My husband is in Florida. We talked on the phone this evening and tomorrow he will come to where we are to spend a few days with us before going back to Haiti. He said it feels strange to be there, to see so many people going about their normal lives as though the world had not fallen down. However, his cab driver was from Haiti and thanked him for helping out and a woman in a store, hearing where my husband had come from, teared up and said that a friend of hers was there and still had not been found. Florida is filled with people from Haiti and people with connections to Haiti.
Everyone keeps asking me what I think about those "American missionaries" who are in jail in Haiti tonight on kidnapping charges. Their story was the only thing about Haiti in the local paper today. I am furious at them for taking the focus off of where it should be: the suffering of the Haitian people and their incredible courage in the face of adversity. (No, adversity is too mild a word. Agony.)
Beyond that, I am willing to accept that these people had good motives. They probably really wanted to make life better for some Haitian children. On a good day in Haiti, you see kids you'd like to rescue. But you don't rescue them by luring them from their parents and taking them over the border without papers. You do things within the law.
I know for a fact that these people were advised that what they were doing was wrong. (Here is an article with some more information. And here's another - if you can't read all three pages of it, go to the main newspaper site and click on the link to the article.) So while I can't fault their desire to help kids, I do fault them for not listening to counsel from others. This is not a time for people to go have a madcap adventure - this is serious. We have to be wise. These are human beings and Haiti is a sovereign nation.
Perhaps I am being too vehement about this. I certainly do not wish prison on anyone, and particularly not prison in Haiti after an earthquake. I do not know all the details of what happened and I do not know the hearts of these people. I do know that having the words "missionaries" and "trafficking" in the same headline is not a good thing.
3 hours ago