Investing IN Children
The 2010 earthquake drew attention to the plight of children in Haiti as 1,000,000 became orphans. Long before the earthquake, however, many children were already orphaned either through the death of their parents or abandonment by parents who didn't have the means to raise them. Added to the existing orphan problem is the phenomena of restaveks, children who are enslaved and trafficked.
The conventional solution to the issue of orphaned children is to place as many as possible in a facility that provides perhaps the bare necessities and lacks a true quality of life in a material, social, emotional, and/or developmental sense. HTF's vision that ALL may have life guides us to a different approach. HTF invests in centers that are intentional about raising children from places of extreme pain toward lives of hope, sustainability with dignity. These centers invest in children by providing faith formation, education, life skills development, and leadership development. Additionally, integrating children into their local communities and the larger Haitian community are important to our work because we know that all children need asset builders in their lives.
Fondation Tetkole Pou Demen Miyò (Heads Together for a Better Tomorrow) in Jacmel is an excellent example of a true grassroots assessment of need developed into an asset-building community for youth. Tetkole began with a relationship with one child on the street and has grown into a community center for more than 100 children that provides meals, educational assistance, and mentors who work to integrate families and the community in cultivating a culture of positivity and creative problem-solving. In 2011 Tetkole opened a temporary shelter where displaced youth can stay while Tetkole staff work to find family members and reintegrate the youth back into that family.
PAZAPA (Step by Step), a center for children with special needs in Jacmel, provides educational and outreach services for children with special needs and advocates for their integration into society. Again, PAZAPA's insistence on the value of every child to their larger community advances HTF's vision that ALL may have life.
The St. Joseph Family includes St. Joseph's Home for Boys in Petionville, Wings of Hope and Trinity House in Jacmel. In Petionville and Jacmel the family brings boys in from the streets and raises them as a family of men. Wings of Hope provides a home for children with disabilities that are otherwise ignored and even feared. The leadership of all three homes include men who were raised in the St. Joseph Family.