Sunday, January 17, 2010

A Glimmer of Hope in the Darkness of Haiti

The US Government, in particular USCIS and DOS, are working overtime in an effort to grant Visas to children who have already completed the adoption process in Haiti. The first five children from BRESMA orphanage are currently at the US Embassy, safe from harm.

This effort was coordinated only through extraordinary efforts on behalf of the UN, the US military, USCIS, DOS, the Joint Council of International Children's Services, many parent volunteers, the US Air Force, and of course our brave staff at the orphanage.

The message below was shared by Lt. Colonel Randon Draper, who along with Mr. Julius Fondong of the UN Foundation enabled the children to reach and enter the Embassy safely.

Gen Lepper/Mr. Peters--

I just left the embassy. The children are doing well.

Although I did not get any of your messages notifying me of the UN driver and Pius Bannis until I got back, I was directed to Linda Percy and Pius Bannis while I was there. In the course of our conversations, the UN driver arrived with the children. I felt privileged to help lead them by the hand into the reception area and teach them how to eat their first MRE. They were hungry. I hope their parents don't mind, but I gave them a tootsie roll before dinner! They were very calm, bright-eyed and submissive to their environment.

Jenna is a little sick -- running nose and had vomit on her, but she appeared to be doing well overall. The oldest (maybe 10 or 12) held her and was very attentive. I tried to get her to sit in the cushioned chair so she could better attend to Jenna, but she kept giving the best to the little ones. Very tender. A nurse was going to look at Jenna when I left. They had a lot medical from New Jersey. I've got to say that the plight of these people choke you up at times, and I have not come close to seeing the worst of it.

The kids, as are all adoptive kids, are first priority on the plane. As there were no other adoptive kids, they are on the first plane out.

Mr. Bannis was processing paperwork when I left. As I had traveled with OSI and they had to return, I could not stay with the children.
However, Mr. Bannis will notify me when they are transported to the airport and I will hook up with them there if at all possible.

The process with these little travelers had additional good as the embassy realized that other adoptive kids had been turned away in the chaos because they went to the wrong processing gate -- a simple matter, but so is the minor switching of a train track toward another destination.

Mr. Bannis and Ms. Percy are a God Send. They had damage to their own homes and were working tirelessly. Ms. Percy had her two adopted kids evac'd out to stay with family after the quake. I also saw whispers, tears and embraces among a couple of embassy staff consoling each other for loss of their own family members or friends.

I will send this message twice -- one with photos and one without to make sure it gets through. I appreciate the privilege to be involved with this.



These children are the first of many our government will save.
Thank you to all of you heroes involved!

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