"I need to tell you something," the teary-eyed girl said to Campus Crusade's country director for Haiti, Esperandieu Pierre, during his recent visit to one of the tented camps near a hospital in Port-au-Prince.
The nine year-old orphan had been raped by multiple men.
After taking her to the hospital, Esperandieu was told by the nurse that the rape of a child, especially an orphan, is now a "common event" that she sees daily. The nurse added that she had just treated a five year-old parentless girl who was brutally raped and "pretty messed up." I can assume that she meant that the poor little girl was messed up both physically and emotionally.
Five years old.
Ten of thousands of new orphans. Not enough people to protect them. Thousands of escaped convicts. Thousands of pedophiles, traffickers and rapists who were never incarcerated in the first place.
In the mind of a rapist: Why choose a girl who has a father that might seek retribution? Why choose a child who has people to go to for help? Much better to find a shell-shocked orphan who is experiencing severe displacement and disorientation. Who's even missing her right now? And who even cares?
For men who think in such a warped way, there are plenty of easy targets to now be found in Haiti, especially in the midst of community chaos and unlikely attention from law enforcement.
As one of our team members was riding in a truck to visit a church in a very poor district of Port-au-Prince a few days ago, he witnessed a somewhat unsettling scene. In a dangerous slum area he saw a man grab a girl from a rubble pile. The young teenager (14 or 15 years old) was screaming as she was forced down an alleyway while a second man stood nearby. This second man noticed the team member looking at him and waved him on while mouthing something that could probably be loosely translated into "Mind your own business. Get out of here."
We've seen quite a few scuffles during our time here and the team member wasn't sure what to make of what he'd just seen. For all he knew it could have been a big brother grabbing a little sister who wasn't obeying her mom to come home. It could have been a neighbor who was upset the girl had stolen food from him and was demanding to find out where she hid it. It could have been a girl who was fighting against the sight of her father's newly-discovered body that a cousin wanted to show her for closure.
It could have been rape.
It's exceedingly difficult to differentiate between a domestic dispute, survivor anguish, and an outright crime right now. There are just too many variables, and too many emotions, in such a chaotic crushed land.
After the church visit, the team member rode out the same way he came in. The girl was sitting on the ground, propped up against the building where he'd seen her dragged away. She had her head in her hands and was sobbing.
Nobody knows for sure what happened, if anything happened.
. . . But one can just imagine similar scenes playing out all over Port-au-Prince where the weeping of a young girl is indeed the wailing of her violation.
The Haiti Orphan Relief Team (HORT) can be found on Facebook.
Abandoned-Orphaned is the personal blog of Paul Myhill, President of World Orphans. Subscribe to the blog in the upper right-hand corner of the home page. Paul can be found on Facebook and on Twitter @paulmyhill.
Please start your own campaign for Haiti at Paul's FirstGiving Page.