Drawing from research gathered for a report to be released in late September, Lumos CEO George Mulheir will underscore the urgent need for accelerated reform in systems of child protection and family strengthening during a Congressional Black Caucus 2016 Legislative Conference forum on September 15, 2016 at 4:30 pm. She will urge Congressional Black Caucus members and other African-American leaders to help build a movement for change ensuring that Haiti’s most vulnerable children are no longer abused and exploited for profit.
Ms. Mulheir will join the forum, “Haiti: Forging a Pathway to Prosperity”, with panelists the Honorable Paul Altidor, Ambassador of Haiti to the United States; the Honorable Simon Dieuseul Desras, Haiti Minister of Environment; Chad Bissonette, Roots of Development; Brian Concannon Jr., Executive Director, Institute for Justice & Democracy in Haiti; and Dr. Alix Cantave, Haiti Program Officer, Kellogg Foundation.
A recognized international expert in the deinstitutionalization of children, she said, “I intend to point attention to the scale and impact of the problem of abuse and trafficking of orphanage children in Haiti. There are approximately 32,000 Haitian children living in 760 orphanages – only 114 of which are registered. Many are unregistered and sub-standard and every day endanger the well-being and even the lives of countless children.
“Most of these children are not ‘orphans” but have families who love them and could care for them if they had the supports they need,” Ms. Mulheir stated. “Over the past year we have collected specific case studies from across the country – provided by eye witnesses from Haiti, the United States, Canada and Europe. These studies show clear instances of corruption, deception, and exploitation of children and their families. But,” she emphasized, “there are also proven solutions. We will share guidelines we've developed for documenting and outlining how Haitian children can be removed safely from harmful orphanages and where possible, reunited with their families.”
Founded in 2005 by acclaimed author J.K.Rowling to bring an end to the institutionalization of the world’s children by 2050, Lumos is named after the light-giving spell in the Harry Potter books and is an international non-governmental, non-profit organization. Approximately 80% of the estimated eight million children living in ‘orphanages’ or other out-of-family settings have at least one living relative. Lumos’ work draws on decades of scientific evidence showing that institutions have a negative impact on children’s physical, emotional and intellectual development and expose them to much greater risk of abuse, neglect and trafficking.