An orphan prevention initiative of Help One Now focused on education, proper nutrition and family empowerment, in order to alleviate the pressure of poverty, keep families together, and build stability and opportunity for the future.
As the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, with 77% of its 10 million people living below the poverty line, Haiti struggles to take care of its most vulnerable population. In 2008, there was an estimated 440,000 true orphans (those without both parents) in the country of Haiti. After the devastating earthquake of 2010, estimates exceeded 500,000. Today, it is difficult to determine the true number of orphans in Haiti. Many other factors contribute to at risk children in Haiti. Parents may not be able to take care of their children because of social, cultural, economic, and/or related health issues. These at risk children are vulnerable to sex trafficking and child labor both in Haiti and across the border in the Dominican Republic. In fact, the 2013 Trafficking In Persons Report states that there are an estimated 150,000 – 500,000 Haitian children living in domestic servitude, subject to forced labor, beatings, sexual assault and other abuses.
There is a significant range of at risk children in Haiti. The children of Ferrier Village generally fall into two categories: those children vulnerable to serving as domestic servants in households, an arrangement commonly known as restavèk (literally, “living with”); and children trafficked for sex and labor across the border into the Dominican Republic. Since Ferrier is a border city, it is a prime location to rescue children in these vulnerable situations.
Population: 10.7 million (35.9% under the age of 15) (World Bank, 2015)
Area: 10,715 sq mi
Year of Independence: 1804
PEOPLE IN HAITI
- Haiti’s adult literacy rate is 48.7%. Youth literacy rates are at 72.5%
- Roughly 30% of children attending primary school will not make it to third grade; 60% will quit school before the sixth grade (Haiti Partners, 2016).
- 63 year life expectancy
- Infant mortality: 55 per 1000 births,
- Estimated 130,000 people living with HIV.
- Only 55.2 percent of the population has access to an improved water source (The Water Project, 2016);
POVERTY IN HAITI
Pop. Living In Poverty: More than 6 million out of 10.4 million (59%) Haitians live under the national poverty line of US$ 2.42 per day and over 2.5 million (24%) live under the national extreme poverty line of US$1.23 per day.
Orphan Pop.: 430,000 (have lost one or both parents due to all causes). Approximately 110,000 children (ages 0-17) orphaned due to AIDS. (UNAIDS, 2016)
HIGH RISKS IN HAITI
- Estimated 150,000 – 500,000 children living in domestic servitude, or Restavek (subject to forced labor, beatings, sexual assault and other abuses)g.
- 2019 Trafficking in Persons Report
THE LOCAL LEADER
Jean-Alix Paul is the president of Esprit de Verite, an organization that has started 10 churches, 4 schools, and 3 children’s homes, including Ferrier Village. He is also a talented business man. Jean Alix passionately believes (as do all of our leaders) that there are two things that are needed to break the cycle of poverty in Haiti: 1) people must know Jesus; and 2) children – and adults – must have a good, solid education.
In 2010, Help One Now visited the community of Drouin for the first time. The effects of the outbreak could easily be seen all around, there was a dullness that sat in the air. We met with local leaders and heard their overwhelming stories of tragedy and loss, and we visited a school started by Help One Now local leader, Jean Alix Paul. During class, a little girl in the back fainted and fell to the floor. After talking with her, we discovered that her parents were only able to feed her and her siblings one meal every other day…just enough to keep them alive. She had also not been drinking enough water, out of fear of contracting cholera. She was so dehydrated and malnourished that her body could not even sit through a day at school. But she assured us that she had to continue, saying, “I have to go to school, it is my only hope.”
Hearing those words, we knew we had to do something. We met with Jean Alix and asked what we could do, he replied “we must sponsor these kids, they have nothing.” At the time, we only sponsored “true” orphans, and these kids had families. Jean Alix told us to come back in a year, and then they would be orphans. Extreme poverty was pushing these families to the brink of collapse. This completely shifted our thinking. We can’t simply care for the orphaned, we have to care for vulnerable children and families as well, so that they never become orphans.
This was the birth of our “orphan prevention” program. Each day, kids can now come to school, where they have access to clean water, a snack and a hot lunch. Our sponsorship program is community based, so no kids are left without care. All 300 of them are cared for at once, even those who do not yet have sponsors.Over time, sponsorship funds have helped to expand the school facilities and empower local rice farmers as well.
Through relationship with Jean Alix Paul and the local leaders in Drouin, we hope that the investment in the daily basic needs of the children and families will create waves and provide opportunities for growth and development in the community.
Through proper nutrition, education, and leadership these children will have the opportunity to grow and transition into adulthood, and one day become leaders and culture shapers who will enact change in their community.
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