Saturday, February 05, 2005

the orphans of tsunami/ liz carter

This was written by my daughter, Liz Carter, who is a first year student at UNC-Chapel Hill. It will appear in the magazine Diaspora:

The tsunami which affected a large part of Southeast Asia did more than just destroy homes. It destroyed families. Many parents were left childless, and many children were orphaned. However, in the midst of overturned houses and flattened villages, there are many amazing
stories of unlikely survival – for instance, the baby who survived for a week by floating on a mattress, or the boy who managed to climb into a balcony of a tall building and weather out the disaster. Though organizations across the globe have reached out with support after December 26th, not all help is good help. In Aceh, Indonesia, the area hit hardest by the tsunami, a western Christian group attempted to airlift three hundred Muslim children to a Christian
orphanage. The operation was blocked by WorldHelp because Indonesia law states an orphan must be adopted by a family of his or her own religion. Still, some fundamentalist religious groups, both Christian and Muslim, see the tsunami as an opportunity to preach and convert.
Understandably, these actions have caused tensions between aid workers
and the local populations.

Even when aid does come with no strings attached, there is more danger to children displaced by the tsunami than one might expect. In eastern Sri Lanka, where rebels called the Tamil Tigers have established control over much of the jungle area, some children have reportedly been recruited to join in the guerrilla warfare that has lasted over two decades. A man has already been arrested for attempting to selling children to foreigners. But the upwelling of
compassion in Sri Lanka cannot be denied. President Chandrika Kumaratunga, from the Sinhalese ethnic majority, has publicly announced her intention of adopting a boy from the Tamil minority. A Cabinet member, Jeyaraj Fernandopulle, also plans to adopt a child. Fernandopulle, minister of trade and commerce, has publicly backed the loosening of adoption regulations so that children can be placed with loving homes.

There is much debate about the issue of adoption regulations. A loosening of regulations might expose children to even more danger in the form of exploitation and abuse. However, overly strict laws might prevent or delay them from joining loving families. Though countries
throughout the affected region grapple with this issue, they are not standing idly by. Almost all countries in the region are raising money for the orphans, building shelters, and working to make sure they find homes. The journey back towards a family is far from over for these
children: but it safe to say that because of caring people and nations all over the world, one day it will be.


Post a Comment

<< Home