Latrine Babies

Originally posted on Rollings in Haiti by Chris Rolling.

This crisis has really gotten to me and I’m having trouble putting thoughts together in a way that makes sense. I’m going to do my best, but please give me a little grace if I seem like I’m raving. I realize I’ve already gotten off to a bad start with my title “Latrine Babies”.

I haven’t been involved with orphanages very much. I have visited a number of them, have various missionary friends who run them and volunteered in a small one in Jamaica for about two weeks. Jamaica is of course very different from Haiti. By comparison with Haiti, Jamaica is a filthy rich country, although pit latrines are common in both. Jamaica is transitioning away from pit latrines to toilets as they progress towards becoming a first world country. Haiti still mostly uses latrines, although in the countryside it’s might be more prevalent for people to use bushes or banana fields.

At the orphanage I worked at in Jamaica there were two latrine babies –  as in, the mother decided for whatever reason to drop her baby down the latrine and leave it there. In Haiti the social and economic problems are far worse and latrine babies are much more common. I can’t say how many of them there are, but I once visited an orphanage here and mentioned about the two latrine babies in Jamaica. The response: “We get a lot of those.” I suspect they are very common indeed, although there aren’t statistics taken on that kind of thing here. I also shudder to think of how many latrine babies aren’t discovered and rescued or are suffocated before being discarded.

Babies are discarded for many reasons, but I believe the average mother would far rather give her baby up for adoption if she had that option.

The best way to deal with an excess of orphans is to have a healthy social and spiritual  environment and a vibrant economy. Any unwanted children are easily absorbed domestically. The United States and many other countries actually have more parents who want to adopt than orphans. Haiti is a long, long way from becoming socially or economically healthy. In the meantime, the first world nations are ideally situated to rescue orphans from a horrible situation. Why not do everything possible to make it work?

Well, according to Haiti’s prime minister, “There is organ trafficking for children and other persons also, because they need all types of organs.” I think if a statement like that is made then it should be backed up by data. For example, this number of orphans purportedly adopted by families in the United States were later killed when they had their orphans harvested. If anyone has actual statistics recognized by the UN or a first world government about illegal organ harvesting, whether for orphans or not, please share them in the comments. If nobody corrects me, I’m going to keep on believing that organ theft from live people is an urban legend. I have no doubt that it’s happened a few times, because the world is very big and this is 2010, but there if there is any trafficking in Haitian organs, the problem pales in comparison to that of the latrine babies.

Haiti’s Restavek problem could also begin to be ameliorated if more unwanted children were adopted into loving homes abroad. I have no doubt that the Haitian government’s rantings about a non-existent live-donor organ trade are partially to distract from Haiti’s very real child slavery.


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