I know it’s been a while since I’ve blogged but I chose to not discuss what has been going on with a project we have been working on for discretion purposes. The situation is almost resolved and within the next 2-3 days we will have helped save 65 girls from a very abusive orphanage run by local nuns. The problem that we are facing is that we are dealing with a church sponsored orphanage and the nuns have some type of political asylum for their actions. We have assembled an incredible team of locals and volunteers and soon the girls will be relocated and properly cared for. Here is what has happened so far.
On Thursday the 8th, we were contacted by the Israeli Flying Aid (IFA) team here on the ground and they told us about this orphanage. IFA had been working with this orphanage for several months since the earthquake and 4 weeks ago they had been asked to leave by the nuns. When IFA arrived the living conditions were squalid, all of the girls were severely malnourished, most of them had scabies and worms, there was no clean water, there was no sanitation, and their living quarters were filthy and overcrowded, and most of the girls were physically and mentally traumatized.
On the contrary the nuns were all overweight and constantly eating, their clothes were always clean, they each had their own bedroom and shared 3 bathrooms between the 8 of them, and they had no problems disciplining the girls.
At first IFA did not want to accept that the nuns were abusing the girls but after a short time they realized that these women were the source of the problem. For months they worked at the orphanage cleaning the place, providing medical treatment and generally trying to improve their living conditions. That was until 4 weeks ago when they were forced out by the nuns.
That is when the girls from IFA contacted MRMC and asked for our help. We met with them and once we were told of the situation we knew that we could not do this alone so I called up Marc Luben. Marc is a Haitian born, American raised man who has returned to Haiti to make his country a better place. He is retired special forces and now is a consultant to the highest officials here and has the ability to regulate on many matters to correct wrong doings. I knew we needed him in on this so we set a meeting for the 9th.
As we continued to talk with the IFA girls about the situation at hand, Lisa (IFA member) received a call that one of the girls had gone to the hospital the night before and died. This set off so many red flags because just 2 days prior that girl was healthy and normal. We ended our meeting short, Mike called his UNICEF rep, I put together a mini trauma bag and we all headed over to check on the girls.
When we arrived I was not surprised at what I saw. Sick little girls running around naked, 4 of the girls were doing all of the laundry, 2 of the nuns sleeping in their beds, an open water cistern that any of the girls could fall in and drown, a filthy outdoor kitchen, girls under the age of 3 laying on dirt floors, and the list goes on and on. We had the names of some of the girls that were currently sick and we immediately set out to find them in the crowd. While looking for the 4 sick girls we discovered that there were 3 others that had high fevers and needed immediate medical attention. I called Jen over at Medishare and she gave us the green light to bring them all over for exams. Thankfully there were 5 pediatricians at Medishare and they could see all of the girls.
After much negotiation between the UINICEF rep and the nuns they finally agreed to let us take 7 girls with us and send 2 nuns.
We got them to Medishare where all 7 were examined and given medicines. Most of them were pretty dehydrated but since they could tolerate drinking Pedialyte we gave them as much as they could drink. One of the girls had a pretty bad fungal infection on her head that had gone untreated and one had an abscess on her throat that had to be drained. All of the girls were seen, medications were sent home with them and the girls received some much-needed TLC.
All this happened on July 8th.
On Friday, July 9th, Medishare sent over 4 Pediatricians to help with the vaccinations that were being given to the girls. During their time their the doctors noticed that most of the girls had burns, cuts, and scars that can only be from being beaten and as a form of punishment. The doctors returned from the orphanage and wrote extensive reports on their findings for us to give to the authorities. They also brought 3 girls to the hospital that had developed high-grade fevers and the 1 girl who was admitted for further treatment because she had been there the day before and the nuns withheld her medications. When asked where the meds were at the nuns said that they could not find them. My personal opinion is that they sold the medications.
Saturday, July 10th, we worked on getting all of the reports together so we could present our findings to the government.
Sunday, July 11th, Marc set up meetings with Cabinet Members, Presidential Aides, and the Minister of Women’s Affairs. We informed all of them of our findings and asked for their help in this matter. They all agreed that something had to be done to protect the girls but it had to be done in a certain order since we are dealing with protected nuns. We had to be patient and go through the proper channels or we would not be able to help the girls.
Monday, July 12th. We were hoping to get the girls out yesterday but due to the observation of the 6 month anniversary of the earthquake everything came to a halt. Marc tried his best to get through to the decision makers but as you can imagine they were tied up with other matters.
So that leads us to today. Right now I am waiting to hear back from Marc concerning the extraction date. We have a wonderful orphanage run by Gerald and Junior Batai that is ready to receive them. Please note that this is not the same Gerald Batai that was recently featured in the Ney York Times. That guy is actually a fraud and is using the real Gerald’s name to try to get sponsors from the states. We have psych teams in place to start working with these girls and we are also going to be delivering food to Gerald’s place to make sure the girls are fed.
Here are some of the photos that Alan took of what has transpired since we’ve become involved. I will update everyone as soon as this is over and let you know what is going on.