Haitian Children Sold for only $1.20

Children in Haiti are being traded by human traffickers for as little as $1.20 Canadian.

February 21, 2011 / soschildrenvillages,ca

“Human beings,” said former Secretary-General of the United Nations, Kofi Annan, “are not property.”

Yet, forms of modern-say slavery persist wherever there are vulnerable people. The trafficking of vulnerable children in Haiti, for instance, has continued to flourish more than one year after the devastating 7.0-magnitude earthquake of January 2010.

Social chaos has allowed traffickers to take advantage of children without parental care and families living in dire poverty. At present, says the United Nations, Haitian children are being sold for as little as 76 pence ($1.20 Canadian), according to The Daily Telegraph’s exclusive report.

Some children are sold by their parents, who are often unable to provide for their basic needs. Parents believe that in giving their children up, they will be sending them to better lives with more privileged families that can send then to school and take them to doctors. Such a decision is difficult for any parent to make. But, many parents have been lied to by traffickers masquerading as aid and adoption officials.

The main targets of the traffickers are vulnerable children living with relatives, of which there are tens of thousands living in Haiti’s displaced persons camps. There are about 800,000 people living in camps, so keeping track of and protecting everyone can be difficult.

Most of the children wind up in the Dominican Republic, but are trafficked for different purposes. Some children will be sold for international adoption. The adoptive parents of these children, many of whom are located across Europe, are unaware of the circumstances through which the children came to them.

“Well-meaning parents in the US and Europe have no idea that children are being kidnapped, stolen and bought from the displacement camps of Port au Prince,” a spokesperson for the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) told The Telegraph.

Other children, perhaps less fortunate, are trafficked into illegal prostitution rings, domestic labour, street begging, or trading in drugs and small arms.

In an effort to quell this rampant abuse of children, UNICEF is supporting the work of Brigade de Protection des Mineurs, which works to locate and protect vulnerable children in refugee camps and at border crossings.

Every year, it is estimated that 2,000 children are trafficked across Haiti’s borders. Since April of last year, more than 1,400 of the 7,000 children crossing the border were found not to have the correct travel documents. However, there are a number of unofficial border crossings that cannot be monitored 24 hours a day.

Last month, UNICEF and other child charities issues warnings against speedy adoptions because of the difficulty in stopping all child trafficking. After last year’s earthquake, many governments in developed countries streamlined adoption procedures in order to protect as many children as possible as quickly as they were able.


Oh, that's rich!

Some children are sold by their parents, who are often unable to provide for their basic needs. Parents believe that in giving their children up, they will be sending them to better lives with more privileged families that can send then to school and take them to doctors. Such a decision is difficult for any parent to make. But, many parents have been lied to by traffickers masquerading as aid and adoption officials.

But by all means, adopters, insist these adoptions get fast-tracked because you don't want the poor children to suffer the harms that go with poverty stricken orphanage-living -- orphanages that just so happen to charge forced donation fees (paid in cash) to care for the poor abandoned things.

Heaven knows just how important it is to get the legal adoption completed before the AP discovers the 'abandoned orphan' was in-fact robbed by frauds who took $1.22 US dollars, (from the freakin impoverished!), so the child could be brought to an orphanage.

<shaking head>

The worst, most pathetic part?  Prices have fallen since the good ol' days when a person could get  $175 and a cockatoo for a child sold to better care-takers. 

Say you're one of them

This harvesting of children for prostitution=sexual abuse or child labour is also linked to adoption.
Parents hand over their children for a better life, enabling them to go to school (abroad).
Often, not understanding the legal implications of adoption, assuming they'll come back at 18.

But instead of adoption, children are (at least some times, but how often remains unclear) end up being used for other purposes (sexual abuse, begging, child labour etc).

I suggest reading 'Say you're one of them' by Uwem Akpan.
In the chapter 'Fattening for Gabon' the harrowing tale of two children who are being prepared by their uncle for their future lives. The parents agreed to 'give' the children for adoption, and that's what the children think will happen. That fact is rarely mentioned...

"All five of these stories are electrifying, but the one I find myself thinking about the most is one of the longest — over 100 pages — called "Fattening for Gabon." (Listen to Uwem Akpan read the opening of this story.) It takes place over three months and has the slow, sinister feel of a dark fairy tale. In it, our narrator, a boy aged 10, and his sister, 5, are sent to live with their uncle because their parents are dying of AIDS. The uncle makes a deal with the devil and sells the children into slavery — although the kids don't know that; they just see a new motorbike appear one day in their uncle's hut. They're treated to fattening feasts of bush meat and pepper soup by a pair of fawning "godparents" who plan to stick them in the bottom of a boat and smuggle them across the border to Gabon. The boy begins to catch on but, to give himself and his sister a chance of survival, he acts dumb and feels bad about himself for being good at it. Referring to his captors, he says, "I felt I had learned evil from them. I had learned to smile and be angry at the same time.""

I wonder how many of these Haitian parents were lured into giving up their children for adoption, while in reality....

Finder's Fees

Let's flip this scenario around, because I HAVE done my homework....

Let's say you get paid a small fee for each child you can make available for trade.

Before we begin, outsiders need to know a few basics.  There is nothing more confusing than the Haitian monetary system.  There is no physical monetary unit that represents a Haitian dollar, so 5 Gourds = 5 Gourds.  However, many stores will not tag their prices so foreigners can understand the correct currency exchange. In addition, the thriving black market produces counterfeited Haitian currency. If you don't know what to look for, you will pay a fee for an exchange service, and get money with no value, in return. However, in general, $1 USD = 40 HTG

In terms of local economy and resources, there are various articles that give a break-down how foreign relief money is being spent. For instance, $3 in Haiti can buy a blanket and $30 in Haiti can provide essential hygiene materials for five people for one month. Six months after the earthquake, it was already estimated that non-profit groups alone have raised $1.3 billion to help the nation recover. And a year after the earthquake, the American Red Cross estimated it collected $479 million in donations, spending slightly more than half of that amount.  It's interesting to note comments made on various new-sources, like The Guardian, where some boast how much aid the USA sent, and how geographical location often determines 'local interest'.  As one person wrote,

Again the USA seems to be the most generous of nations. But perhaps this is because Haiti is in the Americas, and the US feels it has some kind of regional leadership. Maybe if this happened to Cyprus; the EU would be pledging more. I don't know.

While $1.22 finder's fee for a child does not seem like much, consider what that money can buy a person in Haiti. In Haiti, a small breakfast, which includes a basic egg sandwich and 12 oz orange juice will cost at least 40 Gourds, or roughly, $1 USD.

Not a bad deal, if all you have to do is find a child, and bring it to an agreed location.

One day, international adopters will figure out their role in this, and feel so very ashamed they fell into the corruption-pool like they did.  [Keep in mind, what makes this such a succes is the idea that desperate people believe international adoption is the best, and only option a desperate person has....]

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