No? Oh. Okay, forget I said anything.
I shared the story of my little sister, Tina, reuniting with her daughter last summer. The beauty and restoration found in their story defies my ability to describe beauty and restoration. Their story is only 20 years young, I believe there will be so much more to tell.
Later this summer, my sister and my niece will travel to Haiti together and I will be allowed the honor and privilege of meeting my 20 year old niece for the very first time. (Glass cage of emotion!) My wound-up-tight anticipation surrounding this quickly approaching day is akin to child-like excitement multiplied by one hundred bags of Pop-Rocks.
My niece was raised by a wonderful and caring family. She had all the benefits and gifts that love and family offer. We honor her adoption and respect her adoptive parents. We also thank God that they did not stand in the way of a reunion between my sister and her first born child. This is Tina's closure; the very beginning of it.
I received an email this week. It called on me to clarify that sometimes adoption is messy and hairy and difficult circumstances lead to the need for adoption. Additionally, first/birth moms cannot easily be "honored" and the stories cannot be told. I was asked to be careful about my call for truth in those circumstances. I was confused because I did not recall writing anything of the sort. I don't assume that every birth family connection can be kept and held close. I recognize that evil, sin, mental illness, and unimaginable horrors caused by all three can make sharing the entire story a very difficult, if not impossible, thing to do.
I do think know many, many more first families could be honored and trusted with photos and contact. I do know adoptive parents sometimes dishonor first families by withholding information. I do know that adoptive families occasionally decide things are evil that are really just cultural and that their lack of understanding of culture manifests itself in fearful responses. I do know that we fear what we do not understand. But is it an ALL or NOTHING situation? No. Of course not. I did not write or even imply that all stories can be shared openly with young children or even adolescent children. I don't presuppose that I know what is best for your child. I know that for my child, open, active, and lively discussion about adoption - about the pain, sorrow, loss, joy, and complexities of it all - is healthy and necessary.
I do think truth is important. Mature young adults deserve to be told their entire story if they wish to know it. Secrets cause darkness and whether inadvertently or by design, secrets result in much pain, resentment, and harm.
I had another kind lady write to say that I am going to discourage people from adopting by talking about the unethical practices going on in International Adoption. She said people will be afraid because of what I am sharing. My offical response to that is this: To oppose evil we must have an ongoing dedication to reality and to truth at all costs. Darkness cannot claim what Light does not surrender. Not talking about the issues has never been the answer. Nobody will convince me otherwise. I did not say, "Never adopt - never consider it". I did say, Be cautious, do a ton of research, care deeply about the rights of first families, avoid unethical practices, don't believe websites and fancy Jesus-speak.
I have so much more to say, but I sense that my emotions are running far too high to be writing very much on the topic right now. I sense that I need to be in a better place before I process these concerns and struggles on the interweb. I've had a front row seat to some pretty terrible stuff lately and I confess it is messing with my ability to be objective. Until I find my peace and my words, please consider the needs of most adoptees to know their heritage, to know their biology, to attempt to find peace with where they came from and who they are.
I believe that we are all children of the Most High God; that we are all "adopted" in our own right... But I know first hand that religious platitudes don't answer the deepest questions of our souls. God loves us, He calls us to Himself as His beloved children, but our imperfect and broken humanness (for which He sent His Son to die) sometimes needs to search for our place in The Story in ways that are far more complicated than a children's Bible song or any religious mantra.
I am expressing things that make some folks feel defensive, I recognize that. I am sorry that is the case but I believe that in order to be truthful with myself I need to be wrestling with a lot of these things and trying to live honestly in the difficult tension of this truth: Adoption can be redemptive and beautiful AND adoption can be painful and destructive. To claim it is all glory and all beauty is incredibly insensitive to those that have lost much.
Juxtaposition City. That's where I live.
~ ~ ~
Want to support a project highlighting a reunion? Check this out.
Support it here.
Links to previous posts on the topic:
1- First, Do No Harm
2- Isaac's Family, at Love is What You Do
After sending kids out the door this morning, I sat down for a cathartic little cry to accompany my coffee. It felt great. We are juggling such joyous and happy things while also carrying the weight of unjust and difficult things. We find ourselves trapped in a glass cage of emotion. Much (most) about life in Haiti is finding a way to live joyfully in the midst of that constant tension.
There is no escaping the fact that tragedy tries to trample on triumph. There is no denying that joy and sorrow are always dancing and intertwined in complex ways.
I suppose this 'glass cage' is mainly a weird manifestation of grief. The post (below) on grief rang true to me because a part of the sajoy (sad joy - that's a thing) we are feeling lately is due to getting ready for Paige's graduation celebration and the joining of many friends in two weeks.~ ~ ~
Excerpts below, find the full post HERE. (From Communicating Across Boundaries)Research shows that those of us who have grown up as third culture kids have layers on layers of loss.Dave Pollock, a man who arguably did more to understand the third culture kid experience than any other before his death, said this: “One of the major areas in working with TCKs is that of…dealing with the issue of unresolved grief. They are always leaving or being left. Relationships are short-lived.At the end of each school year, a certain number of the student body leaves, not just for the summer, but for good.It has to be up to the parent to provide a framework of support and careful understanding as the child learns to deal with this repetitive grief.”He ends the paragraph with these words:“Most TCKs go through more grief experiences by the time they are 20 than monocultural individuals do in a lifetime.”Grief is good. Grief is individual. Grief is rarely nicely organized. Grief is physical and emotional. Grief is culturally based. Laughter in the midst of grief is okay.
The World Needs Midwives Now More than Ever!
Over 287,000 women and over 3 million infants around the world die each year as a result of preventable pregnancy and childbirth complications. Most of these deaths would be prevented if there were enough qualified and adequately resourced midwives.
When mothers and newborns die, approximately US$15.5 billion in potential productivity is lost each year.
Universal access to a well-educated, regulated midwifery
workforce in a health system with adequate equipment and supplies could prevent up to 60% of maternal deaths.
To ensure universal coverage for maternity care an estimated 350,000 extra midwives are needed. Developed and developing countries both need better quality midwifery care.
~ ~ ~
Looking Back:In the spring of 2007, after a couple of years as friends, Beth McHoul invited me to come to a class being taught in Port au Prince by a visiting midwife. Beth was listening to her heart and following God's prompting on her life to pursue a dream of a prenatal program for women in the densely populated and under served area of Port au Prince. I came to that class as an escape from the village life, a change of pace, and to see my friend. I wasn't necessarily interested in midwifery, but I was curious enough to come to the class.
In mid 2008 we moved to Port-au-Prince and were given a front row seat to watch Beth's dream unfold. That year Heartline Ministries offered weekly education and basic prenatal care, as well as support and follow up education for the first twelve months of the the baby's life.
By late September of 2009, Heartline's Prenatal program began to offer a birth-center style delivery option for lower-risk births. We have the records from then and get a kick out of our haphazard notes from the very first birth. Suffice it to say, many, many hands and minds have helped to create the necessary paperwork and protocols and we now have a program that is both methodical and organized.
We would love to list each person that played a part in the evolution of the program but we fear we would miss someone. We are grateful to each and every one of you.
Currently the program serves approximately 45 pregnant women at a time, as one mother delivers a newly pregnant woman enters the program. The last few years since the earthquake have brought so much sorrow and joy as we have been honored and privileged to walk through tragedy and triumph with hundreds of Haitian women.
Our dreams for the future include a new maternity center, expansion in order to serve a larger number of women at once, and having an operating suite with the option to keep the ladies that need Cesarean Sections.
first official birth, September 2009first (only) *miraculous* emergency C/S - after earthquake, January 2010 -
this is one of the most amazing moments!first (planned for) high-risk birth, February 2011first ambulance birth, January 2013
We had no idea in 2007 that the first small gathering Beth planned would eventually lead to a full and well-rounded program offering prenatal care, labor and delivery services, and postpartum care. Each step of growth has taken place thanks to prayer and careful thought and planning, as well as some trial and error.
God has been faithful to slowly grow the program while providing amazing and brilliant women & men (midwives, nurse midwives, doctors, educators) to teach, guide, encourage, and steer as needed.
On this International Day of the Midwife we are so grateful to be where we are! We especially want to thank YOU ... Not a week goes by without a tangible moment of recognition for your part in this work. You help us more than you can possibly understand as you pray, give, and therefore honor , the incredible and tenacious women of Haiti.
Monthly post at A Life Overseas is published here.Want to talk about real courage? Check out Jimema and her twins.
Birth culture matters. Biological connections matter. Respecting and caring for the materially poor should matter a whole lot to each of us. Adoption can be beautiful and redemptive and even quite necessary at times. Discussion and dialog about the unethical things happening is hugely important - we cannot look away and pretend that ignoring the problems will make them go away. To oppose evil we must have an ongoing dedication to examining outcomes and reality (truth) at all cost. As a friend reminded us recently, truth requires truth-tellers.
Graphic courtesy of: Kate Dahlquist
by Yves Pierre-Louis (Haiti Liberte)
Since President Michel Martelly’s accession to power two years ago, corruption has become the hallmark of his regime. The State’s entire administration is in decline, marred by bribery, waste, mismanagement, illegal and arbitrary dismissals, and incompetence. The latest corruption scandal to erupt is in the National Insurance Office for the Elderly (ONA), Haiti’s social security institution which is supposed to manage the contributions of Haitian workers in the private sector to ensure their welfare as regulated by the Labor Code. This institution has been headed by Director General Bernard Degraff for over a year. Persistent accusations of corruption, mismanagement, illegal firings, and inappropriate employee transfers forced Senator Maxime Roumer, the President of the Senate’s Social Affairs Committee, to summon for a questioning Charles Jean-Jacques, the Minister of Social Affairs and Labor, as well as Degraff. After several postponements, finally the hearing took place in the Senate on Apr. 29. The hearing became very difficult for Bernard Degraff and his Special Advisor, Jean Robert Simonise. Sen. John Joel Joseph outlined the wholesale corruption, mismanagement, and wrongful dismissals his investigations have uncovered. He charged that Degraff has unilaterally increased his own monthly salary from 152,000 gourdes ($3,576) to 472,000 gourdes ($11,104) and that of Simonise from 190,000 gourdes ($4,470) to 351,270 gourdes ($8,264). These salaries far exceed that of the President of the Republic. Degraff also bought three Toyota Prado SUVs at $76,000 each, one for him, one for his assistant, and one for an advisor, which are registered and plated as private cars, not state vehicles. Degraff also paid $32,000 to make the vehicles bullet-proof. He bought another 40 vehicles with ONA money for employees who are close to him and those vehicles also do not bear State plates, but are private registered. Furthermore, Degraff bought an old house for ONA in Pétion-ville, without any bidding, for a whopping $ 2.5 million and then paid another $1 million to repair it. The worst is Minister Charles Jean-Jacques claimed that he was unaware of these fraudulent transactions, and in reports he submitted to the Parliament , there was no mention of these purchases. Meanwhile, former ONA employees who had been wrongly fired managed to get into the Parliament, and, with placards in hand, they called for the dismissal and arrest of Degraff . Some of the demonstrators even managed to slap Degraff as he left the Legislative Palace. Sen. Pierre Francky Exius proposed firing Degraff for corruption and embezzlement of state funds. This proposal was supported by several of his colleagues, including the Commission’s president, Sen. Roumer. Meanwhile, public school teachers continue to demonstrate for payment of several months of back wages, farmers are demanding water and fertilizer to increase their agricultural production, and people around the nation are demanding the construction of roads and public markets. Such corruption only adds fuel to the fires of demonstrations burning everywhere. Already, Martelly’s close advisor and cousin, hotelier and musician Richard Morse and Minister of Economy and Finance, Marie Carmelle Jean-Marie have resigned because of blatant corruption. Now, a group of citizens has started a petition entitled "Stop the abuses," which seeks to challenge parliamentarians to start impeachment proceedings against President Martelly.
ONA’s Director General Bernard Degraff stands accused illegally hiking his salary, buying private vehicles, and firing employees.
by the Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR)
This article reveals how Washington is still investing in Haiti’s military occupation, not winding it down. HL
In an Apr. 9 press release, DynCorp International announced that the U.S. State Department’s Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL) had awarded the company with a $48.6 million contract. The purpose of the contract is to “recruit and support up to 100 UNPOL and 10 U.N. Corrections Advisors. DI will also provide logistics support to the Haitian National Police (HNP) Academy and each academy class. In addition, DI will supply five high-level French and Haitian Creole speaking subject matter experts to advise senior HNP officials.” The contract was actually awarded to DynCorp a year ago, and the first funding through the award was given to DynCorp in November 2012 in the amount of $12.9 million. DynCorp is one of the largest government contractors, receiving well over $3 billion in 2012. As the company points out, its previous work in Haiti began in 2008 and involved the training of over 400 police officers. That work, part of the Haiti Stabilization Initiative, also entailed increasing the size of the U.N. military base in Cite Soleil. DynCorp, which continues to receive funds through that task order, has received over $23 million since 2008 for its work in Haiti. One of the primary tasks of the U.N. military mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) is to recruit and train members for the Haitian National Police, so that they could eventually take over for the foreign troops. With this latest contract, DynCorp has gone from training police to take over for MINUSTAH, to simply supplying troops directly to MINUSTAH. But the awarding of the contract to DynCorp is also problematic given the company’s terrible track record in the same exact program areas where they will now operate in Haiti. In Bosnia in the late 1990s, DynCorp was contracted by the State Department to provide “peacekeepers” for the UN police there, just as in Haiti now. One employee, Kathryn Bolkovac, was eventually fired after blowing the whistle to her superiors at DynCorp on the participation of her colleagues in sex trafficking, among other abuses. The case was the basis for the 2011 Hollywood movie, The Whistleblower. Unfortunately, these types of abuses have been all too common in Haiti since the arrival of UN troops in 2004. And similar to the situation in Bosnia, there have been only sporadic and piecemeal efforts to hold those responsible, accountable. Additionally, DynCorp has a history of waste, fraud and abuse, including under U.S. government contracts to provide police training in Afghanistan and Iraq, similar to their program in Haiti. In 2010, the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction issued a report which found that the State Department and DynCorp could not account for $1 billion dollars spent training the Iraq police. At the time, Senator Claire McCaskill (D-MO) said “[INL has]been managing this contract in Iraq since 2004 and, according to this report, they have no idea where any of the money went… What's even worse is that these are the same people responsible for police training in Afghanistan, so I don't have any confidence that they're doing a better job there.” Sure enough, in 2011 DynCorp was slammed by a joint audit from the State Department and Defense Department over their work training the Afghan police. It wasn’t the first time. Also In 2011, according to the Project on Government Oversight’s Contractor Misconduct Database, DynCorp paid $7.7 million to settle a False Claims Act lawsuit after a whistleblower alleged that the company had inflated claims under a “contract with the State Department to provide civilian police training in Iraq.”
DynCorp has gone from training police to take over for MINUSTAH, to simply supplying troops directly to MINUSTAH.
We moved to our house in the middle of 2008.
On May 1, 2009 we were not invited to the annual party. On that first of our May firsts as their neighbors, they loathed us, and the common air we breathed. I was once offended by that, but in hindsight we were (and ARE) quite unlikeable from a neighbor standpoint.
Who wants neighbors with tons of rowdy kids, a noisy gate, and a loud generator?
The answer is: Nobody
The better question is - What did we do to deserve to be liked by them now?
The answer is: I have no earthly idea. I don't even like us.
In 2010, there was a natural disaster that took away a lot more than that year's party.
In 2011 life had returned to "normal". We had bonded a bit, we were invited and we were in attendance. Every last one of us went. We remembered the music most:
"The party was in the backyard underneath swooping pigeons and florescent lights. When we walked in we were seated at a table similar to if we were at a restaurant. We tried to get up and mingle but they told us to sit. The music was loud and included Celine Dion, The Eagles, Aaron Neville, Chris DeBurgh, Elton John, and lots of Haitian Kompa. The Haitian Kompa made perfect sense. Chris deBurgh, and Lady in Red, not so much. As former peeps in "the biz" (to all the DJs in the crowd - holla!) Troy and I took copious notes about the play-list - should we ourselves ever attempt to host a culturally appropriate Par-Tay in our neighborhood we are ready to spin records with confidence."
Last year, on May 1, 2012 I was in a mood. I refused to walk the 14 steps next door and begged Troy to allow me a stay home and sulk pass. Troy went alone and sat at a table with some neighborhood kids while they marveled aloud for an extended period of time over the fact that Troy was having a beer. Their paradigm did not allow for a Jesus lover to have a beer. Troy blew their minds by eventually having two. They are still in counseling to this day.
The neighbors were not pleased that I did not attend last year. We have been verbally reprimanded a number of times in the last twelve months. We have been told that this year attendance is mandatory ... that makes it sound so FUN!
Here we are. May one. I dread going almost as much as I dread the fallout if I don't go. There is currently a first time mom in labor, but that excuse is not sufficient. Geronne just told me that the neighbors don't buy the birth of a child as an acceptable reason to miss the deep fried everything or the vocal stylings of Chris de Burgh. Priorities people!
I am not sure what I'll do when 8pm rolls around. If the birth of a child is insufficient, I am fresh out of excuses that top that.
Yesterday, a sweet new mom that delivered her little one last month, gave me a gift. I treasure this young woman and her generosity is truly touching. Even more touching than that though, her kind estimation of my butt size. She handed me a plastic bag and said, "a little gift, for you".
She wasn't kidding. It was little.
Inside the bag was an itsy bitsy tiny outfit for a person of half my size. I thanked her and told her I feared I was too large to wear her gift. "It stretch", she said with a smile.
We tested the "it stretch" theory when I got home yesterday, just for laughs. Suffice it to say, it not stretch enough.
Now you see, I'm stuck. I don't know how to use appropriate cultural sensitivity to get out of the party or the outfit.
No, really, this outfit is impossible to get out of.
Happy Labor Day everyone!
From Haiti, with love.
By Beverly Bell
Marjorie Valcelat ran an embroidery machine in a factory from 2005 to 2008. She says the experience made her so sick and weak that she’s not felt able to work since…
I'm surrounded by people with gargantuan physical needs ... Overwhelming and mind-numbing physical needs. Those immediate needs trump the still important but less pressing emotional, spiritual, and psychological needs.
Lately, I too am living in a perpetual state of need.
I feel the weight of corruption and depravity and injustice. It is cumbersome. I wake up in the morning lacking some of the hope I typically experience as the day begins. I am in need of peace.
Throughout the day I walk around muttering things to God. I guess they are prayers technically. They come out in short little pleas for mercy for those being hurt, for justice for those being exploited, for exposure of those doing harm, and for reparation for pain and sorrow caused. These little barky and desperate prayers, uttered throughout the day, serve to remind me - I am in need.
In need of graceIn need of loveIn need of mercy raining down from high aboveIn need of strength*In need of peace*In need of things that only You can give to meIn need of Christ, the perfect LambMy refuge strong, The great I AmThis is my songMy humble pleaI am your childI am in need
What about you? Are you in need?
Lydia writing songs about fear ...
I am way, way down with the lyricist on the "You don't have to - be afraid - cuz I'm with you" part. However, I question- "It doesn't matter when you're afraid."
It kind of matters, doesn't it?
I cannot possibly understand the intricate soul or mind of this tortured artist but I think "It doesn't matter" actually means, "It is not a problem for me because I am God and I will handle it if you allow it".
That is the plan. We will let Him handle it.
Friday morning, headed out to "Field day" at Heartline Academy.
Athletic looking clothing? Check. Dog that poses for photos? Check.
"You sure do love to tickle me, Mom ... You are the kind of mom that is more like a Dad."
After I asked, "Why are you wearing a sweatshirt?" She replied, "Do you see that blueness falling? That is because it is raining." (duh)
"Do I have to shower? - Awww, I do? I have a statement to make. I.don't.like.showering."
"I really wish I had an Irish accent like a Leprechaun. They sound so COOL."
"One day I'll be gone and you'll have no one to mock."
After being asked "What do you worry about buddy?" "Uh. Seriously? I worry about everything!"
Observing me putting anti-fungal cream on Phoebe, "She gets that rash at school. We should stop going to school." -Lydia
~ ~ ~
Our kids have just two weeks of school left in the 2012-2013 school year. After school ends they will have a couple weeks off before LOTS of friends and relatives fly to Haiti for Paige's graduation ceremony, one month from today. We're kind of very giddy about that. This is the first time we have had so many people coming to be with us at once. Then right after graduation, Jimmy and Becky and Abbi will head to TX and Chelsea arrives from TX to start the summer-school fun. So much excitement.
Last night Becky and Jimmy wrote to begin planning a "Senior Trip" for Paige. I fell asleep smiling at the choices she has for her senior trip and so grateful for the ways God has blessed Paige with special opportunities and relationships and gifts that she will carry with her for a lifetime. The youngest five are ever aware that their time with Paige in the same house is running short. They are taking turns sleeping in her room with her and getting their one-on-one time. Soon, I'm probably going to start taking a turn in that slumber-party rotation too. It is either that, or just sit nearby and stare at her every waking hour. It is just a question of which option is less creepy.
The Switzerland-based Martin Ennals Foundation and the City of Geneva have announced that Haitian human rights lawyer Mario Joseph of the Port-au-Prince-based International Lawyers Office (BAI) is one of three finalists for the Martin Ennals Award. Since 1993, the award is given annually by a jury of human rights organizations to “human rights defenders who have shown deep commitment and face great personal risk,” the foundation said in a press release. The aim of the award is to provide protection to the awardees through international recognition. Mario Joseph, recognized by many as Haiti's most important human rights lawyer, has worked on some of the most important cases in Haiti, including the current case against the former dictator Jean-Claude "Baby Doc" Duvalier. His family received asylum in the United States in 2004, but he chose to return to Haiti. He has faced threats and harassment for much of his 20 years as a lawyer, although it has intensified in recent months. “This recognition from the Ennals Award shines a vital spotlight on my work, and on the work of everyone who is fighting for human rights in Haiti,” Joseph said. “That spotlight will make our work safer and more effective." The other two finalists are Mona Seif in Egypt and the Joint Mobile Group in Chechnya. Seif is a core founder of the "No to Military Trials for Civilians", a grassroots initiative. Since Feb. 25, 2011, Mona has brought together activists, lawyers, and victims' families to start a nationwide movement against military trials. As part of the recent crackdown on freedom of speech in Egypt, she has been charged along with other human rights activists. Meanwhile, Igor Kalyapin started the Joint Mobile Group after the murder of several human rights activists working in Chechnya. To reduce risk, they send investigators on short missions to Chechnya to document human rights abuses. This information is then used to publicize these abuses and seek legal redress. The Martin Ennals Award for Human Rights Defenders (MEA) will be presented on Oct. 8 at a ceremony hosted by the City of Geneva. The award is made possible by a unique collaboration among ten of the world's leading human rights organizations to give protection to human rights defenders worldwide. The Jury is composed of the following organizations: Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, Human Rights First, International Federation for Human Rights, World Organisation Against Torture, Front Line Defenders, International Commission of Jurists, German Diakonie, International Service for Human Rights, and HURIDOCS. The prize also includes 20,000 Swiss Francs which the foundation specifies is “to be used for further work in the field of human rights.” Martin Ennals (1927 – 1991) was a British human rights activist who served as the Secretary-General of Amnesty International from 1968 to 1980.
The BAI’s Mario Joseph is a finalist for the world’s foremost human rights award.Photo by Kim Ives/Haïti Liberté
On Apr. 11, 2013, several popular organizations from the capital’s poor neighborhoods, grouped in a coalition called the Heads Together of Popular Organizations (Tèt kole òganizasyon popilè yo), marched in protest against Haiti’s high cost of living, hunger, and unemployment with the slogan “Let’s Rise Up Against This Exploitative Hunger” (“Ann leve kanpe kont grangou kaletèt sa" offers word-play on the slogan “Tètkale” – meaning “completely” or “bald” – of President Michel Martelly’s government.) Starting in the poor neighborhood of Fort National in the north of the capital, hundreds of demonstrators marched through Port-au-Prince’s streets to protest the deteriorating conditions of slum dwellers in Port-au-Prince’s poorest neighborhoods including Fort National, Bel Air, Saint-Martin, Solino , La Saline, Cité Soleil, and Martissant. Throughout the march, the protesters chanted that the government of Martelly and Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe is using false propaganda to lull the Haitian people out of their vigilance while manufacturing a series of fictitious projects to squander state funds. The demonstrators ridiculed a recent declaration by Martelly that he has already created 400,000 jobs in the country in the past two years. "If the government has created 400,000 jobs with a minimum wage of 300 gourdes per day for eight hours of work, that means that there should be 3.6 billion gourdes (US$83.76 million) circulating in the Haitian economy,” said one demonstrator. “We, the residents of poor neighborhoods, do not see any sign of that money. We say these 400,000 jobs are just talk." The demonstrators spray-painted slogans on walls along their route: "400,000 jobs are just talk! Up with good jobs! Down with Martelly! Down with hunger! Down with the high cost of living! Down with corruption!" Nobody gives credence to the President's statement. "The labor force in Haiti is currently estimated at 4.2 million people,” said the former Social Affairs Minister, economist Gerald Germain, in a radio program. “If the government created 400,000 jobs, unemployment would be reduced by 10%. The effects of this reduction in unemployment would be visible in the economy." Wilson Laleau, who acts as both the Minister of Trade and Industry and the Minister of Economy and Finance, has not been able to give any details about where and how the supposed 400,000 jobs announced by President Martelly have been created. “No matter what, Martelly and Lamothe have to go,” said another demonstrator. “They only tell the people lies while they fill their pockets and plunder the country. Martelly’s wife, his son, all of them are steeped in corruption, while the masses are dying of hunger in the country. We can’t pay for our children’s schooling. We can’t find work. They don’t want us to do commerce in the streets. We are crying for help! This is just the beginning. Next week, we’ll shift to a higher gear where it will be the regime’s complete uprooting that we will be demanding.” Haitian policement tried to seize the spray-paint cans of some demonstrators at the corner of Lamarre Street and Lalue. But the demonstrators quickly scattered and reassembled a short distance away to continue their march. After winding through several streets in Port-au-Prince’s densely populated neighborhoods, the demonstrators ended their protest in front of the Ministry of Social Affairs and Labor. Haiti’s poor continue to fight against the deterioration of their living conditions. Hundreds of thousands of earthquake victims made homeless by the January 2010 earthquake remain living under tents. UN soldiers still occupy the country. All state institutions are constantly in crisis. The democratization process is blocked. Elections are delayed, and the Electoral Council is being illegally and undemocratically established. Corruption is growing. The old Duvalierist regime is emerging more every day. All these trends have a negative impact on the lives of Haiti’s poorest. Tèt Kole continues to stand with the Haitian people in their struggle to stop these trends and build a better, brighter, more democratic future.
Sign reads: “Heads Together of Popular Organizations says the 400,000 new jobs are just talk.” Demonstrators marched through Port-au-Prince to denounce government demogagy. Photo by Frantz Etienne/Haïti Liberté
“The 400,000 jobs are just talk” and “Up with good jobs.” Slogans left on the walls where the Apr. 11 demonstration passed.
Photo by Frantz Etienne/Haïti Liberté
Representing a new Canadian vision for international development, the Canadian government recently announced that it is merging the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) with the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade (DFAIT). Shocked, critics decried that "Canada's international effort[i] to help people living in poverty" is unlikely to substantially address or mitigate global poverty or inequality if CIDA's priority is to "advance Canada's long-term prosperity and security". However, the Canadian government had already indicated that changes were coming. By freezing aid to Haiti, the Conservatives signalled what could be expected for Canadian development practice elsewhere.
Changes to the Canadian development agency were announced on March 21, 2013, when Finance Minister Jim Flaherty unveiled a new federal budget. An omnibus bill much like previous budgets that stripped environmental protections and laid the groundwork for a massive expansion of prisons, the so-called Economic Action Plan 2013[ii] included numerous non-financial clauses amidst the prescribed domestic austerity measures. Buried deep in the 433-page document in a chapter entitled "Supporting Families and Communities", the budget revealed that "the Government will amalgamate the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade and CIDA" in order to maximize economic opportunities for Canada. In a clarifying statement[iii] issued after the release of the budget, the Canadian Minister of International Cooperation, Julian Fantino, indicated that the decision would have no impact on Canada's international assistance budget, but CIDA as an entity would cease to exist. A new Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development would be created in its stead, co-directed[iv] by Fantino, Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird, and International Trade Minister Ed Fast.
Reaction to the demise of Canada's 45-year old development organization came quick. Numerous development organizations expressed concern that the changes might undermine Canada’s commitment to the world's most vulnerable people. "We risk losing the expertise, focus, effectiveness — and results — that CIDA staff brought to this goal”, argued Anthony Scoggins, Oxfam’s director of international programs, who lamented[v] that aid would "be driven by Canada’s self-interest in foreign policy, and the government’s economic and trade agenda rather than poverty alleviation.” The Canadian Council for International Co-operation likewise expressed concern that CIDA’s focus on poverty reduction and human rights would be “watered down” [vi] by the change. The Toronto Star, Canada's largest daily newspaper, extended the critique in an editorial[vii] lambasting the merger, questioning "whether the Conservatives intend to plunder the aid budget to help drum up business abroad rather than bankroll trade promotion in its own right as they ransack government operations for savings to help eliminate the deficit."
While the NGO sector feigned outrage at the announcement, not everyone was surprised. Julia Sanchez, President and CEO of the Canadian Council for International Cooperation, told the news website iPolitics that the absorption of CIDA into DFAIT had been rumoured[viii] for years. Noting that the move offered "clarity" to the Canadian strategy abroad, the head of Care Canada, Kevin McCort, spoke[ix] similarly, saying that “It wasn’t so much a shock as, ‘oh, they have done it’. The conversation has been going on for years.” Recently there had also been indicators that major changes could be expected. In November 2012, Fantino had articulated a new vision for CIDA. Speaking to the elite Economic Club of Canada, the Minister, who had previously been Ontario's Top Cop, introduced plans to have CIDA support Canadian international business interests rather than work with multilateral institutions and Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) as had previously been the norm. Following[x] the speech he told the Globe and Mail that;
“I find it very strange that people would not expect Canadian investments to also promote Canadian values, Canadian business, the Canadian economy, benefits for Canada. This is Canadian money. ... And Canadians are entitled to derive a benefit.”
Just over one month later Fantino revealed, in a tirade[xi] against Haitian efforts to rebuild, that he was moving forward with this vision.
Since the devastating earthquake in 2010 Haiti has been a showpiece of Canadian aid. Haiti is the largest recipient of Canadian development assistance in the hemisphere, and only the United States has allocated more money for the small Caribbean nation. In total, the Canadian government has committed more than $1 billion[xii] to Haiti since 2006. Yet earlier this year Fantino shocked Haitians and Canadians alike with an announcement[xiii] that Canada was cutting off the still-rebuilding country, placing all aid "on ice" until further review. Citing a lack of progress in the country, Fantino claimed in January that the aid was not getting results “that Canadians have a right to expect.” CIDA released a terse statement in response claiming that existing projects had not been frozen, but Haiti’s ambassador to Canada, Frantz Liautaud, noted that Fantino had not approved any new aid projects for Haiti since he took over the portfolio.
Fantino's Haiti announcement signalled that the Canadian government was moving forward with their overhaul of the aid system, but the model that the Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development was premised on had been applied in Haiti much earlier. Under the preceding Liberal government Canada had committed to using the so-called “3-D” approach to foreign affairs in Haiti, which was an attempt to integrate defence, diplomacy and development into one coherent policy approach (what the Conservatives now label as the "whole-of-government" approach). This approach helped enlist the development industry in the Canadian / American / French campaign against Haiti's president Jean-Bertrand Aristide. When the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development reviewed Canadian aid policies last year, the report urged Ottawa to continue following that model. It was recommended[xiv] that "Using [Haiti and Afghanistan] as an example, Canada should devise a whole-of-government approach to all of its development programmes." This is exactly what the Conservatives did.
There was speculation[xv] at the time of Fantino's announcement that the review of aid would be used to make room for Canadian capital investment. Buoyed by the Minister's November comments[xvi], many predicted that opportunities would be created for Canadian mining companies. Fantino had told the Economic Club;
"Canada's mining and extractive sector is a prime example of how a government agency like ours can partner with the private sector to advance global development objectives. This is a huge opportunity for both Canada and developing countries. Especially when you consider that almost one-third of the Toronto Stock Exchange Index is comprised of the natural resource sector. Canadian companies in the extractive sector account for almost half the mining activities in the world, and represent approximately 12 percent of Canada's direct investment abroad. These companies boost economic growth and provide high-value jobs to thousands of workers in Canada and around the world. CIDA is working to help the Canadian mining, oil and gas sector to partner in development with local governments and NGOs for mutual benefit.
Numerous Canadian mining companies were already taking advantage of the security and stability provided by the 10,000 UN peacekeepers stationed across Haiti - a force that has its origins in the 2004 Canadian-back coup against Haiti's democratically-elected president. This made Haiti well-suited to be the first place to implement Fantino's vision. It also helped that the failure of aid in Haiti could be invoked to support a new approach (even though less than half of 1% of all post-quake aid was directed to the Haitian government, weakening the state's capacity to rebuild).
Canadian government officials of all political stripes have long considered CIDA to be too independent and unresponsive to government priorities. Writing in the Globe and Mail, the career diplomat Colin Robertson noted that "In the development world there is a tendency towards moralism and a disdain for the urgencies of realpolitik."[xvii] Indicating a cross-partisan desire to make CIDA subservient to foreign policy objectives, Lloyd Axworthy, a prominent Liberal politician and former Minister of Foreign affairs, applauded[xviii] the decision to wither CIDA. "The move Thursday to end the independence of the Canadian International Development Agency and move its operations into the foreign ministry is one I strongly endorse", he wrote. "I compliment the government on taking this step." When he froze aid to Haiti, Fantino had made clear that his intent for aid in Haiti was that it created benefits for Canadians, exactly what Canadian government officials had long hoped for. The new Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development now does the same for all Canadian development projects.
Matthew Davidson is a graduate student at Trent University in Ontario, Canada, where he is studying the history of development in Haiti.
REFERENCES[i] http://www.acdi-cida.gc.ca/acdi-cida/acdi-cida.nsf/eng/NIC-5493749-HZK#mission [ii] http://www.budget.gc.ca/2013/doc/plan/chap3-5-eng.html [iii] http://www.acdi-cida.gc.ca/acdi-cida/acdi-cida.nsf/eng/NIC-5493749-HZK#mission [iv]http://www.ipolitics.ca/2013/03/21/adios-cida-hola-d-fat-d-development-body-looses-its-stand-along-status/ [v]http://www.thestar.com/news/canada/federalbudget/2013/03/21/federal_budget_2013_tories_fold_cida_into_foreign_affairs_department.html [vi]http://www.thestar.com/opinion/editorials/2013/03/24/federal_budget_2013_the_canadian_government_shouldnt_plunder_aid_to_promote_trade_editorial.html [vii]http://www.thestar.com/opinion/editorials/2013/03/24/federal_budget_2013_the_canadian_government_shouldnt_plunder_aid_to_promote_trade_editorial.html [viii]http://www.ipolitics.ca/2013/03/21/adios-cida-hola-d-fat-d-development-body-looses-its-stand-along-status/ [ix]http://www.thestar.com/news/world/2013/03/22/cida_merger_with_foreign_affairs_may_help_the_poor.html [x]http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/politics/fantino-defends-cidas-corporate-shift/article5950443/ [xi] http://rabble.ca/blogs/bloggers/roger-annis/2013/01/canadas-cuff-announcement-freezing-new-aid-haiti-harmful-and-prej [xii] http://www.acdi-cida.gc.ca/haiti-e [xiii]http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/politics/haiti-stunned-by-fantino-plan-to-freeze-aid/article6941946/ [xiv] http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2013/03/21/cida-closed-budget-2013_n_2926517.html [xv] http://www.defend.ht/politics/articles/international/3657-canada-freezes-aid-to-haiti [xvi] http://www.acdi-cida.gc.ca/acdi-cida/acdi-cida.nsf/eng/NAT-1123135713-Q8T [xvii]http://www.theglobeandmail.com/commentary/cida-move-not-radical-canada-is-just-playing-catch-up/article10165928/ [xviii]http://www.theglobeandmail.com/commentary/lloyd-axworthy-ending-cida-is-a-bold-and-admirable-move/article10163344/
J.R. asked if I'd write a piece for her site. I agreed. I am thankful to have been given a chance to share a small part of our on-going story. Troy and I and our kids are very blessed to be in an open-international-adoption situation and are happy to share a little bit about how that all came to be.
As followers of Jesus, if we are to pronounce just judgment, we’re going to have to be willing to examine some uncomfortable things and be less fearful of things we don’t understand. As followers of Jesus if we are to be guardians of the poor and afflicted, we’re going to have to ask harder questions and do more research. As followers of Jesus we should all want to complete adoptions where at the end we can say that the rights of the poor were maintained. Justice doesn’t come easily, but we should be willing to work for it.Find the full guest post HERE, at 'Love is What You Do'.
You may recall a post late last year about a beautiful woman named Jimema. During an ultrasound Melissa (a midwife) told her she was carrying twins. She sighed, smiled, shook her head and said "Oh Lord, I have twins at home too!" Jimema has only partial use of one of her hands and has already found a hundred ways to forge ahead and overcome challenges. From the very beginning she seemed prepared to take on this challenge too. Her peace and joy have been contagious. While my tendency would be to be very overwhelmed and nervous about twins, (a second set no less) Jimema seemed confident and unstressed.
At 36 weeks Jimema's twins needed to be born due to her rising blood pressure, but they missed the "turn head down" memorandum we sent them. Instead, a local partner hospital took them for a C-Section.
Now more than a week old, they have spent a week at Heartline's postpartum room getting acquainted and establishing solid milk supply and nursing techniques. Jimema will head home either today or tomorrow with her new baby girls. Please pray for this wonderful family as they adjust to the two newest family members.
This sideways video is from this weekend, thanks to midwife Rebecca for catching this tender moment.
Linking you to an- Important post on adoption ethics.
(I read this post more than a year ago and have thought of it multiple times. It is so well done.)
And speaking of regret ...
I know that relinquishing a child for adoption is a lifelong decision with lifelong ramifications for both parent and child. I am also aware that these decisions are being taken, daily, by disenfranchised women who have never had the opportunity to learn to read at all, let alone the opportunity to read birthmother blogs or longitudinal studies on transracial identity formation. From my position of privilege, I certainly hear some adoption stories where I think 'oh no, I wish that mother had decided to parent'. But here's the thing: It's not my decision. I'm not on that side of the wall. What makes an ethical adoption, in my opinion, is that mothers make their own decisions about placing their own children with no coercion and no manipulation from people who are getting something out of that decision.