Nonprofit Newswire | Haiti ‘Orphans’ All Had Parents

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February 22, 2010; Stuff | A little update on NPQ’s commentary regarding the American “missionaries” who went to Haiti to help children only to get arrested as they tried to take 33 orphans into the Dominican Republic: the kids weren’t orphans. An Associated Press report reveals that all 33 “orphans” were in fact not orphans. The children all had close family alive, though the families appear to have given their kids to the Baptist missionaries from Idaho in the hope that they would be led to safety—and in some cases, given religious help for their afflictions. Evidence that close family members including parents exist contradicts the missionary leader, Laura Silsby, who said that the children were either orphans or were turned over to her group by “distant relatives.” What constitutes an “orphan” in Haiti may be part of the problem. According to one unconfirmed source who may have provided assistance to the missionaries, half of the 380,000 children in Haitian orphanages aren’t orphans, but children whose parents weren’t able to take care of them. It doesn’t matter. Silsby appears to have misled authorities and the public into believing that the children were orphans when they weren’t. Here at NPQ, given what we learned about Silsby, we aren’t surprised. One would have hoped that religious missionaries, no matter whether they are right or wrong in their charitable activities, would tell the truth.—Rick Cohen