As the US missionaries in Haiti are charged with kidnapping, Channel 4 News meets parents from an unaffected village there who say missionaries offered to take their children.
Channel 4 News has visited Calebasse, a village around 90 minutes away from Port-au-Prince by car.
Very few houses in the village were damaged in the earthquake, but resident Maggie Moise told us she was introduced to American baptists by a local man.
She was told the ‘white people’ wanted to help her family and so she handed over two of her children, nine-year-old twins Kimley and Volmay, so they could be taken to an orphanage in the neighbouring Dominican Republic.
Ten American missionaries are now in custody on child trafficking charges, a claim they vehemently deny.
Maggie said: “They said they wanted to take our children and told us ‘don’t worry everything will be fine’.
“They asked me to sign a piece of paper. The white woman said ‘Don’t worry you will be able to see your children again’.
“They showed me a brochure of the place where the children were going to live in Dominican Republic.
“I hoped they would grow up there, then come home and take care of me.
“I have eight children in this house, so I gave the twins to the Americans since they wanted them.”
We showed Maggie a picture of the 10 missionaries who are currently in jail in Port au Prince.
She identified one of the women, Corinna Lankford, who she says negotiated with the villagers and she says she was not the only villager who jumped at the offer.
She added: “When she came to take my twin sons she told me she wanted more children. They wanted to take so many, but they couldn’t fit them all on the bus.
“Many of us gave our children, they told us they were going to help them.”
Maggie has not seen Kimley and Volmay since they left, but she says her sister has seen them in Port-au-Prince, where they are being cared for. She denies any money changed hands.
We have met other villagers who did not want to appear on camera but told the same story.
If true, their version of events contradict claims by the Baptists that they helping orphans.
At a camp near the airport a group of orphans are being cared for in temporary tents.
There are few facilities and the children are living in flimsy shacks constructed from cardboard boxes.
The father and son who look after the orphans say they were approached a few days ago by an American man offering money for children. He told them he was a pastor but little else.
An orhanage worker said: “The man came and saw these children and asked the director to take them to America. He gave me $100 to buy food and beans.”
The worker said the American selected three young girls.
The director of another orphanage thinks they may have been just trying to help.
In Haiti society, those believed to be men of God carry great authority.
Orphanage director Joseph Marcel said: “He told me that he’s very sorry for what has been happening but that he just wants to help them.
“If someone wants to take them to the States with them, that would be good, but let’s do it properly.”
Filed under: Crime, Crime and or Corruption, Dandelion Salad Posts News Politics and-or Videos 2, Haiti, Human Rights, Human Trafficking, Politics Tagged: | children, Haiti Earthquake, Haiti Earthquake on Dandelion Salad, Human Rights on Dandelion Salad, The Real News Network