The votes are in! According to the poll from our last blog you are far more interested in our recent brush with Haiti’s criminal element than all of the other potential topics combined. I would love to tell that story, but as I’ve hesitated for two months now, I think I should just move on. The reason for the hesitation is that the people who have been threatening us have not been caught, and until about a week ago, the threats had been happening again. I wouldn’t want anything to be posted here that would jeapardize the efficacy of the investigation and apprehension of these guys. So I will give a brief version only now, but I won’t tell it all or delay the blog any further just to be able to tell this one story.
What I can say is that months ago we were told by an artisan that somebody was harassing him for money, threatening to kill him if he did not pay. The amount was a lot for an average Haitian, but not nearly the kinds of amounts you normally would hear with these kinds of extortion and kidnapping efforts in Haiti. The threats were also coming to another artisan at that time, but we didn’t know about that until recently. Since this was all happening through text messages, Shelley confronted the person through another text message and that’s when he began threatening her for significantly more money. The threats began getting more detailed and there were things about our family life involved in the threats that really could not have been known, and wouldn’t have been important to know to anybody who was not fairly intimately connected to us… details about our adoption process, etc. So we knew that whoever was threatening us had an informant or was himself very close to our family. That’s about as much as I think I can tell without getting more vague, since I don’t want those threatening to see all our cards, so to speak. But the police were able to catch the informant with very good proof that he was involved, and he is now in prison… sitting there without trial… and he’s 17. He was sponsored for school, making good money as an artisan… he had a lot to lose by being involved with this thing. I cannot figure out why he would risk so much, except that either he is afraid of the people who put him up to it, and it was that fear that led him to do it in the first place, or it is something spiritual going on. I know that he loves my family and that he didn’t need the money that they were asking for to start with (he could make it with 2 weeks worth of work). So something is really strange about his involvement, but he isn’t talking and won’t tell anything about the people he was involved with… he only told a lie (under torture) about who was involved that led to another young man being put in prison who is clearly innocent and very scared. So now two minors are in Haitian prison without having had a trial, in cells that are about the size of a two stall public restroom, filled with about 100 people but have no toilets. They throw their feces out the single window in the cell, and many of the prisoners are ill, some with cholera.
In the meantime, we are having trouble motivating anybody to really pursue this investigation. The U.S. embassy will do nothing. The Haitian police work slowly and inefficiently, and have not been trained well. We’re not sure when the end of this will come or how…. that’s about all I can say about it for now.
Sorry, I wish this was more eloborately told, but I have other things to write about and needed to clear this expectation.
The Apparent Jewelry was on Oprah (her wrist, to be exact, and thus also on her new show). That was cool. And I (Corrigan) am starting a big film project about Haiti’s children at risk… with some Hollywood help and a lot of great connections in Haiti. More on that to come. For now, I recommend reading Cami Franklin’s blog about her visit here. You’ll get a good look into a day in the life at the Apparent Project. She’s writing almost every day of her visit, so make sure to read the other days. It’s fun to see our work through somebody else’s eyes.
Until next time!