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Martha St Jean

Martha St Jean

Posted: February 9, 2010 12:16 PM

Haiti: What Really Matters

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Today, I woke up thinking of Haiti. I thought of the 33 children the ten American Baptists were trying to take out of the country. In trying to live out a Rudyard Kipling poem, these so-called "naïve" and "well-meaning" missionaries, have caused attention to shift away from what truly matters, the children, the thousands of Haitians in desperate need of aid and the reconstruction of Haiti.

This case can not be written off simply as a misunderstanding. Would anyone misunderstand the intent of ten people who tried to shepherd 33 children out of a Baptist church in Idaho to some promised land with a distorted idea of what salvation truly is?

Let me tell you what salvation for these children is: it is food, clothing, shelter, education, the potential for a chance at a good life, the promise of a new opportunity. One missionary, Laura Silsby wrote, "The mistake we made is we didn't understand additional paperwork was required," on a piece of paper which she slipped to journalists. Would she have misunderstood the situation in some town in Idaho? She knew what they were doing was not only wrong but foolish.

On January 29th I wrote:

The disconnection of these children from their families and the land all in the name of nobility can backfire in unimaginable ways. Now is the time for the re-staging of the adoption debate taking place, we must not only think of how can we "save" these children who needed help a long time before the earthquake hit but how can we invest in their futures so that they can develop in terms of human capital in an economy with so little financial capital.

Let's help these children and the Haitian people to a brighter future by not thinking we have to move them towards a hegemonic American ideal. To do that we must first let go of our long held paternalistic ideals and ideas.

 

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