Monday, February 08, 2010

New Life Children's Refuge - Volunteers' Stupidity Is No Excuse

Nine volunteers, answering God's call to help children orphaned by the earthquake in Haiti, followed without question the mission organizer, Laura Silsby, founder of New Life Children's Refuge, to Haiti where they convinced several Haitian families to turn over 33 children to be cared for in a non-existent "orphanage" in the Domincan Republic.  Silsby had not acquired the necessary legal authorization from the Haitian authorities to have custody of the children and to remove them from Haiti.  Most, if not all, of the children are not orphans; their families have lost their homes or cannot afford to care for the children as adequately as promised by Silsby.  All 10 "missionaries" are in jail in Haiti, charged with kidnapping.  Eight of the 10 volunteers passed a note to news reporters during a press conference that claimed that Silsby was lying to the press.  The Haitian lawyer for the volunteers has been fired for attempting to bride Haitian authorities to secure the release of the volunteers.

Laura Silsby, is also the owner of Personal Shopper, Inc. of Boise, ID.  Laura Silsby and Personal Shopper, Inc. have been sued for more than $30,000 by several suppliers and past employees for non-payment and fraud.  Some of the suits have been dropped.  Payment was ordered by the court in several other suits and hearings on two suits are scheduled for February and March.  Silsby has been charged several times with driving an unregistered and uninsured automobile.  Silsby personal home and the address of record for New Life Children's Refuge was foreclosed on in December, 2009.

Two churches in Idaho partnered with Silsby for the mission to Haiti but only provided volunteers.  Like the volunteers, the churches did not ask for and did not receive verification through Silsby that the mission was legal under Haitian and U.S. laws.

Because of Silsby's background and her misreprentations of the mission and its inadequate preparation, many are questioning her motives for establishing New Life Children's Refuge.

There seems to be little or no question that the volunteers, unlike Silsby, did not know that the mission was in violation of the law.  Nor do I question the stupidity of the volunteers who followed Silsby to Haiti to collect as many as 100 "orphaned" children and transport them to a the Dominican Republic to live in an orphanage that has yet to be funded and built.  I'm sure you are saying that the volunteers are honest, well-intentioned Christians but would you have blindly followed Silsby to Haiti to "kidnap" 33 children?  Did these people listen only to God and Silsby?

Good intentions are no excuse for what New Life Children's Refuge has done.  What would have happened to the children had the missionaries succeeded in getting them to the Dominican Republic?  Although ignorance is never an acceptable legal defense, I expect that Silsby's volunteers will be sent home with no more than a hand slap.  Silsby may face a harsher punishment but I don't expect her to be sentenced to jail.  I believe she should be fined to punish her as well as send a message to others that good intentions do not supercede the law even in Haiti during this horrendous disaster.

Bottom line: use your common sense lest you find yourself in a Haitian jail or drinking spiked Kool-Aid in place like Jonestown.

1 comment:

Kansas Bob said...

Great synopsis Joe! Agree 100% I think that it is a sad commentary on the churches that supplied Silsby with volunteers.. it is why folks need to ask tough questions of the folks that they "follow".