Is there a way to truly understand the depth of the crisis in Haiti and get financial assistance directly to victims?
The island nation that abuts the Dominican Republic is a devastated ‘no-man’s’ land, a haven for sex and drug traffickers and every perverse form of corruption in between. A place where billions of dollars of humanitarian aid never reached the people, where starvation, anarchy and desperation drives kids, teenagers and adults to the streets to fight for survival with homemade weapons and ravenous bellies.
“Haiti was always bad” people are wont to say in decisive tones.
This week, an orphanage located in Fermate, located in south Port-au-Prince, burned down. You may have heard about it. Mainstream reports include “unauthorized orphanage” in the title without explaining that the building in which just under two hundred children were trying to survive, had no electricity, running water or anything in the way of accommodations. The orphanage, one of several inadequate structures operating in deplorable conditions, presented one of very few options for children in need.
On Thursday, it took fire fighters 90 minutes to arrive at the scene. By that time many were already dying of asphyxiation. Inside, there was one exit door.
Valerie Dirksen, a journalist who has worked diligently over the past several years to publicize Haiti’s plight and elicit help for its citizens, is seemingly fighting a one-woman battle against corruption. In December, Dirksen asked Speak Project to help ensure the safe-keeping of several young people who had testified against accused pedophile mob-boss Michael Geilenfeld. She needed to fund their upkeep for another month, an upkeep that barely covered food and housing much less their safety, and she had completely run dry of funds to do so.
Dirksen reports that one of those whistleblowers lived at the orphanage in Fermate. She clarifies that children on the second floor had lit candles for light, starting the fire. Everyone on the second floor died, with the initial death toll totaling 20 children, not 13 or 15, as is being reported. Many more children were injured and died en route or in the clinic, which was also not reported.
“The conditions were squalid and the orphanage was closed down in 2013 but continued to operate. The non-profit reported collecting $2.5 mil last year and had two airplanes and reportedly received food from USAid to feed the poor,” said Dirksen on a call this morning.
Of course none of these funds reached the children.
“This is really a bad situation”, Dirksen emphasized.
The injured children have been moved to a clinic at the Baptiste mission which lacks the facilities or caregivers to treat burn victims. At least four of the fire victims are under age six and are burned over 80% of their body.
Dirksen is scrambling to get them transported to aburn facility as soon as possible.
Prayers are in dire need. Please send what you can directly to Valerie Dirksen at:
See more about Dirksen and her work in the article just below.
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