Helping Haitians Help Haitians

Timoun ki kriye nan kay ak sa ki kriye nan pòt se menm.
The child who cries in the house and the one who cries at the door are the same.

Shelter. Food. Health care. Education.

These are the basics that children receive at the two orphanages supported by Outreach to Haiti.  They also discover friendship, love and a sense of direction for their lives.

So many children in Haiti are homeless. In 2007, UNICEF estimated there were 380,000 orphans in the country, which had a population of just over 9 million at the time. Since the January 2010 earthquake, the number of orphans skyrocketed, but official numbers are hard to find. We support two places where children have found a home and a solid footing. Some of these children were abandoned. Some were simply given over by their parents or other relatives, because they are too poor to provide for their loved ones.


A class for the younger girls at Paula's orphanage held in the small courtyard. The older girls go to a school in the neighborhood.

   

Because there is no institutional system in Haiti to care for these most vulnerable, orphanages can be critical safety nets.

LE FOYER DES FILLES DE DIEU (The House of the Girls of God, also known as Paula’s orphanage) was founded in 1987 by Madame Paula Thybulle. She still runs it today. The orphanage is not far from downtown Port-au-Prince and has more than 70 girls in its close quarters.

Without this home, some of these children would likely be left to themselves on the streets of Port-au-Prince, vulnerable to sexual abuse and other violence. At the orphanage, the girls are welcomed into a family where the oldest (18 years of age) look out for the youngest (3 years old). Girls receive an education, with the aim of their becoming healthy adults capable of independent living.

The earthquake damaged areas of Paula’s orphanage, and sections of the building are not safe for use. Mme. Thybulle hopes that a new orphanage on the outskirts of the city will be built, giving girls a safer environment and more space for all their needs, including recreation.

LA MAISON L'ARC-EN-CIEL (The Rainbow House) was founded in the 1980s by Robert and Danielle Penette, who still manage it today. In late 2010, the more than 50 children moved into a new house on property in mountains above Port-au-Prince.

The Rainbow House was the first of its kind to provide a haven for children affected by HIV/AIDS. Many have lost at least one parent to the disease, and some are HIV-positive. The Penettes provide a safe and loving environment for these children, who have daily medical oversight and education and/or vocational training. Older children are mainstreamed into neighborhood schools, where the Penettes have brought a new awareness and acceptance.

Along with this residence for children, the Penettes run a walk-in clinic in Port-au-Prince that provides AIDS education, counseling and care. They hope to help in eradicating the stigma of AIDS and to teach the wider community about the proper treatment of those affected by the virus.

Since the earthquake, the Penettes have been involved in setting up centers within tent cities that help to assess and address the medical and psychological needs of the displaced and vulnerable children, teenagers and young adults.

© 2014 Outreach to Haiti