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Saturday, June 15, 2024

An injustice beyond belief in Haiti

Haiti Greta Home and AcademyBy Claire Bijou

CSMS Magazine

Port-au-Prince, Haiti—On January 12th,2010, the island of Haiti was hit by an earthquake. An earthquake that left part of the country, including the capital, in ruins. Days later, NGOs (None Governmental Organizations) started coming to the country, and one of them was Samaritan’s Purse. Like most of the NGOs, its role was to provide humanitarian aids. Its involvement in the south of the country—in the city of Leogane—has earned it great respect and appreciation among the population.

Shortly after Samaritan’s Purse came in, about a couple of months later, it decided to sponsor an orphanage. With the guidance of Yves Francois Bijou, that orphanage was founded in Leogane. According to Haitian laws regulating social services, an international institution must have a national representative in order to operate within the country. That role was given to Mr. Bijou. He was named spokesperson and president of that orphanage. All legal papers bore his name and were signed by him with the authorization of those in charge of the NGO.

With the generous donation from a woman named Greta Van Susteren, from Canada, the orphanage was built on Highway National #2 and was named “Greta Home Academy.” An impressive building that attracts the attention of everyone traveling down that highway. 

For the past five years, Mr. Bijou worked tirelessly to protect the interest of the institution, to the point of putting his own life at risks. Death threats were sent his way. Still, it didn’t faze him. He had one thig in mind: protecting the institution and those it serves. “Why you’re putting yourself under so much stress?” Some people would ask Mr. Bijou.

He would reply, “Because it was the prayers of the children residing in that orphanage that made it possible. Had not it been for their faith, it would not have existed. As a spiritual leader, it is my duty to do everything in my power to protect the interests of those children.” As a noble man, Mr. Bijou performed his duty to the highest form of integrity. He never sought anything in return for all his sacrifices. As long as the children were safe and happy, he was too.

On March 7th, 2016 an arrest warrant was issued against Mr. Bijou, claiming that he has committed forgery in the affairs of the orphanage and was asked to show up in court in the city of Petit Goave. He did. However, no faults or wrongdoings were found. On that same day, he was asked to sign a letter of renunciation, giving up his rights to lead the orphanage. A shock that could have sent him straight to the hospital. With all his composure, he refused to do so, for he believed the demand was in gross violation with the legal procedure. Upon his refusal, he was handcuffed and led to the jail house of that city, even though all of his papers were legal.

Why was he wrongly accused and thrown in jail? Was it simply because of his refusal to sign a paper relinquishing his rights? For being honest? For protecting the interests of an institution so that that the future to the Children could be preserved? Is this truly the face of our justice system? Is it right to put innocent people behind bars to pressure them to succumb to unjust demands? And who will benefit from Mr. Bijou’s renunciation of his rights to lead the orphanage? Who are the ones behind this Machiavellian plan? The answers to so many question remain a mystery.

Mr. Yves Francois Bijou is a pastor and a father. He now finds himself behind bars for protecting the interests of children who represent the future generation of our country. He was simply doing GOD’s will.

Note: Claire Bijou is poet and writer. She is CSMS correspondent in Haiti. She lives and works in suburban Port-au-Prince.  

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