There is a misconception that orphanages, no longer existent in developed countries, are a good alternative to childcare in impoverished and underdeveloped nations. There is a misconception that mothers and fathers give their children up out of a lack of love for them, while words like abandonment and negligence taint the images, stories and dignity of these men and women with negative connotation. There is a misconception that the business of orphanages is not a crisis when, indeed, it is a crisis extending globally because the term “orphan” no longer encompasses only children without a living mother and father, but now includes a vast percentage of children who have been placed in a home or institution out of obligation. But perhaps the greatest misconception pertains to a misunderstanding of the definition of poverty, in that it is not only a monetary problem, but also one of deep emotional instability.
What if you knew that many mothers and fathers give their children up because they love them? What if you knew poverty is much more than a lack of monetary income, but also a lack of emotional support, a lack of empowerment, a lack of feeling worthy and valued and capable? What if you knew these very parents labeled as negligent are rarely given a choice when choosing the future for their children?
These impoverished countries are foreign, literally and figuratively, to a lifestyle of comfort and privilege and convenience. And these misconceptions are not a result of carelessness and unconcern, but a result of the glaring disconnect between these two separate worlds – a world of insufficient means versus a world of plentiful excess. Where does this opposition even begin to align? But despite this disconnect, there is one aligning factor – love. The love a mother or father has for his or her child is not unique to circumstance. Regardless of income, regardless of social or economic status, regardless of difference in culture, love always prevails. What if parents became empowered to care for their children rather than made to feel discouraged to care for them because love deserves to be upheld? What if parents were given an opportunity to provide rather than given an ultimatum to give up their children because love deserves to be honored? What if the disconnect was based upon one thing – poor infrastructure – and that a job would allow for love to be realized?
In Haiti, more often than not, parents give their kids up for a chance at a better life because they don’t have a way to provide for their very basic needs. They feel less than worthy to fulfill their basic calling as a parent solely based upon the circumstances into which they were born. If they only had an income, they would not only be able to raise their own children, but they would also save themselves from the trauma that follows both parent and child for the rest of their lives. What if the solution to the orphan crisis was not as complicated as we make it out to be? What if it all just started with a job?
This is exactly why Papillon is worth it. Job creation is worth it. Because parents are worth it. Dignity is worth it. Family preservation is worth it. And love is ultimately worth it.