Many parents in Haiti are promised the best for their children when they entrust orphanage owners with their children’s care. But instead of the promised food, education and safety, children can be kept in crowded and unhygienic conditions, and used to attract volunteers and donations.
Before the coronavirus outbreak happened, we worked with the government in Haiti to reveal the conditions in one such institution and shut the “orphanage” down. Before this could happen, while the authorities were dealing with the emerging pandemic, the orphanage owner tried to move the children to another location beyond the police or their families’ reach.
Thankfully, we’ve been able to increase monitoring throughout the coronavirus pandemic. So as soon as our staff realised what was happening, we worked quickly with the local authorities to prevent the children being moved and reunite 20 children in the orphanage with their families.
One of the families we’ve helped reunite is 12-year-old Victor’s*. He was separated from his family when they lost their home in the devastating 2010 earthquake. His mother is just happy to have him home.
“It's true I don't have great means, but at least now my boys are in front of me.”
For Victor, life is better in so many ways. “When I’m hungry I don't have to wait for a specific time to eat, and I can play football whenever I want with my brother without asking permission,” he explains.
Thanks to our supporters, we were able to provide emergency support such as food packages to the families we reunited during lockdown to help them through the crisis. And we’re also providing immediate support to the remaining children until we can reunite them with their families too – making sure they have clean water, food packages and hygiene kits.
*Name changed to protect privacy
Photography: © Lumos / Vantz Brutus