When Mylouise Veillard was 10, her mother left her in an orphanage in southern Haiti with the promise of a better life. for three years, Mylouise was sleeping on the concrete floor.
“When parents send their children to an orphanage, they don’t really think of it as abandoning them forever,” Weiberg explained.
When she was thirsty, she would walk to the community well, carrying the heavy bucket herself. Food was scarce and he lost weight. She worries about her brother, who suffers more at the center than she does.
The story of some 30,000 Haitian children living in hundreds of orphanages scarred by reports of forced labor, human trafficking and physical and sexual abuse is a familiar one.
“Our idea is to free them from violence,” he said, inviting parents to visit.
In recent months, the Haitian government has redoubled its efforts to Take hundreds of these kids out and reunite them with their parents or relatives Efforts are being made to close these institutions, which are mostly private.
Social workers lead the charge, sometimes with just a photo and a vague description of where the child has lived before.. In a country of over 11 million people with no landline listings, that’s a tall order Many families do not have physical addresses or fingerprints.
“It resulted in a lot of abuse instead of trying to help parents like we’ve been trying to do,” he said.
“They’re almost like detectives,” says Morgan Wienberg, co-founder and executive director of Little Footprints, Big Steps, one of several nonprofits thatThey help reunite children with their families. “It certainly took a lot of perseverance.”
Social workers tour towns and cities. They climbed hills, searched among the mazes of tin-roofed shacks, and knocked on doors. Smiling, they held up a photo and asked if anyone knew the boy.
They found that some orphanages transferred children without informing parents, or that families were forced to flee violence and violence in their communities. They lost touch with their children.
Social worker Jean Rigot Joseph said he sometimes showed children pictures of recognizable buildings to see if they remembered where they lived.If it finds a parent, it first determines if they are willing to reuniteBefore revealing that he found his son.
Like more than 80 percent of the children in Haitian orphanages, Villard and his brother are considered “needy orphans.”
Haiti is the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere and the world 60% of the population earns less than two dollars a day. When parents cannot afford to feed their children, they temporarily send their children to orphanages where they think they will be better cared for.
According to government figures, about 30,000 children of the country’s roughly four million people live in about 750 orphanages across the country.
Many of the buildings were built after a devastating 2010 earthquake that killed at least 200,000 people. In the following months, the number of orphanages in Haiti jumped by 150%, This has led to an increase in trafficking, forced labor and abuse.
“In the last month, I have seen many mothers sleeping on the streets with their children,” she said. “I have dozens of mothers who ask me to take their babies every day because they don’t have food for them.”
A 2018 report Institute of Haitian Studies and Social Welfare and others concluded that out of 754 orphanages, only 35 (less than 5%) met the minimum standards and were allowed to operate.
At the other extreme, 580 centers received the lowest grade, meaning The government should order it closed.
In response to the report, the Haitian government has banned the construction of new orphanages and closed several existing ones, as dangerous as this could be.
Officials were threatened or forced to hide because The owners are hoping for a steady influx of generous donations from abroad. One of the main sources of donations to Haitian orphanages is American religious groups, according to the nonprofit Lumos, which works to reunite children in orphanages around the world with their families.
Sister Percy, who founded the religious organization Kizito Family in Port-au-Prince, said housing is a must for children whose parents cannot feed them or protect them from violence. The agency provides accommodation and free education to about 2,000 children from impoverished villages.
Gangs control up to 80 percent of Port-au-Prince, according to United Nations figures, and have been blamed for an increase in murders and kidnappings, especially in the home area of the Kizito family’s children.
Sister Pesci condemns orphanages linked to lucrative adoption business.