Haiti Mama Goes to Jail
In 2015, Ford Motor Company filmed my work in Haiti, and Mallory Brown raised $11,000 for one of my mamas while launching her now world famous 24 Hour Impact Campaign. My boys were stateside with grandma and grandpa at the time. Minnesota winters are hard on Miles, and while I was in Haiti, he was hospitalized with Pneumonia. I got on the first plane I could.
I arrived back in Minnesota wearing flip flops in two feet of snow, and started driving the three hours home from the airport.
I got pulled over in Monticello. Speeding. No seat belt. No proof of insurance. No drivers license. I showed the cop my flip flops and explained my current life status. He gave me ALL the tickets. Which I rightfully deserved. But, he let me go! He could have taken me straight to jail.
Fast forward to 2016. I was in MN for an extended period of time working through the trauma of being held hostage in our home by armed intruders. I met the Wright County Attorney about my outstanding tickets totaling $1200. I explained Haiti Mama, the transition we were in, I told her I didn't feel comfortable using any money donated to Haiti Mama for the tickets. She graciously gave me a new court date with time to problem solve.
In April, it became clear I would be returning to Haiti. I called the County Attorney again and said I still didn't have $1200 for the tickets, I asked if there we any other options. She sarcastically commented "You can do a night in jail."
"Just one night in jail will take of all this?" I asked astonished.
She laughed and said "Sure, if you want to do time for your traffic tickets, I can do that."
I had a ticket to Haiti on May 26th.
On May 24th, I showed up at the Wright County Jail and asked to spend the night. The jailers tried talking me out of it. "You know you can just pay your tickets, right? They could put you on a payment plan." I said, "Boys, I just took 10 MG of Melatonin in hopes of getting a good nights sleep. Let's do this."
I changed into orange clothes. They took my fingerprints and pictures of my tattoos. I had to wear socks with sandals. The jailer booking me in told me about the meth epidemic in their county, I told him about Haiti Mama. They escorted me to a little cement room, gave me a blanket, toothbrush, comb, and toilet paper. I slept.
The morning guard was super mean and treated me like a criminal. I kept reminding myself her opinion of my existence didn't matter. I was taken out of my cell where I joined a group of men and women all going to court. We were handcuffed and shackled for the van ride. The guard strapped the shackles around my ankles so tight - I held back tears for an hour. Finally, a 19 year old blonde named Angel hoping to beat her possession of meth case found a guard to loosen them for me. I listen to everyone's stories on a small cement bench for four hours while they were called one by one to see the judge.
I never had to go to court. A public defender pulled me into a room with a table and said the County Attorney was dropping all my charges like they never existed. She wished me luck with Haiti Mama.
I was free by 3 PM. I was in Haiti 24 hours later.
I believe- justice was served. I still pray for Angel. I hope she does well in treatment.
Fast forward to November 2016, I'm now dealing with the Haitian prison system and another $1200 bill. But, I can't tell you justice will ever be served in this situation.
A man drown in a pool at a five year old's birthday party:
I believe, if his government had offered him an education, he wouldn't have died in seven feet of water.
• the police arrested two people because this man drown. His best friend, and the mother of the birthday girl (Darlene) who was cooking chicken when he attempted to swim.
• Darlene, her husband Nicolas and their daughter Deda are my Haitian family. Darlene does overnights with Saraphina, and has developed a beautiful mama connection with her. Nicolas takes care of every detail needed to make life in this country work, Deda is starting English school with us in January. She's Miles' best friend.
• the official charge is "accidental death." The judge says someone must be held responsible for this accident.
• our first legal advocate said the family needed $30,000 U.S. in restitution
• we hired a new legal advocate
• Darlene has been in Haitian jail for 36 days for a non-criminal offense.
• The judge said Darlene must pay for the funeral to be released
• we pay Darlene and Nicolas $380/month for their work with Haiti Mama
• the family of the deceased can not retrieve their sons body until someone pays the morgue.
• the morgue started funeral negotiations at $15,000 U.S.
• the judge went to U.S. for vacation
• If we don't come to agreement before elections, the judge can't promise anything
• the family of the deceased share one phone between 18 people, and can not consistently track appointments and meetings.
• the family of the deceased told Nicolas they didn't hold him responsible and showed him empathy after Nicolas spent a week in tears of frustration.
• the morgue's price has come down to 75,000 goude for the funeral (ironically, $1200)
Last night, our Board of Directors agreed that we should contribute as much as we can to Darlene's freedom. But, we agreed we would only use funds specifically earmarked for this purpose to do so.
I get paid $1200/month and I'm going to contribute $100 to my friend and staff member Darlene's freedom. If I could do a week in jail to wipe the whole slate clean, I would have done so already.
My first year in Haiti, I couldn't understand what justice looked like because corruption complicates every situation on this island. God's answer was: Justice looks like LOVE.
So, I humbly ask you to help me free Deda's mama from Haitian prison, if you can. Because- Justice looks like LOVE.
This button is to FREE DARLENE
UPDATE: Darlene was released from Haitian jail exactly 2 weeks after this blog was posted. The funeral was paid for full through the compassionate generosity of our followers.