, et le ministre de la Justice a refusé de débloquer le financement pour terminer les autopsies. L’avocat de l’orphelinat, est également l’avocat du Palais, par hasard. Il a rencontré en privé les parents et a reconnu sa culpabilité. Il a offert de donner de l’argent aux parents pour acheter une nouvelle tenue pour les funérailles en échange de la signature de la libération des corps. Il a ensuite proposé de se rencontrer à nouveau, pour voir ce que le propriétaire de l’orphelinat serait prêt à leur donner pour «continuer leur vie». Il a suggéré 50 $ ou 100 $. Beaucoup de parents se sentaient irrespectueux et offensés par l’idée que leur bébé soit réduit à un prix de 100 $!
Les parents ne sont pas en mesure de payer le coût d’une autopsie et m’ont demandé de demander de l’aide. Nous avons estimé le coût à 2 000 $ par autopsie. Pour cette raison, nous espérons recueillir 40 000 $. Nous sommes très transparents et prévoyons de tout rendre public, car nous luttons contre la corruption cachée qui a paralysé le développement économique d’Haïti et causé tant de souffrances.
C’est une tragédie incroyable, et nous travaillons dur pour empêcher que cela ne se reproduise. Notre souhait est d’auditer complètement ces orphelinats et de faire pression pour une réglementation plus stricte afin que les enfants vulnérables ne souffrent pas d’une autre tragédie comme celle-ci. Ils ont déjà suffisamment souffert
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Michael Geilenfeld – Accused Serial Pedophile
By Speak Project | Oct 22, 2019, | Valerie Dirksen: Haiti Frontlines
In orphanages, a Brother-Predator caused Mayhem in Haiti under the guise of goodwill
By Valerie G. Dirksen*
SPECIAL TO HO—The first American Brother with the Missionaries of Charity claims he devoted his life to helping the poorest of the poor in the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, Haiti. The stories he shared about life in Haiti with the world could bring even the hardest heart to tears. “Bring me the street children, the ones no one else wants. We want to teach them they are special and loved,” he would say. Through the years, boys came and went through the program, some even died in his care. The boys were taught to dance, sing and perform. They were even taught karate so they could fight each other to entertain visitors. Several months a year, the group toured in the United States and Canada to raise funds, thus missing school. He convinced everyone this was “therapy” for the broken boys. The brother’s stories always pulled at the heartstrings, and the boys performed their hearts out. One dance, called “the shoe shine,” depicted a Haitian man in a purple suit, smoking and refusing to pay the poor boy who was in rags. The police came and threaten to take the boy to jail. The audience always became engaged, and sadly, this is the vision most foreigners now have about Haitians.
The brother claimed he was raising cultural awareness about Haiti. After the show, the brother asked for a freewill donation. Emotional patrons, having just witnessed the greatest underdog-to-success story, were always quick to take out their wallets and checkbooks to put something in the baskets. Some were known to write checks for thousands of dollars, and many $100 bills made it into the baskets. And, the audience was told: “100% of every donation goes to the children of Haiti.”
Michael Geilenfeld – Founder of “Maison Saint-Joseph” orphanage in Port-au-Prince, in 1985
Sadly, life at the homes, really orphanages, is anything but the loving story the brother tells. In fact, throughout the years, different groups of boys have reached out to the authorities for help. They reported of being sexually, emotionally and physically abused by the self-proclaimed “Ange Michel” – and what an angel! These boys, who are orphaned or abandoned, don’t have parents to whom to talk. Due to the control and power that this brother had in a country like Haiti, it was very dangerous for the victims to report anything. Besides that, the brother tells everyone that Haitians are “liars, cheaters and stealers who have learned their tricks on the streets of Haiti and they are just manipulative.” In fact, that is a description that could be used to describe the brother himself. Sadly, even neighbors and friends turn on the victims, and accuse them of causing problems. Such is the reality of this dirty secret in Haiti — which is no longer secret.
The victims have shared their stories with priests, pastors, doctors and teachers and even with the U.S. Embassy. Some have made formal accusations to Marie-Carmel DeJean, the former head of “Institut du Bienêtre social et Recherches” (French acronym IBESR), a Haitian government organization offering children protective services. Even Catholic Archbishop Wilton Daniel, formerly from Atlanta, now in Washington, responsible for the church sex abuse scandals, has known about this situation since 2003. All these people have done nothing to help the victims seek justice and healing. One victim said, “After telling 12 visitors what was really happening at the house, and he told me I was lucky to be there, with a roof over my head, I decided to focus on my studies, because no one cared about our
All told, 10 times, over 30 years, the boys have gone to the authorities with their complaints. Madame Arielle Jeanty Villadrouin, the current IBESR director, conducted an investigation in January 2014, closed the home at Delmas 91 for minors, and refused to license it. Not long after that, Instruction Judge Al Dunel Dimanche ordered that the brother be jailed. In October 2014, he was arrested and spent 237 days in the Port-au-Prince National Penitentiary. You’ve probably heard about him: Michael K. Geilenfeld.
On his release, he went to the United States but by July 2015, he was back in Haiti. In October 2015, the Chief Government Prosecutor, Ocnam Daméus, and Attorney General Jean Roody Ali issued a search warrant and discovered minors at the home at Delmas 91. Authorities found three minors coming home from school. After interviewing several victims, an arrest warrant was issued. The warrant, signed by Magistrate Judge Abner Emile, led to the issuance of a “Red Interpol alert” arrest warrant for the brother. Rather than face the charges, Geilenfeld fled Haiti and went to Anamuya, north of Punta Cana, in the Dominican Republic, to join his man/wife, Brunel Ezra, who had opened a home for children there sometime after he fled Haiti.
Reportedly, this Brunel Ezra has a long history of trouble with the law. Not only did he stab a minor in the chest but on January 29, 2014, he had shot Haitian rapper O’Gun in the face at the Kinam Hotel in Pétion-Ville and fled to the Dominican Republic. Those at the Anamuya home, called “Casa de los Rios,” appear to be children of Haitian refugees and the operation is funded by organizations in the U.S. and possibly Canada. Several fundraising websites connected to the brother continue to operate and mention is made to the homes in Haiti, but nothing is said about the brother’s legal troubles or his business in the Dominican Republic.
Meanwhile, authorities in the Dominican Republic have reported a major problem of organ trafficking going on in the country, with Haitian refugees being among the prime suspects. Additionally, it should be pointed out that the unlicensed Anamuya orphanage doubles up as a guesthouse. Based on what is known about the visitors to the Haitian homes, one can imagine what’s happening at Anamuya.
In April of this year, based on the “Red Interpol Alert,” Dominican law enforcement apprehended Michael Geilenfeld in Higuey. Considering that he was in violation of the U.S. Protect Act of 2003, the Dominican officials alerted U.S. law enforcement about his arrest. They waited two weeks for the American authorities to pick him up. Whereupon, Dominican law enforcement escorted him to New York John F. Kennedy international airport where his lawyer was waiting for him. Moreover, the Dominican Republic issued a “Blue Interpol Alert.” Even with two Interpol alerts targeting him, the brother continues with his fundraising activities in the United States.
The US Justice Department is well aware of the brother’s dossier, including the twenty sworn testimonies that have been filed at the Office of Protection of Minors, a branch of Haiti’s Central Directorate of the Judiciary Police (French acronym DCPJ). Definitely, the wheels of justice have been more than slow on this case.
Haitian and Dominican officials don’t want Michael Geinlenfeld back on the island of Hispaniola. Yet, he continues with his fundraising activities, and his homes, or so-called orphanages, are still open for business under the name of St. Joseph family. One always hears about what’s wrong with Haiti. But, here is something that is very right about Haiti. In October 2015, the Haitian justice system managed to issue an arrest warrant for rape, sexual aggression and abuse of title against Michael Geilenfeld and it is in force for 10 years, with expiration on October 28, 2025. The young men whose testimonies resulted in this judicial warrant are an inspiration to victims of predators everywhere. Despite several roadblocks, they continued to fight courageously for justice to be done.
Predator Geilenfeld will be looking over his shoulder for the next six years, unless justice nabs him before then. Sadly, he is not the only one preying on Haitian children. As mentioned previously, orphanages double as guesthouses for visiting volunteers. Foreigners love photo ops with the poor. It appeals to their egos. This is missionary tourism and Haiti is full of such tourists and the cases of several of these missionary tourists have reached U.S. courts where some have received stiff prison sentences.
Stories of abuse at orphanages are very common. From Daniel Pye in Jacmel, Father John Duarte of Cap-Haitian and Pétion-Ville, Father Marc Boisvertin Les Cayes, Bob Valerius in Cap Haitian, Michael Brewer in Tabarre, Father Mathew Andrew Carter in Croix des Bouquets, Father Ron Voss in Port-au-Prince and Doug Perlitz in Cap-Haitian, these predators got the message that Haiti was open for business. Many are connected to the North American Man Boy Love Association (NAMBLA), which advocates for lowering the age of consent for consensual sex.
This is a public health crisis throughout the Caribbean. It is multi-generational and has had damaging effects on society. Victims need help to heal from the invisible scars that are as real as scars from a machete blow. In fact, some psychological experts suggest that the invisible scars are even deeper and more painful. Without treatment, they will negatively affect certain individuals during a lifetime.
The victims demand justice. They are protected by Haitian laws and the Haitian Constitution. There should be outrage in the land, the first free Black Republic in the Western Hemisphere and only successful slave revolt in the world! Haitians, your children are being victimized. You should be silent no more. Children, the future of every nation, are especially more vulnerable in a poor country like Haiti. For example, in February 2017, there was a sex trafficking bust at the Kaliko Beach Resort, north of Port-au- Prince. The American predators were allowed to leave without being charged while their Haitian accomplices were arrested. But, nothing has been heard of the case ever since.
A small group of volunteer advocates at the International Children’s Rights Advocate’s Society has worked tirelessly with Haitian psychologist Wilcox To-yo, MD, to raise awareness and help these victims move from their victim status to that of survivor. Salon Haïtien Santé Men-tale et du Bien-Ȇtre will be holding an “International Scientific Symposium,” October 5th and 6th at the Hotel Oasis in Pétion-Ville. The theme this year is “Children, Women and Mental Health in Haiti.” For additional information, call (509) 2209- 6838 and 3474-7414 in Haiti or 678-313-8437 in the U.S. We are looking for sponsors to help with this very important national dialogue.
“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere,” said Martin Luther King Jr., adding, “We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.” These words are as true today as they were when he wrote them from a jail cell in Birmingham, Alabama, in 1963. We need to continue Dr. King’s legacy. We all have a responsibility to help the vulnerable in society, including the young, the elderly and the physically challenged. A dialogue must be opened on the unspeakable problem of sexual victimization going on in so-called orphanages in Haiti. As it is said, if you are not part of the solution, you are part of the problem. Acting on what we believe is right; we should all be part of the solution.
There’s none so blind as those who will not see, and none so deaf as those who will not hear
By Speak Project | Nov 18, 2019, | Valerie Dirksen: Haiti Frontlines
In September and October, I wrote about my work in Haiti based on my experiences advocating for a group of victims of a serial predator who had been accused over 10 times in thirty years of abusing the orphans in his care. My phone has been ringing off the wall from people who have heard of this at other orphanages in Haiti. They have told me they tried to bring this to the authorities and humanitarian groups, including the United Nations. They were amazed we had been successful at obtaining an arrest warrant and red interpol arrest warrant for rape, sexual agression and abuse of title. They felt encouraged that a new day had arrived in Haiti, and better days were ahead.
I have also written about the organ trafficking happening in the world. As such a lucrative business with annual profits up to $1.2 billion, and the fact that most Haitians are O+ Blood type which is the most universal, no wonder why the Haitian government has decided Haiti is “Open for Business”… exploiting those who have no way of supporting themselves or their family. Is this a business Haiti wants to be known for? Human trafficking and drug traffickers?
Let’s talk about another topic that is relevant to this problem for children in Haiti. The restavek is a child in Haiti who has been sent by their parents to work for a host household as a domestic servant because their parents lack the resources needed to support the child. Parents may send their children to live with wealthier (or less poor) families who are often their own relatives or friends. The children, usually from rural areas, are sent to live in more urban settings. This proposition is that the child will be able to have food and housing and sometimes an opportunity for education, in exchange for doing housework. In reality, these children live in poverty, usually do not receive an education, and are in grave risk of physical, emotional and sexual abuse. Everyone knows this, but find the topic difficult to discuss or find possible solutions for.
How is this permitted in the first free black nation? The only successful slave revolt in history in 1804? For some reason, the restavek system is tolerated in Haitian culture. Haiti has the largest group of NGOs on the planet, but yet they look the other way at this practice meeting formal international definitions of modern day slavery and child trafficking. Conservative estimates show children currently being used as a restavek numbering 300,000 plus! Child Domestic Workers in Haiti are defined as 1) living away from parents home; 2) not following normal progression in education and 3) working more than other children. this number is more than 500,000! One in four children aged 5-17 currently live away from their biological parents, Sadly, almost three-quarters of these children are girls.
As poverty and political turmoil rises, the reported number of restaveks continues to increase dramatically. All the displacement from the earthquake, and the constant political turmoil, has caused many more children to become restaveks. One Haitian orphanage operator in Kenskoff has thirteen children he helps with very minimal outside help. He recently told me there is a need to open his home to more, but he is sad that he does not have the funding or resources. As a result, these young children, some as young as three years of age, are forced to fend for themselves, by begging on the street, cleaning windows, or falling prey to predators. This scenario has to change.
The best place for a child is with their parents. Members of the international community have talked about addressing the root cause of child servitude for years. There are many “humanitarians” who regularly visit Haiti, and hang out in the Marriott and convene panels, or forums or conferences. They have bracelets, and t-shirts, and nice lunches, but they do nothing to address the problem. These events appear to be self serving, and amount to little more than a field trip to stay at a nice hotel and have a great Haitian meal. So what is the answer? Improving the economy through substantial economic development is the first step. A parent who is gainfully employed, would be able to afford to support their child. These same parents would not be as easily pressured by recruiters to hand their children over to become restaveks if they were able to maintain a home.
One NGO after another who makes their mission to work on behalf of Restavek children have typically focused on raising awareness, engaging host families, encouraging education and a variety of short-term solutions. This is not enough.
One cannot ignore the protests that have been going on since last June. The unarmed youth have taken to the streets. They are tired and have decided their future will be decided by this moment in time, and they want to be on the right side of the issue. They are unarmed, and have been using any means necessary, which some may describe as “guerilla warfare”. They are standing up to sharp shooters, with the best weapons. They are standing up to police who have been trained in military tactics. This week, a Haitian born man arrived at the airport in PAP loaded down with military assault weapons. Whoever packed for him, left a note on some of the rifles, saying “good luck Colonel”. Good luck with what…killing unarmed student protestors? Haitian police said last week that they had arrested a passenger who had three gun cases in his possession. What would cause Jacques Yves Seastien Duroseau, 33, a former US Marine to fly from New Bern, NC to PAP? He had weapons and ammunition. How could he be able to travel commercial airlines with these weapons? What was his mission? What would he need guns including two Uzis and a 45 caliber pistol for? If in fact the weapons were Uzis, they would be considered fully automatic and would be considered illegal to own in the US. This person was caught in the act, but how many go undetected? There are a lot of questions, with few answers, and the international media remains silent to these reports, leading to more speculation as to who is causing the media freeze, and why?
Federal law permits passengers to travel with unloaded firearms as checked baggage as long as they are locked and in a hard-sided container. The traveler is also required to declare the weapons and/or ammunition to the airlines at check-in. With Haiti under a US arms embargo, importing guns into the country without authorization from the Haitian National Police is illegal. The country is full of illegal arms. Social media is full of videos that show gangs engaging in shootouts with assault weapons. Meanwhile, the average Haitian is unarmed, and not able to protect their family.
Since Mr. Duroseau held an American passport, the Embassy Security Officer, was sent to the airport to meet with him. What is the Embassy involvement? What does Ambassador Sison know? What does Justice Minister Aly know? Is this going to be handled like the group former Prime Minister Ceant referred to as “mercenaries” and “terrorists” from the US on February 16th?
Attempts to reach out to the Moise administration and the US Ambassador to Haiti, Michele sison have fallen on deaf ears with no explanation. Like the mercenaries from February, this appears to also violate Haitian criminal procedure. In February, the Haitian administration dismissed the Prime Minister Ceant to settle the problem. What will they do this time, since there is no Prime Minister to dismiss?
Last time US Senator Marco Rubio flew to Haiti to meet with Haitian President Moise. At the time, Rubio called for the formation of a new government and the need for “good faith dialogue” and parliamentary elections scheduled for October”. So much for that idea. Neither of those things have occured, and Rubio’s twitter account tweets about Venezuela and Hong Kong and Bolivia…but is radio silent on Haiti. Interesting reaction given the fact that he wasted no time flying to Haiti in February, and has been close associates of former Martelly friend and Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe.
Haitians are protesting for a better life, better education, health care and jobs. The world should encourage them and respect the law. Helen Keller could hear and see the voices and actions of the student protestors, but yet, recent protests of the diaspora have only brought less than 500 people together to stand with their brothers and sisters in Haiti. Having spoken to many opposition leaders in Haiti, they always ask me, “why are the Diaspora not helping us. We have been robbed, and exploited and taken advantage of. It is time to unite, and close the chapter of being known as the most corrupt country in the world. Our children are watching, and we owe it to them.”
“Hear this, you foolish, and senseless people, who have eyes but do not see, who have ears but do not hear: Jeremiah 5:21. “L’Union fait la force” is a Haitian motto that led to the independence of Haiti. Indeed, in “Unity There’s Strength!” And, in three powerful words–“Liberty, Equality, Fraternity”– the Haitian Constitution affirms the essence of our bonding together for the wellbeing of all.
HAITI: IS IT TIME TO ACT YET?
Is there a way to truly understand the depth of the crisis in Haiti and get financial assistance directly to victims?
The island nation abutting the Dominican Republic is a devastated no man’s land, a haven for sex and drug traffickers and every perverse form of corruption in between, where billions of dollars of humanitarian aid never reached the people, where starvation, anarchy and desperation drives kids, teenagers and adults to the streets to fight for survival with homemade weapons and ravenous bellies.
“Haiti was always bad,” people are wont to say in decisive tones.
This week an orphanage located in Fermate, located in south Port-au-Prince, burned down. You may have heard about it. Mainstream reports include “unauthorized orphanage” in the title without explaining that the building in which just under two hundred children were trying to survive, had no electricity, running water or anything in the way of accommodations. The orphanage, one of several inadequate structures operating in deplorable conditions, presented one of very few options for children in need.
On Thursday, it took fire fighters 90 minutes to arrive at the scene. By that time many were already dying via asphyxiation. Inside, there was one door out.
Valerie Dirksen, a journalist who has worked diligently over the past several years to publicize Haiti’s plight and elicit help for its victims, is seemingly fighting a one-woman battle against corruption. In December, Dirksen asked Speak Project to help ensure the safe-keeping of several young people who had testified against accused pedophile mob-boss Michael Geilenfeld. She needed to fund their upkeep for another month, an upkeep that barely covered food and housing much less their safety, and she had completely run dry of funds to do so.
Dirksen reports that one of those whistleblowers lived at the orphanage in Fermate. She clarifies that children on the second floor had lit candles for light, starting the fire. Everyone on the second floor died, with the initial death toll totaling 20 children, not 13 or 15, as is being reported. Many more children were injured and died en route or in the clinic, also not reported.
“The conditions were squalid and the orphanage was closed down in 2013 but continued to operate. The non-profit reported collecting $2.5 mil last year and had two airplanes and reportedly received food from USAid to feed the poor,” said Dirksen on a call this morning.
Of course none of these funds reached the children.
“This is really a bad situation,” Dirksen emphasized.
The injured children have been moved to a clinic at the Baptiste mission which lacks the facilities or caregivers to treat burn victims. At least four of the fire victims are under age six and are burned over 80% of their body.
Dirksen is scrambling to get them transported to burn facility as soon as possible.
Prayers are in dire need. Please send what you can directly to Valerie Dirksen at:
See more about Dirksen and her work in the article just below.
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