The plight of a baby lying in wait for a piece of paper that will let her travel for an operation in London has captured my attention over the last weeks. Last night’s Channel 4 news (Jon Snow and team in Haiti) confirmed a fact that I only suspected but needed to confirm in order to write about this. The arrest of Laura Silsby and her ten conspirators has led the Haitian officials to take a long and hard view of every baby leaving Haiti for medical care. I don’t think the Haitians can be blamed for this. The minister of health and his department are overworked and worried. The experts they needed could not be found. For example they spent days looking for and not finding a Haitian neurosurgeon to approve the operation for baby Landina.
When I first saw baby Landina on the news she affected me immediately. She had bonded with her doctor (one could see from eye contact) and her caretaker. She had enormous spirit. Having been saved from the rubble, an arm amputated and several operations on her brain, she still managed to keep going. Seeing her last night again, it became apparent that she was not doing as well and hours were ticking away. Even with the papers signed with the help of the Channel four news team (UK), it would take two more days to get her moving. She had five left to get to this operation.
I think this delay is, in large part, because of Laura Silsby, a very disturbed narcissistic person. It is extraordinary that one person’s very serious mental problems can have an impact on this baby and other children who are in need of operations not available in Haiti. The evidence for her disorder is abundant. She is in debt in Idaho and yet has said on various occasions that she is building a resort in the Dominican Republic. The contractor she mentioned said that he had sold her a house years ago and had not heard of her since. It is a money making scheme, her fantasy and she took advantage of the earthquake to put it into action. As I understand it, the resort was going to consist of an orphanage for the adoptive Haitian children, a hotel for adopting parents who would pay to stay in the hotel for three months, deciding whether to adopt of not and a compound of restaurants and shops. Laura Silsby of the New Life Children’s Refuge told Channel 4 News: “We may have been deceived by someone coming to us and saying: ‘The parents are dead. Please take our child.’ Because we’re taking them to a very… I mean, we have a beautiful place for them to go, and I can see how parents that were desperate, that had lost their homes, lost their jobs, would want possibly to have their child go to a better place.”
No one has seen the ‘better place’, When further questioned, she said she had rented a hotel for the Haitian children in the Dominican Republic until the resort was built. Of course, all these statements are lies. She has no money and her church is poor. I personally doubt that any hotel or resort in the DR would welcome Haitian children during the height of the tourist season or at any other time. The orphans would attend schools and hospitals in the DR which is not a rich country. Having lived in Miami, and visited the DR and Haiti, I need to say that Haitians are on the bottom of a very high social structure. I’m convinced that the Dominican Republic is helping in any way they can during this catastrophe so that conditions in Haiti stabilize and they don’t have a rush of immigrants coming over the border.
Silsby also lied to every parent and child she abducted. I doubt if she actually paid parents for children, but I have no proof. Thirty-one children even at one hundred dollars apiece add up to more then the reported donations by her church. The children thought they were going to summer camp, college and other fantasies that she told the parents. Five of the parents testified in the groups’ trial that they were unable to feed their children and hoped for a better life for them. I assume they were paid expenses to witness the case and perhaps a bit more for testimony. The so-called ‘missionaries’ were given a speedy trial by a Haitian judicial system said in reports to be non functional. Luckily, as Jon Snow pointed out, they weren’t Arabs in a US or UK jail.
On the trip to the border, Laura Silsby and her crew apparently gave the children no water and left them in the back of a van. They arrived at the orphanage in a terrible state, so much for the promised land.
Her ‘team’ consisted in part of her nanny. (I don’t know who is caring for her two children in Idaho), a man with two teenagers and a wife and a group of men who I personally would not like to run into on an Idaho street at night if I were a Haitian. I admit to knowing nothing about them personally. One suspects that all these people thought they were in on a money making scheme. One wife said knowingly when her husband gets home they will sort out who said what to whom. She was under the impression that he wanted ‘to observe the earthquake’.
What brings tears to my eyes is the danger this woman’s pathological narcissistic personality has brought on the injured babies and children of the Haitian earthquake. The injured babies and children she will never meet. It is impossible to locate most if not all of their parents (buried in the debris) and understandably the Haitians want to make sure no other children are taken criminally from Haiti. They will bring them up in extended families. It is encouraging when one person can make a positive difference but this case is a disaster.
I have sympathy for the people of Haiti. They need to find resources to feed and house one million of people. The so called ‘nonworking’ judicial system was able to give ‘the missionaries’ a fair and speedy hearing and a jail to live in with three squares a day and plumbing and two court assigned lawyers. (Laura fired the first) The detainees complain about heat and mosquito bites. Getting rid of Laura Silsby and her crew seems a good idea. They leave 31 children in an orphanage with no clear way of returning them to parents, who might not want them back. I hope they face the fact that they have done no good in Haiti and have left it a worse place for their misguided if not criminal intrusion. If they can face this with all the spin that will be placed on the story in their home town (most provided by Laura Silsby) they will have learned a valuable lesson. Laura Silsby and her crew have grown a much more serious cancer than my individual cancer which next to this seems unimportant. Her cancer has spread to every sick child and injured child that seeks to leave Haiti for treatment. Fundamentalism of course surrounds this case, but Laura Sisby is using fundamentalism and the tragedy of the earthquake in the service of her narcissism. My prediction is that she will never have insight about the damage she has done and she will continue with her self-serving schemes. It is hoped that people will realize that there is a lot of very good work being done in Haiti and continue to give to the effort. This child and others are being helped by Oxfam, Unicef, Medicins Sans Frontiers, and to end Latina’s story with good news.
From Channel Four news (London)
Landina arrived in London this morning, where she was taken to Great Ormond Street children’s hospital for medical assessment on her head injuries.
Her journey had begun last night in the Haitian capital Port-au-Prince following weeks of bureaucratic delays.
Channel 4 News travelled with British surgeon David Nott, working as a volunteer in Haiti, who has looked after the child for two weeks since her arrival at the Medecins sans Frontieres hospital.
The baby’s mother is missing, presumed dead, and has no known family.
At the Santo Domingo airport, Landina’s new passport was stamped and she was checked by a nurse before being put on a British Airways flight bound to the UK to become the only Haitian child to be medically evacuated to Britain.
The charity, Facing the World, had invited her to stay in London for six to 12 months.
After she has recovered from surgery, she will return to Haiti.