In Haiti, it is estimated that there are 30,000 children living in orphanages.
Sadly, most of these children are not orphans; eighty percent of them have one or two living parents who, due to extreme poverty and limited resources, are forced to make the heart-breaking decision to abandon their children. Without a family support system, abandoned children bear unimaginable suffering. The trauma and poverty-related stress children experience before and during institutionalized care can have lasting health and developmental consequences. Additionally, orphans who age out of the system are vulnerable to exploitation, gang involvement, abuse and prostitution. These risk factors, combined with limited access to educational opportunities, chronic malnutrition and poor access to health care, further perpetuate a vicious cycle of poverty.
HRI believes that every parent wants the best for their children, and that parents are the most important teachers in their children’s lives. That’s why we have partnered with families, community leaders and nonprofit organizations to launch the Children First Program (Kay Fanmi) at three high-poverty communities (slums) in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. The Children First Program is a whole-family, multi-pronged approach to protecting Haiti’s most vulnerable children from abandonment, abuse and exploitation. The overarching goal of this program is to prevent child abandonment by strengthening the family and community’s ability to protect children from harm.. The Children First Program offers targeted parent-child interventions that promote academic achievement, financial stability and strong parent-child relationships. By providing families with the supports they need to overcome poverty-related stress factors, children have a better chance to reach their full potential and thrive.