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October - '10

Tuesday 28 Sept. 2010

Protecting Children in Haiti

Ted Geisbrecht

Ted's association with the Children's  Assistance Mission began in 1987 when he and his wife adopted the first of 2 children. He developed guidelines, standards and laws to enhance how adopted children are taken care of and assisted, rather than trafficking and exploitation.


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This was further enhanced in 1990 at the Haig conference, sponsored by Canada, where a treaty was signed by 86 countries. 

 In July 2009, Ted was asked to assist in the bankruptcy proceedings of a Cambridge, Ontario based adoption agency. The Trustee recognized that 47 children were stranded in Ethiopia in a transition home where there was lack of funds, lack of food and lack of care givers.


July 14th. 2009, Ted went to Addis Ababa to stabilize the children's transition home, ensure the safety of the children, develop a budget and complete the adoption cases.


While Ethiopia has good laws, they are unable to enforce due to extreme poverty and severe economical constraints. 


Ted’s had to deal with misappropriate use of funds, bring in physicians to attend to the children, make food and water available, pay the care givers who hadn't been paid, reverse the local mistrust of foreigners and not be robbed or killed by anyone at any time.



Prior to going to  Ethiopia, Ted worked with a charitable organization to set up a $100,000.00 Children's fund.  Getting the money to Ethiopia was very complicated.  In spite of  numerous problems, money arrived, bills were paid, papers completed, 46 adoptions finalized and Ted returned to Canada.  Only one child needed in-country sponsorship as the child was unable to travel due to ill health.

More recently, Ted has been to Haiti to assist in the airlifting of 20 children whose adoption papers were disrupted due to the devastating January earthquake.

Many problems existed because Haiti is the poorest country in Western Hemisphere; birth and death registries are very incomplete; many people have no permanent residence; rule of law was non-functioning; government and judicial structures had collapsed; weather conditions were extreme; the attitude of people was such that they were not following  directives from UN to help in their own clean up; and high crime rates, murders, kidnapping, robberies, rape with little police interference.

In spite of no legal protocol to assist in adoptions, joint governments of Canada and Haiti agreed to assist, on going work took place to rectify the situation.

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