Haitian orphans

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This story is based on a radio interview. Listen to the full interview.

Audio Transcript:

Dixie Bickel runs an orphanage about 15 miles out of Haiti's capital Port-au-Prince. She has over 150 children to look after and like many others in the country she is now waiting for help to arrive. Fortunately all the children remained safe during the earthquake. Anchor Marco Werman talks with Dixie.

MARCO WERMAN: I'm Marco Werman. This is The World, a co-production of the BBC World Service PRI and WGBH Boston. International aid is flooding into Haiti but as we've been hearing, it will take time for most of the aid to reach earthquake survivors. Meanwhile, people are desperate for water, food, medicine and fuel. Dixie Bickel runs the God's Littlest Angels Orphanage just outside Port au Prince. She needs supplies even though she and the children are among the lucky ones.

DIXIE BICKEL: Thankfully the orphanage stayed standing. We have a few cracks in the plaster and the walls but nothing serious. We did very well. Kids were knocked down but nobody was seriously hurt. We've continued to have after shocks continuously. Right now we're having one. Some of them are very large. At 5:00 this morning we had two large ones right on top of each other. It shook the house and windows. We're doing pretty good. A lot of our employees are missing. One of our people lost 11 family members. It has affected everyone. We are safe. The children at this time are safe. I don't know as the weeks progress, if we can't find enough food and can't get water delivered, we may not be as safe.

WERMAN: It's very likely this disaster will orphan an unspeakable number of children. Have you already been approached by people bringing in children who have lost their families?

BICKEL: Not yet because there is no transportation. They are not able to get out of the area that was hit. I have a nanny that left today to try to get home. She left her family. She has a 10-year-old son and a baby that is a year old. The baby is sick and dehydrated because there is no water where they are at. They are in an area called Carrefour. It was one of the hardest hit along with Port au Prince. She is walking to try to get her baby to bring it back to the orphanage because right at the moment, we do have medical treatment we can give the baby. There is nothing

available. Even if you have money, you cannot buy drinking water. Even if you have money, you can't buy food.

WERMAN: Dixie, there have been reports of airlifts for orphans out of Haiti to south Florida. Is that going to affect you in any way? Are you trying to get some of the children you are responsible for out on these possible airlifts?

BICKEL: We hope to. Right now we're not sure yet that the U.S. government will allow these children to come in. I am working on my end here in Haiti to try to get permission from President Preval or the director of IBSR, which is Haitian social systems to say that all children who are legally relinquished or abandoned who are sitting in orphanages be allowed to leave Haiti as refugees. They have adoptive families waiting for them in other countries. Their [SOUNDS LIKE] dolcies are now in buildings that have collapsed. We are trying to say let these children go where there is water, food and medicine so I and other orphanages can take in the orphans that will be generated from this disaster.

WERMAN: Are you confident that with this catastrophe those children will be fast tracked now?

BICKEL: All we can do is pray. We know that President Preval is at the airport. In fact, my daughter talked to him last night as she was at the airport trying to get a family out that had been at the orphanage. It's not easy but we are doing what we can to try to fast track this.

WERMAN: Have you actually been into Port au Prince proper to witness some of the devastation?

BICKEL: I personally have not but my daughter and some of our staff have been. They brought back photos that it looks like something from the Twilight Zone. It also looks like something that the Pic Photos you see at Berlin at the end of World War II after the bombings. It is just devastation everywhere.

WERMAN: I take it your daughter assist you at the orphanage.

BICKEL: She does. She said when she went down blood was running in the gutters like water, running out of houses across the sidewalks and into the gutters. There are dead bodies piled up along the sidewalks because morgues are already full. There are buildings that were built in the 1700's that are gone. It is devastation.

WERMAN: Dixie, you must have already started wondering whether things will get so bad that you might have to start turning away children from your orphanage.

BICKEL: Yes. If we can't get some of the children out that we have here now, we will not be able to take children in because we are at capacity. We may have to throw blankets on the floor and put kids on the floor and not worry about beds for all the kids. We may have to do that and we're prepared to do that.

WERMAN: Dixie Bickel who runs the God's Littlest Angels orphanage twelve miles outside Port au Prince Haiti. Thank you very much for your time.

BICKEL: You are more than welcome. Good bye.