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How far should aid workers go?

February 1st, 2010
01:16 PM ET

Ten Americans detained and accused of child trafficking in Haiti after they allegedly tried to bus 33 children into the Dominican Republic insist their effort was an attempt to get the children to a shelter.

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/images/02/01/haiti.orphans.blog.gi.jpg caption ="A large number of Haitian orphans are being sent to countries including the United States and Canada."]

The controversy raises important questions over how western aid organizations are helping orphaned children and how far they can go.

Back in 2007, members of a French charity, Zoe's Ark, were charged by the government of Chad for abducting more than 100 orphans.

Despite the group's claim that the children were orphans from Darfur most of the children were found to have at least one living parent or guardian.

We want to know what you think.

Do you think that taking orphaned children really kidnapping? How far should aid organizations go? Should these aid workers really be charged with kidnapping?

Please leave your comments below.

Filed under:  General
soundoff (34 Responses)
  1. Janice Harding

    Yes, it's kidnapping. Why are these people so concerned with black children in foreign countries instead of children in this country who need homes? How dare they go into Haiti in the midst of this horrific earthquake and try and remove children without knowing if they have families who could take them in. It looks like slavery to me. What's with these so-called christians who think they have the "right" to take children and do with them whatever they want under the guise of "saving them." Who do these people think they are? How does one know what happens to these children after they have been stolen from their relatives.

    February 1, 2010 at 2:25 pm | Reply
  2. jimmy conway

    GOD was not in them doing it the way they done it.they need to go about it the right way and get the right papers work. to me they when higher than law.they need to think about the childern here in the USA here at home.

    February 1, 2010 at 2:28 pm | Reply
  3. Jim

    They intension was neither good or bad! But that makes this case to difficult! They did the wrong thing, so they need to charged for it even they say they had good intens.

    February 1, 2010 at 2:36 pm | Reply
  4. CSG

    You don't need to be a Christian to be a humanitarian – or just a good person. You just need a conscience and a good heart. These people were naive about the leagities involved, but well intentioned. Any orphan in a developing country, no less a ravagged one, is far worse off than any orphan in the US. Of course, all should be cared for. That's why we are hoping for change here at home too.

    February 1, 2010 at 3:18 pm | Reply
  5. truck bomb

    What I noticed about Haiti and their orphans is the exploitation of white americans against black Haitians. When something terrible happens in a foreign country a white american swoops in and in the name of religion says, "I am here to help." I am sure the people of Haiti do not want to give up their children but I feel it would be better if the children stay with someone of their own kind and in the environment they are accustomed to instead of handed over to some "religion organization."

    I also think the "religious organization" knew what they are doing. There is not a country in the world where someone can take a group of children out of a country legally without some form of documentation. This "religious group" tried to take advantage of the chaos and if caught use "religion" as an excuse

    February 1, 2010 at 3:50 pm | Reply
  6. truck bomb

    What I noticed about Haiti and their orphans is the exploitation of white americans against black Haitians. When something terrible happens in a foreign country a white american swoops in and in the name of religion says, "I am here to help." I am sure the people of Haiti do not want to give up their children but I feel it would be better if the children stay with someone of their own kind and in the environment they are accustomed to instead of handed over to some "religion organization."

    I also think the "religious organization" knew what they are doing. There is not a country in the world where someone can take a group of children out of a country legally without some form of documentation. This "religious group" tried to take advantage of the chaos and if caught use "religion" as an excuse.

    February 1, 2010 at 3:50 pm | Reply
  7. P.Riyad

    The road to Hell is paved with 'good' intentions..and truly applicable to these supposed to be 'good-doers' from the USA who kidnap helpless and destitute children in the name of Christ. Is any moral or religious authority safe from these sharks who will use them without any compunction? And the road to Heaven is paved with good deeds..and this crowd of thieves certainly will not pass through St. Peter's gate when their day is done.

    February 1, 2010 at 3:56 pm | Reply
  8. Michelle K. Gunn (see WWW.KIDJACKED.COM)

    Yes! It couldn't be more obvious that the intentions of these so called "child savers," are no different than the intentions of almost ALL social workers with C.P.S. (Child Protective Services) in the U.S., MONEY!
    As a victim of CPS abuse in Merced County, I am fully aware of what they planned to do. I don't know for a fact if these members of Central Valley Baptist Church are affiliated with agencies who prophet from the placing of children in foster care to be adopted out, but I would be willing to bet they are. I have made observasions that strongly suggest a conspircy exists between the CPS and the Central Valley Baptist Church, in my area.
    I live in CA. but it really dosen't matter where you might live. Child traffickng has become a widespread epidemic in America and worldwide. Everyday, thousands of our children are stolen away from parents who love them and would never harm them. They are looked at like property. Sold for Federal funding that flows into each hand all the way down the line, from foster care providers, social workers, judges, lawyers, and phony non-profit organizations. Statistics from Washington claim that at least 80% of allegations against parents are concluded to be false. A parent need not even be charged with any crime, and their children are kidnapped. More statistics from Washington claim that a child is (10 x's) more likely to suffer some form of abuse or die as an infant/toddler while in foster care, rather than when in the custody of their natural parents, even in troubled homes. THIS HAS TO STOP!!!

    February 1, 2010 at 4:08 pm | Reply
  9. Michelle K. Gunn (see WWW.KIDJACKED.COM)

    And calling to him a child, he put him in the midst of them and said, “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. “Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me, but whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened around his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea.
    (Matthew 18:2-6 ESV)

    “See that you do not despise one of these little ones. For I tell you that in heaven their angels always see the face of my Father who is in heaven.
    (Matthew 18:10 ESV)

    February 1, 2010 at 4:22 pm | Reply
  10. Larry Morgan

    The problem here is that these people did not bother to get all the facts straight. They just swooped in to "rescue these children" and they wanted to get out again as quickly. Not once from what I read did they talk to an offical of the government which I think is disrepectful or even the childen before they tried to leave. The lesson here is if these groups want to help do your homework first and respect the laws and the children of the contry you want to help.

    February 1, 2010 at 4:56 pm | Reply
  11. Karl

    I imagined being taking out of my country, growing up and not knowing my biological parents, my real name, when I was born, whether I have a sister or a brother. The way I look at it, taking those children out of their country without the proper documentation is a crime against humanity.

    They say that real catastrophes bring out both the best and the worst in people.

    February 1, 2010 at 5:17 pm | Reply
  12. Cooler head

    The vituperation in these posts is scary. Clearly we don't have all the facts yet. Whatever happened to "innocent until proven guilty?"

    That said, I'm skeptical of all those who let their eagerness to help over-ride common sense. Too often private citizens and grand-standing politicians with no useful skills at all feel the need to go "help" in someone else's tragedy. Most of us should stay out of the way and send $$ to organizations that really know how to organize a relief effort.

    February 1, 2010 at 5:28 pm | Reply
  13. Cesar Guvele

    It is history in the making again. They came to Africa with their Missionary Agenda. Africa was lost.
    In war ravaged Southern Sudan they have jumped in with their Orphanage Industry – A Scheme to Traffic the most vulnerable in a bad situation. They have shown up in Haiti under similar disaster situation. Fortunately, they have been caught red-handed. Christian mission or not, these people should be exposed and investigated for what they are -Criminals. Those who participate (create the demand for these "poor" children) by adopting them should also be invetigated. There are many children in these country who need to be adopted.
    Also, just because a child is living with a relative does not mean that they have lost protection. In this part of the world, as in all Africa, "it takes a village to raise a child". Children belong to the community and they are taken care of by the community. If you have a good faith intention to help to improve the situation of these children, invest to improve the economic livelihoods of these communities. Ms Oprah Winfrey has done that in South Africa. Do not traffic them. They are the social capital capital of their communities.

    February 1, 2010 at 5:55 pm | Reply
  14. Liz Knott

    Wow! What ever happened to God actually calling people to do His will and His work. These people need help, and these children need help. God called these people to go to Haiti to help with getting children to a different orphanage. They lacked one piece of paper to get the children out safely, and their intentions were good and honorable. I don't think they swooped in to take over a situation, and I certainly know the church is not affiliated with getting money from the CPS! How dare people think that a church would do something like that! Jesus is the one who told these people to go, and through all of this Jesus will still be glorified. People can think the worst all they want, but I know for a fact that these people were trying to help a desperate country and children who needed that help!

    February 1, 2010 at 6:21 pm | Reply
  15. Raul DePaulangly

    This is a prime example of why aid missions to foreign countries should be handled by the military only. No "Christian" saviour missions, just aid, dropped from gun ships, ready to handle anyone who doesn't cooperate. Help but keep your distance. Let the Haitian authorities deal with the "orphans" and family services matters.

    February 1, 2010 at 6:49 pm | Reply
  16. Lynn

    I totally agree with Truck Bomb. They knew they didn't have all the paperwork they needed to take those children. I'm sure the kids told them they were not orphans. Those people didn't care. They had their own plans for those kids. If they wanted to help they should have helped them reunite with their families.

    February 1, 2010 at 6:55 pm | Reply
  17. g barr

    I think it's disgusting that these so-called "Christians," feel it's their duty to go into another country and willfully take their children. The first red flag for me was the fact that they claimed ignorance. These people did not even take into account that these children could have parents searching for them. Any American would be outraged if this happened in middle America, and we should be as angry for the children of Haiti. How dare they treat Haitian children like they are puppies to be given away at will. I think these people and their "mission" should be investigated, and if found to be guilty have the book thrown at them. Being naive or uninformed should not fly in this case, because common sense and basic human respect should have kicked in.

    February 1, 2010 at 6:56 pm | Reply
  18. Carmen

    It's sad for these things to happen in a country like Haiti, but it is also sad to see the haitian people jump at the Christians. Much of the help that Haiti has received is because of the Christians. If it would have been for satan he would have destroyed the country already. I do not think that we shoul generalize. These young people wanted to help, inexperience as they are they maybe made a mistake, but it is not for people to jump at them. This will be a lesson learned. The problem is that if people continue to critize the christians maybe than it is best just to back away and let Haiti take its course. What they need to be doing right now is thanking God for all the people that have God in their heart that are out there helping. Do you think satanic people are going to help, no they will kill if they have to. I bless the nation of Haiti and declare that it will come to repentence of sin and people will turn they ways and serve Jesuschrist.

    February 1, 2010 at 8:39 pm | Reply
  19. King

    There is no explanation of why these Americans think documentation is not necessary. So far there is no evidence that these Americans can prove these children are orphans. Why can't they wait? Did they ask the children what they want? I wonder these Americans support the Obama's health care plain or not.

    February 1, 2010 at 8:48 pm | Reply
  20. Liz

    I wonder what would have happened if a foreign religous organization had arrived at the Superdome in New Orleans during the crisis following Katrina, and snatched up unattended children assuming they were ALL "orphans" and took them across the border to Mexico....just to keep those poorl little kiddies safe.

    It would have caused an international incident. Americans would have been outraged and demanded to prosecute those individuals in the US and to the fullest extent of the law.

    Leave 'humanitarian relief' to legitimate aid organizations which may be slow but are doing their best in a horrible situation..

    February 1, 2010 at 8:55 pm | Reply
  21. katazo motsabe

    People must be GOD fearing in whatever you do and also the government of HAITI must wake up,how can someone from another country traffic orphans without proper documantation,does Haiti have a president or he was buried in the rubble together wth the law.

    February 1, 2010 at 9:05 pm | Reply
  22. mike

    Some of the most despicable things done in human history where done with "good intentions". Sounds to me like they went down there not understanding the process and then did not even verify if the kids were truely orphans or not. I say at the least charge them with stupidity, true they probably had good intentions but were there good intentions to take them and brain wash them with their religious beliefs? In other words good intentions are in the eyes of the beholder. These people obviously had no clue what they were doing and certainly should not have just been given 33 children.

    February 1, 2010 at 9:05 pm | Reply
  23. Amy Heymann

    I think they were just misguided. It was technically kidnapping but I don't think they meant to child traffic. They wanted to help. It's a know thing children in Haiti are/were sold. Where was the government then? Were was UNICEF then? I think they should kick the 10 stupid , misguided do gooders out of the country. They shouldn't try to make examples of them if it's clear they just wanted to help. They can send a clear message that this is the wrong thing to do without discouraging others that would want to come to Haiti to help. I really don't they meant harm, they were just not very smart. We have seen news stories of other church groups going to Haiti and being handed the key to an orphanage. The people in this MSMBC story were considered Saints. The only big difference was this group tried to cross a boarder.

    February 1, 2010 at 9:37 pm | Reply
  24. Raj Singhal, Chairman – help the children’s foundation www.helpthechildrens.org

    Absolutely these people are child traffickers; any of these people have no history or intention of charitable of social life. They are criminals; these kinds of people always wait disaster to arrive so on the name of god they can play their evil act.

    February 1, 2010 at 10:11 pm | Reply
  25. Gino Noli

    The moral of the story is: Don't trust folk who make a habit of following the hallucinated instructions of imaginary friends. And giving said fictional products of weak minds cute names like "Jesus" or "God" will not make them any more real.

    February 1, 2010 at 10:23 pm | Reply
  26. Elke, Germany

    When I read the story I was really stunned. How naive can people be?Even when they had good intentions, I´m sure they know that for crossing the border with these children they need government approval.
    And when they didn´t know it, then they are so stupid, have no clue what they are doing and should be charged.
    And as mike wrote: Some of the most despicable things done in human history where done with "good intentions".
    A real crucial story.

    February 1, 2010 at 10:36 pm | Reply
  27. Dalie

    This are the dangers of unorganized religion. Who was directing these people, and why did they think they could just take these children??? As a Christian, I am disgusted with their actions and they should be prosecuted to the full extent of the law. Haiti is a sovereign country and we need to respect their people. We are there to help the people of Haiti, IN Haiti!

    February 1, 2010 at 11:23 pm | Reply
  28. John

    This is another case of arrogent religious fanatics trying to steal children under the banner of there loving god.
    Religious fanatics such as therse use have destroyed cultures and belief systems around the globe.They target the young of small poor countrys and belive they have a god given right to take what they wish and impose there small minded religious views on others at any cost including stealing the children.These children are lucky to have been saved.
    The full force of the law must come down apon these kiddnappers.

    February 1, 2010 at 11:38 pm | Reply
  29. kmk122

    I find it extremely interesting that so many Americans are suddenly interested in Haiti following a devastating earthquake, yet they weren't so quick to provide aid or assistance to them during the brutal Duvalier dictatorship in the 90's. Furthermore, it is common knowledge that you MUST have the requisite travel documents when traveling across international borders. I, for one, am not buying this "we didn't know, we just had to save the children" excuse. I find it abhorrent that these Americans are justifying their actions on religion.

    February 1, 2010 at 11:44 pm | Reply
  30. g barr

    Carmen with all do respect, that is a very sad comment coming from someone who would consider herself a Christian. Comments are not directed to all Christians, but about this group. Just because a group of people claim to be doing God's work doesn't always make it so. People from all walks of life and religions are helping in Haiti and giving monetary support. The people of Haiti are beautiful in spirit and are obviously strong. I am pretty sure, that "satan" isn't out to get the people of Haiti, anymore than satan would be out to get people here in the USA.

    February 2, 2010 at 12:16 am | Reply
  31. etherbunny

    I have been to Haiti on a medical mission. Admittedly, it was in the 80's, and Baby Doc was the big boss. Fr. Aristide was still an uppity parish priest. I was totally impressed & in agreement with the sponsoring organization's instructions to remember that we were in a nation that, however we felt, still had it's own laws & sovereignity. Just being an American, a christian, or whatever, does NOT justify misguided actions, no matter how kindly intended. I would also like to point out that, as I understand this group arrived sans translator, that this is another foolish, extremely foolish mistake. Many Haitians speak some English, but fluency in Creole, or at least French would be very necessary to be of any help.

    February 2, 2010 at 9:37 pm | Reply
  32. Jimmy

    They should be charge with kidnapping and human trafficking and as they have admitted they should be jailed for life, throw the keys away. How many baptist church people travel around the world trying to frame people for human trafficking even assisted by usaid like IJM.ORG they have many cases against them for fabricating papers trying to frame people for human trafficking raising donations in their churches, this is payback as they have always believed they are above the law. Going into a foreign county taking kids just like that? Who do they think they are?

    February 2, 2010 at 10:06 pm | Reply
  33. michael stefanek

    Of coiurse it is kidnapping. I grow tired of transgressions as grievous as this being passed of as good intentions or "the work of the lord". We have a very vigorous protective policy in the country related to adoptions since people change their mind. So soon after an earthquake, in a financially strapped country, with an indefinite future, is it any surprise that parents are willing to hand over their children for a better life? What happens 6 months, 1 year, 5 years down the road when these Haitiain parents decide they want their children back-or want to visit them, or have some degree of custody of them? Do those taking these children have any plans to keep parents in contact with these children? Are they taking them to take care of them or to convert them? This is dead wrong.....they should indeed be prosecuted.....

    February 3, 2010 at 9:53 pm | Reply
  34. Crone Carol

    These evalgelical wing-nuts must be stopped!

    Today an Asian-American pastor was on TV urging his congregation to 'adopt' children from Haiti. So the beat goes on.

    The American 'baptists' who stated onTV that they tried to take the children out of Haiti "to put them in good homes," are deranged.
    Did they mean the children would be better off in white, heterosexual, two-parent homes - Instead of being in their own country with their surviving family members?

    Whether the American 'missionaries' were planning to enlarge their congregations or turn the children into household or sex slaves is irrelevant. What they tried to do was illegal, immoral and definitely not in the best interest of the children.

    Sensible people need to speak out to protect Haitian children. First, for the children, but also to protect our moral position in the world.

    February 4, 2010 at 4:51 am | Reply

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