Chaos in Haiti spurs neglect of rights

As the world scrambles to help the millions of Haitians still suffering from the after effects of the January earthquake, 10 Americans await their trial for attempting to transport 33 Haitian children to the
Dominican Republic.

According to the New York Times web site, the missionaries were charged with kidnapping and criminal association.

Some of the children found with the missionaries were said to have at least one living parent. Some of these parents were located, and told reporters that they did not intend to give their children up for adoption, but that the American missionaries promised the parents that the children would receive an educational opportunity.

The missionaries claimed that border officials agreed to allow them to return to Haiti the next day to collect the needed paperwork for the children they were attempting to transport.

Sadly, this story has become the center of attention for media outlets, which instead should be focusing their news coverage to the continuing efforts to rebuild this devastated country.

Though I will applaud this team of missionaries from a Baptist Church in Idaho, I just wish I understood why they thought they had the right to do this.

I understand that the Haitian people need all of the support and aid they can get, but since when has it been acceptable to round up 30 children, load them on a bus, and take them to another country without a second thought about contacting any remaining family members or even pursuing the correct procedures for transporting orphaned children?

There are so many ways that missionaries could be helping the children of this devastated country, or the country of Haiti in general.

The country is already in a state of chaos, and I feel it is irresponsible on the part of the missionaries to enter the country without a solid plan of action. If they had wanted to help the orphans in Haiti, they should have taken the steps to make sure they were doing it correctly.

The group, which included the pastor of the church, should have had enough combined common sense to consider the complicated nature of the situation. Though the missionaries may have felt that the Haitian children were better off that gives them no right to transport them without any sort of authorization.

According to the New York Times website, the missionaries did admit that they did not obtain the correct paperwork to allow them to transfer the children to the Dominican Republic.

Whether the country was in a state of disaster or not, the missionaries had no right to be transporting these children from their home city without some form of approval.

Sadly, this situation reminds me of the “American” viewpoint: that as Americans we are allowed to make decisions for others, because we know what is best for others, and that our way of life in this country is the only right way to be living.

Haitians live very different lives than Americans, and how did these missionaries know that bringing the children to the Dominican Republic would improve their lives?

In fact, according to a January 2010 article on, there is still a strong divide between the Dominican Republic and Haiti that has been continued throughout history due to many economic and social factors.

Though these children were in a dire situation in which they may have needed much attention, it seems ignorant that these missionaries validated their illegal behavior through the fact they felt they were doing a service to these children.

I am in no way saying that as a country we should not help the Haitian people in a time of crisis, but that we should respect the Haitian people by giving them the support they need to bring their country together and help one another.