It’s time to BREAK the cycle.

Preface:  I’m not attacking or judging any one person or organization, what I am doing is speaking out about a broken child and orphan care system here in Haiti.

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Respire Haiti Christian School starts in 3 weeks.  It’s a time of excitement but it’s also a time I dread a bit.  It is SO HARD having countless moms and dads come up to me asking if there’s room in our school, but even worse than that my heart breaks when it’s a 9 year old little girl.

This year we are adding more children than we have in 5 years. We will have 62 new students starting. They have come from all walks of life, in orphanages, just out of orphanages, restavek situations and just tough living situations. Many of these parents were on the verge of placing their kids in local orphanages because they run “the better schools.”  Over 22 of these new students are between the ages of 9 and 15 and have never been to school before. Some of them came over the summer and were ecstatic after they learned how to write their name. Imagine being 14 and not being able to write your name.

I’ll probably be crucified for saying this, but I feel like this is a pattern I’ve seen over and over again and I’ve been silent for too long.  And the Lord has been showing me, that in general, Silence in the face of oppression and injustice is the same as agreeing with it.  So, I’m speaking up, Haiti doesn’t need more orphanages or more white American Churches coming and building a nicer building than the majority of homes here in Haiti.

Haiti needs people that UNDERSTAND that families want and need to stay together (and even for you naysayers thinking, “Well, you didn’t meet this little girl or this family, she DIDNT WANT her daughter.”  TRUST ME.  I’ve been there and for ANYONE to play God and say a child is better off in their orphanage than with a parent (except in severe abuse cases) is absolutely horrifying.)  But this is a cycle, new churches or American missionaries come in to Haiti and perpetuate the cycle of keeping families apart by opening orphanages.  It’s a cycle of orphanages being supported by American churches and realizing the orphanage they were supporting is not all it’s cracked up to be (I get numerous emails every month from people all over Haiti about this- corruption, abuse, trafficking of children IN orphanages)

Over the summer our Mental Health Staff has had more than half a dozen incidents that could have resulted in a child being placed in an orphanage.  In fact, I’m being honest enough to say that would have been SO much easier to do that.  But instead, we counseled, we prayed, we talked and we made a plan with each parent or caregiver.  We enrolled some in afternoon school.  We made home visits, we visited places 5 hours from us.  We watched children with HIV be given up, we had parents drop their kids off at our clinic and run.  And we went after them.  We PURSUED them…taught them, loved them, WALKED WITH THEM in this crazy world.

To say that children here in Haiti are “orphaned” with NO parents or relatives or even the ability to have someone foster them, honestly, its crap  (and also the easy way out).  Even with children who have NO living relatives, we have had numerous successful cases of students being fostered and even adopted.  We are hoping to begin more Foster Care classes within our community in October. Last year, just in our school we had three moms (parents of students) that died in childbirth.  Within the tragedy, we are blessed to say that all 3 of those babies STAYED WITH THEIR FAMILIES.  With education, support, prayer and counseling they are healthy children now still WITH their families. (We also consequently started a Prenatal Education Program as well).

A few months ago I literally had a Haitian man that works with an organization here look at me and say,”America stopped having orphanages almost 100 years ago because IT DIDNT WORK, so why then do Christian Americans keep coming here to Haiti and implementing something that didn’t work for them in their own country?”

Mic drop.  Seriously.

I implore you to read this article by LUMOS.

70 MILLION dollars goes to supporting orphanages here in Haiti. (That could run OVER 450 Respire Haiti Christian Schools enrolling 230,000+ students).  70 MILLION dollars goes to keeping families apart.  And the longer they are supported the harder it is to reunite children with their parents or extended families.  The longer they are in an orphanage, no matter how nice the building is, how pretty the paint and playground is and no matter how many “Caregivers” are hired.  It’s Not A Family.  It’s already been PROVEN to Not be Healthy.  And it’s NOT what God asks us to do when He asks us to care for orphans (James 1:23) Why?  Because He has already shown us a better way.

Its like trying to smoke a prettier cigarette, on a prettier park bench outside.  There’s still a HUGE chance you will get cancer, no matter how pretty the cigarette is.  It’s DAMAGING.  This has already been proven!  The same is true for orphanages.  They have already proven to be DAMAGING to children.  So why continue to do the same thing and expect different results?

On top of all that, 80-90% of children in orphanages in Haiti HAVE PARENTS.  These are poverty orphans.  And I’m telling you by EXPERIENCE, not by some grandiose, “What If…” or by some completely out of the blue idea…but I’m TELLING YOU from experience that…with education, with counseling and with prayer, we have kept families together and reunited parents with their children.  Again, I’m not saying it’s easy, but it’s worth it and it’s the RIGHT thing to do.

Respire Haiti has been working on a Parenting Curriuculum that we hope to have finished this fall.  We hope to choose some groups around Haiti to help us Pilot it and then we hope to spread it for FREE to anyone and everyone who wants to use it.

Why?  Because this idea of putting children in orphanages is generational…it’s generational because some of these parents think they are doing the BEST thing they can for their child!  The orphanage can provide meals, a place to sleep and most important SCHOOL.

Why?  Because some of these mothers are young and don’t know another option.  They’ve been told they CANT, so they need someone to tell them they CAN.

By opening Respire Haiti Chrisitan School we have insured more children than we can count to stay with their families.  We have seen over a dozen children pulled out of orphanages because our school opened, we have seen families reunited and we have seen that this view becomes contagious.

Maybe this rant has upset you because you support or run an orphanage.  Maybe this blog makes you aggravated because it seems like I am criticizing or attacking others organizations or churches that support orphanages, I’m not, I am however trying to get us to reflect on this broken orphan care system in Haiti.  So, honestly ask yourself this question.

Would you want to give YOUR OWN child something that’s just ‘Good Enough’? Or would you want to give them the best?”

One of my good friends here visited an orphanage where they told her, “The kids have a great bond with their caregiver, she’s here two days on and off one day.”  And literally my friend said later, “Right because that’s normal.  My mom was MIA every 3rd day when I grew up too”

Whats happening is orphanages here in Haiti are continuing the generational problem of detachment with children, breaking families apart and sadly patting themselves on the back and having church groups come and visit with their “orphans.”

It has to stop.  It has to change.  This cycle has to break!  NO ONE is “saving” children in Haiti by opening or running an orphanage.  If anything, it’s perpetuating the cycle that Satan started with tearing families apart.

You want to know what changes Haiti?  Creating jobs.  Having safe and available health care.  Helping moms have healthy babies.  Giving children (and adults) a chance for EDUCATION.  And doing THIS with Jesus’ incredible power changes lives.  It changes the future for these children.

So please, think about it.  Break the cycle.

Close an orphanage.  Reunite families.  Open a school.  I’ll get you a list of 300+ kids here in Gressier, Haiti who are waiting.

8 thoughts on “It’s time to BREAK the cycle.

  1. Well said. From God’s heart…
    May these words ring true in the minds and hearts of all who read this.
    “Close an orphanage. Build a school. Reunite families. Educate.” Profound, life-affirming, life-changing, truths.
    Press on Megan. God bless you, your family, and His work on Bellevue mountain.
    SuAnne

  2. Amen and amen!!! We’ve seen this in every region where we’ve worked. It’s so much better to help families stay together; equip parents/caretakers to have the skills needed to care for their families; create jobs; Educate. Thank you for realizing this in Haiti! It’s what we are committed to in Burundi.

  3. Amen, Megan. Seving as a foster and adoptive family in the US I can say that these children love their parents and if they can get the support they need to stay together it is BEST for them (and the parents–I cannot imagine being faced with the horror of having to make that kind of choice for one of my children) we hosted some children from the Daraja Childrens Choir and we felt called to sponsor 2 Haitian children through graduation so they could stay with their families while receiving an education so they could help their communities and take care of their families. What we learned from the kids we hosted is that they do not want to come to the US..they want to get an education so they can improve their own communities. A little bit of our wealth shared to give another community opportunity, hope and ultimately, the Gospel. You are salt and light, Megan.

  4. First I want to say I am one of those missionaries that has been near proximately nine times we come we work a week two weeks feel good about what we did but until the day I met you your husband and your staff and could visually see what God has done through you that you have allowed yourself to follow what God wants .to trust in him and have the faith to step up and face down the evil people that do gods work and they run when the lion comes out there are some people that will chase the lion away and then there’s people like yourself Who will chase the lion right down into the pit then jump down in the pit and slay the lion and that my dear Meagan is you you are a lion slayer What ever negative feedback you get from this is only because they are only seeing with there eyes not their hearts For many years I came there and the things I saw I said well it’s the culture but then I met you and I read your book and I found it we are blind that these children are exploited and I thank God for you and your organization I wish there was more I could do at this time but I can’t God bless you your family your school and your mission and I hope to come back soon be able to see how much more has happening THANK YOU FOR YOUR COURAGE AND FAITH Sent from my iPhone

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  5. amen and amen and amen. There is SO MUCH i want to say on this, so much heartbreak and pain, so much broken-ness. THANK YOU for speaking truth. For pressing on and fighting for families. I could not agree with you more.

  6. God tells us to care for orphans, and, quite frankly, what this system does is CREATE them. And when these children are adopted out of their country into America you create CULTURAL orphans. You ensure that these children don’t know their parents, don’t know their language, don’t know their origins, don’t know their roots and their generational foundations, and you teach them that this is BEST for them. You teach them that YOU and what YOU desire for them is better than what God determined when He placed them in the womb of that other woman in that other country. Too many Christians think they can do a better job raising someone ELSE’S child and claim that is God’s desire for that child to be THEIRS. NO. No no no. Quit discounting God’s desire for these women and THEIR children. This is a colonialist mindset, not a GOD ONE.

  7. Very well said, Megan. I have dreamed of opening a free Adult Career Center for Haitians to learn trades so they can support their families and rebuild their country. My dream was to require that every graduate return home and train 5 others, and those five, once trained, train 5 more, and so on. Trades such as plumbing, electricity, construction of homes, roads, latrines, and more; teach to turn trash into treasures, i.e. old tires become shoes, bags, swings,… fill plastic bottles with dirt and build home walls, etc… Oh yes, I have a dream… I love what you are doing, and may God shower you and your team with blessings.

  8. Thank you for speaking up. Yes silence is the same as agreeing with oppression and injustice no matter where you live. And I think we are just on a learning curve. I am thankful for what you and so many others are doing in Haiti. The only thing I have to add is that in America we need so many more people to take action to meet the needs where we are. Families here are as broken as those in Haiti and we have the ability to help them without traveling too far and spending thousands of dollars for a trip. Just starting with our American children and teens. They need love, friendship, mentors, role models, and cheerleaders. They need to know that people love and care for them and that they can become all that God created them for. These kids and teens are in every part of town, so I hope that while we pray and give to foreign countries we use our physical bodies and our time to serve God here and now with our gifts and talents. So He may be glorified and He will say, “Well done, good and faithful servant.” (And if you don’t know where to start making a difference volunteer with schools, sport organizations, youth organizations, church). All children from every country are our future.

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