On Saturday, 6 of our children along with the parent/escort of one of the children, another a couple other escorts and Maria all flew to Port au Prince after being notified by U.S. Embassy staff that their paperwork to leave Haiti was complete including the signature of the Haitian Prime Minister.They arrived at the airport and were sitting in the waiting room waiting for the Embassy staff to come so they could board their charter plane. Before the Embassy staff arrived, they were verbally attacked by a large group of Haitians who were at the airpot accusing them of trafficking children and kidnapping. These Haitians knew nothing about our group or the children, they simply attacked. The children were terrified as well as the adults. These Haitians called the police and our children and staff were taken, illegally, to a police station where they were held for hours. The U.S. Embassy staff were immediately on this situation, but as in all things in Haiti, it took time. By the end of the day, our children were brought to a Haitian approved creche, which turned out to be a refuge tent city with no bottles or supplies for our babies. Our staff was forced to leave them there while they went to the apartment of a friend of COTP, a pediatrician. Maria offered to give up her passport to prove that she would not try to leave with the children, just so she could sleep near them so they wouldn't be afraid. The Haitians refused to let her.
Maria and escort returned the following morning to find that our 6 children were ok, but not getting the care that they need. Embassy staff worked all day at trying to get our children released back to our staff, but to no avail. Late in the afternoon word must have gotten to CNN and they contacted us, then talked with Maria and the mom/escort of one of the children.
Our children have all the legal papers approved by the U.S. government and that Haitian Prime Minister's signature that allows them to join their parents who are waiting in Florida. Our Senator Klobuchar from MN is actively working on this in addition to the U.S. government staff in Haiti.
The adults might not have been kept in custody, but our children are being held in a place with standards far beneath COTP's, without enough supplies. They are traumatized. And they are, by law, still legally under the guardianship of COTP until we hand them over to their parents. This is wrong in more ways than can be imagined.
CNN will air this story sometime today. They are going to get footage of the kids.
Please pray that our children will be with their parents as soon as possible!
by: Jan Bonnema
ps. There are hardly any adults anywhere. It is the older kids that are caring for our children. Maria and escort were only able to visit a few hours yesterday.
Where our kids are sleeping
Where are kids play
Two of our kids napping in their "beds".
No bottles for our baby.
Maria with the kids in the "play tent"
Again, no bottles. Its almost mostly kids caring for our children.
Where our kids sleep.