Even before the January 2010 earthquake that devastated Haiti, an estimated 440,000 Haitian children had lost one or both parents and were at risk of abuse, exploitation, trafficking and abandonment. Eighty percent of the country’s population lives on less than $2 per day, and more than 320,000 of the 1.2 million people who were displaced by the earthquake still live in tent camps. More than 50,000 children live in at least 725 orphanages and untold numbers of orphans live on the streets or in make-shift camps. Worldwide Orphans (WWO) works in Haiti to provide psycho-social support, enrichment and education to orphaned and at-risk children, youth, and mothers at risk of abandoning their kids. Our camps, after-school programs and early intervention programs help children build friendships, self-esteem and trust through play and one-to-one interaction.
HEALTHY KIDS NEED STRONG COMMUNITIES
Our programs in Haiti are rooted in our commitment to community development. Haiti is the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, and with 46 percent of its population under the age of 18, the country’s youth face a future without employment opportunities and hope. Through our Youth Connecting to Children program (Y2C), WWO recruits 18 to 30-year olds and trains them to work with abandoned children from orphanages to provide structured play and opportunities to connect with a loving caregiver.
HAITIANS HELPING HAITIANS
Our youth caregivers are trained to work with children from birth to age five to improve function in the five developmental domains: gross motor, fine motor, communication/language, social and cognition. WWO staff members monitor the children every four months on their growth in these areas. The youth work with the children up to five days per week and are encouraged to use a variety of resources provided by WWO, including Toy Libraries and our Music-in-Motion curriculum. Youth are also trained to work with older children between the ages of 6 and 14 in after school and weekend programming to support developmental growth, learning and social connectedness. In the summer, these youth work as counselors and coaches at our camp and soccer tournaments.
The youth training model has been replicated in a hospital in Port-au-Prince, where young adults are trained to work with babies and infants who have been abandoned at the hospital. This model provides them with much needed income, job skills and a chance to build self-esteem and positively contribute to their own community.
Whether playing with infants and toddlers in the WWO Toy Library, or serving up arts and crafts, nature, performing arts, life skills, education, teambuilding activities at camp and in after-school programming, WWO’s youth corps of trainees are not only providing valuable enrichment to children suffering from chronic disease and the emotional scars of abandonment, they are building their own skills in child development which will serve them in future employment and in their own journeys into parenthood. WWO’s programs aim to stem the cycle of poverty and abandonment that is all too common in Haiti and provide hope to a new generation of children and parents.
Learn more about our programs in Haiti
Camp of Stars (Kan Etwal) - a residential camp for HIV+ children
Global Arts - bringing movement and music to orphaned and vulnerable children
One-to-One Program - recruiting underemployed youth to work one-to-one with orphaned children
Toy Libraries - a resource for orphans and the community to enhance child development through guided play
1 “State of the World’s Children” UNICEF, 2012, p 101.
2 “CHILDREN OF HAITI: Milestones and looking forward at six months” UNICEF, July 2010, p. 10
5 “CHILDREN OF HAITI: Milestones and looking forward at six months” UNICEF, July 2010, p. 10
6 L’Annuaire des Maisons d’Enfants en Haïti, Publication de l’Institut du Bien Etre Social et de Recherches, http://www.ibesr.com
7 https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/ha.html 8 http://haiti.usaid.gov/work/docs/governance/120425_human_rights.pdf