What is Scientology doing in the Orphanage Business?

Posted on September 6, 2010 by


On January 12, 2010 a Force 7 earthquake hit southern Haiti. Before the quake there were an estimated 380,000 orphans in Haiti; afterwards many more.

Two weeks later on January 26, John Travolta flew to Port-au-Prince in his Qantas Boeing 707, with his wife Kelly Preston, and a few boxes of emergency meals and other supplies for the Scientology Volunteer Ministers. He was given priority over other planes bringing qualified relief workers and medical personnel. His Boeing was a very odd choice for such a mission.

“Travolta’s fleet includes a Boeing 707, tricked out with multiple dining rooms and accommodations for a scant 34 passengers in a space that usually carries about 150.” (19 April 2007).
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/04/26/AR2007042601104.html

The Travoltas flew back immediately. With them went a local Scientologist, Claude Reginald Jean, and his four children. Jean is said to have dual US/Haitian nationality. His children had 90-day visas but were given scholarships, allegedly worth $10,000 a year each, at a local Scientology school. Early in May, Anais, aged ten, died after falling off the roof of the house where she was living with her family. She had apparently been helping the owner to clean out gutters.

From several sources we learn that prior to the earthquake Jean owned two orphanages housing as many as two hundred children. The word ‘owned’ is significant, as is the question of how he could afford to maintain two hundred children. His buildings were damaged in the earthquake. Before John Travolta brought him and his children to Florida, the deal between him and Scientology was complete.

According to Jani Dawson, in a comment to The Defamer on 19 February 2010,

“The orphanage is a done deal..the Scientologist have set up a web page and have 175 children in their care, according to their recent press releases and they are already offering sponsorship of the children. I am all for helping orphaned children…but Scientology just sees an opportunity to exploit and profiteer from the tragic disaster.

“A Mr Claude Reginald Jean, a Haitian and a Scientologist, ran two orphanages in Haiti prior to the earthquake. Most of the children are from the two orphanages. Mr Jean ran the Haiti Dianetics center (also known as Global Pioneers) there. Mr Claude Jean relocated his family and children to Florida on a return flight with John Travolta after the earthquake and his children were given full scholarships to the Scientology-run Clearwater Academy in Florida. Several Scientology front groups are raising funds to support the orphanage which is now called Future Haiti.’

There is no hint that “Future of Haiti” is run by Scientology. But the references given are fake. So is the photograph of the doctor with the stethoscope, which comes from some valid medical intervention somewhere in Africa.
http://www.thefutureofhaiti.org/

A Scientology press release dated February 1 confirms that the land for the orphanage was given to the CoS by Mr Claude Reginald Jean and that CoS was behind Future of Haiti:

Tampa Bay, Florida, February 1, 2010 – “Florida groups have united their talents to start the rebuilding process for Haitian children, by creating an orphanage and school, called Future of Haiti, so the children can start to look toward a better future, leaving behind a shattered past. The initial core groups are El Especial Newspaper, Church of Scientology Volunteer Ministers, Youth for Human Rights Florida, Clearwater Academy International, Washburn Academy, Delphi Academy of Florida and International Youth Theater.

“Church of Scientology Volunteer Ministers have been providing emergency services for the past 20 years and are currently on the ground in Haiti organizing this effort. The orphanage and school will be located just minutes outside the Haitian airport. Reginald Jean has donated a football-sized piece of land enclosed with walls, and many of the walls are still standing. And for the walls which have crumbled, the Volunteer Ministers are paying local Haitians to rebuild the walls, creating not only a safe space for the children, but also creating jobs and self pride for Haitians. Working with the Volunteer Ministers are three Haitian teachers currently taking care of the orphans and who are very excited about the opportunity to give these children an education.
“Youth for Human Rights Florida educates about human rights, and works to improve those rights. The group is busy collecting school supplies and already sent thousands of dollars for a water purifier large enough for all the children living in the orphanage, which was sent last Monday on John Travolta’s personal Boeing 707 along with 80 medical professionals, 33 more Scientology Volunteer Ministers and four tons of ready to eat meals and medical supplies for Haitians…”
http://rogueimc.org/en/2010/02/15834.shtml

As noted already, John Travolat’s Boing has space for only 34 passengers.

The shore story varies. According to one fund-raising newsletter, while working midst the earthquake disaster, to bring help and hope in Haiti, volunteers, as though by chance, found a local person who was running three orphanages. ‘All of them had collapsed, leaving the surviving children without shelter, food or water…and more importantly, a family. We decided to help these vulnerable children and found available land to do so. . . ‘
http://www.thefutureofhaiti.org/english/Welcome.html

You would never guess from this that Scientology had recruited Mr Jean in the 1990s.

Another version: “Basically there is a man named Reginald who is the president of a non profit Haitian organization called GRODYSH. They were managing 4 orphanages in Haiti. When the earthquake happened, all the orphanages crumbled. Some of the children died and the rest were in the streets. Reggie and his workers [searched] the area and found most of the missing children to bring them to his house. He is currently using his house and his land to house the children and keep them in a safe location and off the streets. They have found 116 of their children. He is planning to donate his house and turn it into an official orphanage. They are also in the process of building more rooms and will need bunk beds, mattresses, and bedding. The house is too small to house all the children, but they have tents in his yard. He has set up an Applied Scholastics program at his house so the kids are now going to school. The ages range from 2-16. The orphanage is located at 2 Impasse Jean, Route SOS, Santo 19, Croix de Bouquets, Port-au-Prince Haiti. Jean said he plans to go back to Haiti, however his business crumbled, so he donated the land to an orphanage. While his children continue their education at Clearwater Academy, Jean plans to help those who are still in Haiti. The school is helping Jean by accepting donations of school supplies and non-perishable food for the orphanage that is being built on the donated land.”

This story was also promoted on Bay News 9 by Melanie Snow: ‘Jean will go back though. His business crumbled, so he donated the land to an orphanage’. Gifts of school supplies and non-perishable food are solicited for the orphanage being built ‘on the land that Reggie donated’. No-one mentions that the school in Clearwater is a Scientology school, that Reggie Jean is a Scientologist, that he gave this land to the Church of Scientology, that donations are destined for the purposes of Scientology.
http://www.vimeo.com/9147509

Benevolence or business?
Let’s get this clear. Reggie’s business was the orphanage. It was his business which crumbled. The land was a walled compound the size of a football field, full of rubble and located next to the airport. In February it was being used as a holding compound where perhaps as many as 175 children were housed in tents and cared for by Scientology Volunteer Ministers. The formula, diapers and MREs delivered by JT were destined for them – at least that’s where most ended up.

The VMs have since moved the orphans to a new building believed to be at 2 Impasse Jean, Route SOS, Santo 19, Croix de Bouquets, Port-au-Prince, Haiti HT6310. The new Volunteer Ministers headquarters is in Petionville.

Restaveks?

According to an anonymous poster who has family links with Haiti, the chances of Reggie’s orphanages being Restavek orphanages are high. The overwhelming majority of the orphanages in Haiti are run in this manner. Often families will hand their children over to a Restavek Orphanage,with some promise of schooling-sometimes a small amount of money exchanges hands. Mostly the children are contracted out for labor. This explains how Jean can own and finance two orphanages holding almost two hundred children.

The children may work as street vendors or do maintenance, janitorial and manual labor or may even be trained as pickpockets or in other criminal activities (Oliver Twist comes to mind), or they do housekeeping and help raise children or cook but the sex trade is most profitable. What’s most common is they go to a wealthy family(by Haitian standards) who uses the child for household labor. They usually receive food and a place to sleep and any tiny amount of money earned goes to the Orphanage.

Most, rightly, would consider this slavery and child trafficking but in Haiti the majority of the population find it an acceptable way to earn a living. They keep little or no records. There is very little in the way of government regulation or government child protection services. The Haitian government is extremely corrupt. Violence and abuse occurs often but not in all cases. Abuse may occur within the orphanage, or with the host family…

Fund-raising
Fund-raising is channelled through a tax-exempt organisation called “‘Bless the Children”. This is not the 501(c)(3) non-profit organisation “Bless the Children” which was founded in Oregon in 2001 and which digs wells in Uganda (http://blesschildren.org.) but “Bless the Children, Inc.” which appears to be a Scientology frontgroup (http://www.blessthechildreninc.org) Unusually it files correct returns and accounts (see separate article). But there are definite links between Scientology and Future Haiti and between Future Haiti and Bless the Children, Inc.

The small print in the fund-raising brochure for the current CoS initiative in Haiti reads as follows:

“The Future of Haiti is a Bless The Children Project. Bless the Children, Inc. is a 501C3 nonprofit corporation registered with the State of Virginia, approved by the Virginia and Florida Departments of Consumer Affairs, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the United Way National/International Combined Federal Campaign (CFC/Unaffiliated agencies #10016).”
Impressive? Certainly. But, according to anonymous researchers posting on WWP in August 2009 and again in August 2010, the Virgina Department of Consumer Affairs doesn’t exist. The Florida Department of Consumer Affairs doesn’t exist. The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services does exist but “Bless The Children” isn’t listed with them. USAID has nothing on Bless the Children Inc. (http://www.usaid.gov/) The only sites produced by a Google search for CFC 10016 were its own websites.

What does Scientology want with orphans?
Scientology has been targeting orphans for some time, if their own publicity is to be believed. This press release by Narconon Haiti, a Scientology drug rehab front group, predates the earthquake.

August 06, 2009 — “Narconon’s most recent project, The Global Pioneers’ Haitian ‘Adopt an Orphanage’ group, lets people contribute directly to designated orphanages in Haiti. The idea being that the people can pick and choose from items the orphanage needs most and send it out with no middlemen. The current campaign is designed to get private food donations being sent to 20 orphanages in Haiti. These shipments will help feed more than 2,000 children of all ages. Once this is underway, other orphanages will be added. The products most needed to help the children include powdered milk, canned meats, rice, beans, oats, flour, multi-vitamins, oil and cheese.”
http://www.24-7pressrelease.com/press-release/narconon-reaches-out-to-help-haitian-children-111323.php

Much of this is small beer. A lack of transparency and minor fraud are commonplace in Scientology’s affairs. The rallying-round by public members and school children to help a distressed parishioner and his children is admirable, though it smacks of negligence to let a ten-year old girl work on a second-story gutter. To support 175 Haitian orphans is a great achievement.

But the question remains. Why is Scientology running an orphanage in Haiti?

Last edited 4 September 2010