ruska village

I just saw this special that AlJeezara did on the Ruska Village orphanage in Haiti. It's definitely worth a watch. I think it is some of the most comprehensive and honest coverage I have seen about life post-earthquake, and about how difficult things are for those who live in Port-au-Prince.

It was surreal to watch this, because we visited this orphanage the night before the earthquake. I spoke with all three of the women interviewed here. I can tell you that they were very different that night than they are in these interviews. I think anyone in Port-Au-Prince right now has to be struggling with some post-traumatic stress. If you watch all the way through (which you should), there is a poignant segment where one of the American missionaries discloses how desperate she is to go home and see her family, and yet how convicted she feels to stay and care for these children. There is also a rather funny moment when Barbara announces that one of the children has been given a visa to go to the US, and one of the nannies pretends to dramatically cry that it isn't her turn to go.

Barbara Walker is a person of legend in Haiti. She has lived there for 20 years. I've met her a few times and she is tough as nails. She wears a blue housedress every single day, and rumor has it she carries a pistol in her bra. She cares very deeply about the children of Haiti, and I think it's inspiring to see the way her orphanage is now caring for her surrounding community. At the same time, my heart continues to break for the hardships the Haitain people continue to endure.


  1. My husband and I were so surprised but what a great piece of journalism this was. The quality is incredible. However, we are little biased. We have so much respect for "our" Barb (and Lawanna). She is a miracle worker in our eyes.

  2. I met Barbara Walker in 2007 when we went to pick up our son. Tough as nails. Very accurate. :)

  3. Anonymous2:15 PM

    Hi! I'm a new "stalker" of your blog and let me say... I LOVE IT! Thank you for sharing your heart. Not even sure how I found you a few weeks ago, but have enjoyed it so much. This video has me broken before the Lord right now. Thank you for sharing.
    Blessings, Stephanie

  4. I watched this clip more than once. I went to bed in tears. I cried for Stephen's birth mother.

    Let us please, please, please remember that for every child who is sent abroad for adoption, there is a mother who is grieving the loss of that child. I talked about this with my husband. He said that he doubts I would ever give up our boys, no matter the circumstances. Well, in the US, poverty is not a reason to give up your children. We have safety nets. Lose you job? Savings, unemployment, sell something of value, loan from family/friends. Lose your home? Family/friends' couches, homeless shelter, your car. No food? Food stamps, soup kitchen. Overly simplistic, but you get the point. In Haiti? Uh, good luck to you! Love your kid and have no food to feed him/her? Hand him/her over to someone else or leave him/her somewhere with the hope that someone will pick him/her up and hope for the best. Most people believe the next situation can't be any worse than the one they are in.

    What's my point? I'm not seeming much compassion for Haitian birth mothers. We praise American birthmothers for selflessly putting their babies up for adoption. Not seeing any of that for the Haitian mothers. Why? Probably because she is not "mainstream" and not someone "we" identify with. We're probably judging her. I identify with her. I could have been her. She could have been my sister, my cousin, my best friend, or my neighbor. She could have been my mother. The difference between her and me? I was born in the US. I have options (maybe too many!). I don't have to give up my sons if I become poor. Haitian birth mothers are selflessly handing their children over to strangers with the hope that their children will get a better life with another mother. Imagine that! Let's show these mothers compassion and pray for peace in their hearts and minds. Putting an orphan on a plane headed out of Haiti is a joyous occasion, but it is equally one of sadness. A birth mother grieves.

    I pray that viewers will remember that the missionaries are under considerable stress and that this stress will taint their views of Haiti. Haiti is not a depressed place that is full of sin. That is overly simplistic and blames the earthquake victims for their current plight. It is quite possible that this video was edited and does not fully reflect the thoughts and beliefs of the missionaries. Many people are learning about Haiti for the first time and will blindly believe a flip comment made by someone under tremendous strain. I am sure the missionaries are well intentioned.

    Kristen, sorry for highjacking your blog once again to express my views. Feel free to ask me to move along.


  5. Gretchen in HB1:19 PM

    God bless Barbara, and all of the men and women working so thanklessly and tirelessly in such a time of great need. Admirable and inspirational.

  6. I just cannot comprehend being so poor that I would have to give my child away. My heart just breaks for those mothers and fathers. God bless them, God bless Barbara and her team, God bless the Haitians and God bless you. Thank you for sharing this story and your experiences.

  7. Luci, I don't mind at all. In fact I had meant to write that while I respect what Barbara does, I do think she is too negative about Haiti. I don't agree with her there.

    I was also heartbroken seeing that mom kiss her son goodbye. My daughter is about the same age as that little boy, so I thought of me having to do the same thing. I cannot even imagine. I agree that this would not happen in the states. We don't realize how many services we have to help women and children.

    I hope I've never come off as not having compassion for birthmoms. My son's birthmom died two years ago so I haven't talked about her recently, but I was very grieved to learn she passed away. I have a picture of her with Kembe and I'm so glad to have that for him. I agree that these birthmoms are doing the unthinkable. I can't imagine that pain, and I hope that we can all identify with them as mothers.

  8. Embedded that video on today's post.


  9. Thank you so much for posting this (and for Michelle seeing it) - it's exactly what I needed to see right now.

  10. Hi Kristen,

    I didn't at all mean to imply that you lack compassion for the birthmothers. I was responding to the clip. Removing a child from Haiti is always portrayed as a happy occasion and there is never any mention of the loss to the birth parents. The focus is rightfully on the orphans, but we should keep in mind that not every child given up for adoption in Haiti is parent-less. Giving up a child is incredibly selfless and shows desperation to a level I cannot even begin to imagine.

    I don't fault Barbara for her remarks. This is the world she is in. Barbara and other missionaries are in Haiti to work with people who are in situations unimaginable to the rest of us. They're not in Haiti to hang out with the people who are doing well. I bet even I would start hating Haiti if I was in the thick of such desperation and misery every waking moment. But, the pre-earthquake misery and desperation is only one aspect of Haiti. Like everything else in Haiti, it are complicated.

    I pray for Barbara and for the other missionaries. Their work is invaluable and appreciated. I really hope they will give themselves permission to leave for a break. They can only help others if they remain healthy -- physically, mentally, and spiritually. So, if you're friends with these (or any other) missionaries please encourage them to take a break. They are not abandoning the flock, they are simply taking time off to make sure they can keep doing this work.

    Thanks Kristen for letting me share my views.

    Warmest regards,

  11. Anonymous7:06 PM

    I think unless you have spent a fair amount of time at Ruuska village and around Barbara Walker, you are not really qualified say she is a hero. I saw many things while in the village that I am still in shock over. My first trip to Haiti I watched as Joe Hurston and his wife Cindy of Air mobile Ministries convince birth parents that they should be able to keep the child that they had taken to the US on a medical visa. These parents sat with tears streaming down their faces as they were told about the many things they would never be able to do for their daughter and opportunities she would have in the US. If they really cared about this little girl they would have loved her enough to realize you can NOT replace birth parents. They could have helped support the parents. These were parents that were married, loved eachother and this was their one and only child. They believed the lies and gave her up. All the while Barbara Walker turned her head to this. That is not a hero in my book. I could tell quite a few more stories and share a few bullying emails but I'll keep it at that for now.


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