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Sunday, July 6th, 2014

Haitian Orphanage Owned by US Church Fails to Meet Minimum Standards

haiti orphanageAt the Olde Good Things antique store on Manhattan’s Upper West Side, a French crystal chandelier can go for tens of thousands of dollars. A marble mantel sells for more than $20,000 and hand-carved dinner tables are priced even higher.

The store’s Christian missionary owners offer their well-heeled customers a heart-warming story: Part of the proceeds pay for the group’s orphanage in Haiti, one of the poorest countries in the world.

What they don’t say is that even though they claim in IRS filings to be spending around $2.5 million annually, the home for boys and girls was so dirty and overcrowded during recent inspections that the government said it shouldn’t remain open.

The Associated Press made an unannounced visit to the orphanage’s two homes, currently holding a total of 120 kids, in November and found conditions a world away from the opulent Manhattan apartments decorated with the store’s antiques. Bunk beds with faded and worn mattresses were crowded into dirty rooms. Sour air wafted through the bathrooms and stairwells. Rooms were dark and spartan, lacking comforts or decoration.

While many other orphanages also failed the Caribbean country’s new national standards, and conditions are far worse in some, the group’s three-story building on the hilly outskirts of Port-au-Prince stands out because it’s run by an organization with such an unusual, and successful fundraising operation. The failure to meet the standards would seem to contradict their financial position.

Wealthy people patronize Olde Good Things, which has five stores in New York, two in Los Angeles and a warehouse in Scranton, Pa., searching for unusual items for home renovations, much of it salvaged from old buildings. There are antique entryways and doors, porcelain sinks, cast-iron bathtubs, stained glass windows, glass and brass doorknobs, and rare pieces of wooden furniture.

Haiti’s Social Welfare Institute, meanwhile, says the orphanage run by Olde Good Things’ owner, U.S.-based Church of Bible Understanding, did not meet minimum national standards during a series of inspections dating to November 2012.

It found sanitary conditions were “terrible,” and there were too many kids for the amount of space, said Vanel Benjamin, a senior inspector with the agency. They also found not all kids were going to school and the staff lacked adequate training.

“We made a number of visits to the orphanage to tell them that they needed to make progress, but there hasn’t been any progress,” Benjamin said.

The result is that the orphanage was placed on a warning list, allowed to remain open only because impoverished Haiti lacks the resources to close the facility and find new homes for the children.

A church official disputed the allegation that children weren’t attending school and said he doesn’t believe conditions were so bad that they warranted a failing grade, but he said they are addressing the complaints nonetheless.

“There are ways we are lacking but we try to do the very best we can in God’s name,” said Paul Szostak, part of a rotating staff of church workers who currently manages Haiti operations. “We are trying to improve things and make things better.”

The AP’s November visit appeared to bear out Szostak’s claim that improvements were underway. Although the organization says it employs 60 Haitians at the orphanage, journalists found volunteers from another orphanage scrubbing floors, painting walls and giving advice on infant care to the one church member and several Haitian workers on the premises. Some children attended Haitian Creole classes on the terrace.

Read the full story news.yahoo.com

Comments

  1. It is deplorable what these missionary groups have done to people of color around the globe. They erase our cultures, give us a new religion and hurt our youth. But they gave us Jesus so I guess that's supposed to make it all better, everything will be wonderful in Heaven, right?

  2. this is my country. It kills me

  3. Tamara Laird I didn't know you were Haitian. It seems the only people that actually know what these groups do overseas are the ones from their or fortunate enough to travel to these countries. Meanwhile Americans just keep funding the abuse thinking it's all for our own good.

  4. this type of thing will always be a center stone in black culture because we dont advocate for ourselves,we dont open orphanages for ourselves, we dont offer relief services for impoverished countries such as haiti….but we can complain when other races offerr 'help' and then we find out they are doing stuff like this, everyone is outraged….i dont understand.

  5. Tom Veneman says:

    It is so much easier to complain than to do something. There will always be some irresponsible people in any endeavor. Why paint the entire Christian community of missions with the same brush?

  6. its more complicated than that. haiti has been under neocolonialism since they took their freedom from the french and spanish. first the french put them in debt for lifetime for stolen property, slaves. then they US invaded many times and installed puppet leadership. then come to find out in the 70s they found oil that the US and Canada wont let them process. also, when natural disasters happen, the US, and UN only let white companies in there, and the UN gave them a cholera epidemic, and made sure only certain people came inot the country. plus canada has been controlling their military and the US who they vote for. Haiti could be a really rich country but white people refuse to have any financially independent blak country in the world. if you dont believe me look on the real news network and follow the sources.

  7. its more complicated than this. haiti has been under neocolonialism since they took their freedom from the french and spanish. first the french put them in debt for lifetime for stolen property, slaves. then they US invaded many times and installed puppet leadership. then come to find out in the 70s they found oil that the US and Canada wont let them process. also, when natural disasters happen, the US, and UN only let white companies in there, and the UN gave them a cholera epidemic, and made sure only certain people came inot the country. plus canada has been controlling their military and the US who they vote for. Haiti could be a really rich country but white people refuse to have any financially independent blak country in the world. if you dont believe me look on the real news network and follow the sources.

  8. The Haitian inspector wanted a pay off gift and he didn't get it so he gave bad report . This hati at its best .

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