Children need to feel safe, supported and cared for, especially in times of crisis. That’s why we’re determined to protect vulnerable children living in Haiti’s many unauthorised and unregulated orphanages, often in appalling conditions.
Haiti has suffered from a devastating combination of poverty, political instability and natural disasters. After the recent 7.2 magnitude earthquake, hundreds of thousands of Haitians are experiencing food and shelter insecurity (see our Haiti emergency appeal here). The worsening situation, along with the damaging impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, has left many Haitian families facing a desperate choice.
There are currently over 30,000 children living in Haiti’s orphanages. Around 80% of them have at least one living parent.
Parents can give up their children to institutions because they don’t have access to support, falsely believing that their children will receive the care they need in an orphanage.
In August 2021, a non-governmental organisation (NGO) visited an orphanage in Haiti that they were financially supporting. They found children suffering extreme neglect and abuse. Tragically, one child had already died.
Desperate to help these vulnerable children, the organisation reached out to Lumos. We quickly contacted our government partners in Haiti and arranged an urgent visit. Six children in need of immediate medical care were identified.
We’re now working with the NGO and the authorities to help these children safely reunite with their families, where possible. Three of them have already returned to family care. We’re making sure they receive medical and psychosocial support and are using our links with local law enforcement to press for an urgent investigation. We’re also working with the authorities to close the orphanage for good and ensure those responsible for this abuse are brought to justice.
We’ve been working with governmental and NGO partners in Haiti since 2015 to respond to local and national crises, always focusing on the most vulnerable children living in the country’s orphanages. As well as providing direct support, we raise awareness of the dangers of funding unregulated orphanages and encourage a shift to systems that promote safe family-based care.
Eugene Jr. Guillaume, Lumos’ country director in Haiti, explains:
“Sadly, the children in this orphanage and their families are victims of a kind of exploitation we see all too often in unregulated institutions. Fortunately, these children are now getting the support they need. We must protect the remaining children living without familial care and suffering neglect or abuse in Haiti’s orphanages. With the right support, and with access to the right services, many of the 30,000 children currently living in Haiti’s orphanages could enjoy healthy and happy lives at home with their families.”
Photography: Heather Suggitt