An estimated 30,000 children live in orphanages in Haiti, created for a combination of complex reasons – poverty, natural disasters, physical/intellectual disabilities, inadequate housing, lack of health and education services, etc. This complicated system, at times, actively, unnecessarily, and in many cases illegally, separates children from families exposing them to risk of harm, abuse, and trafficking.
As a result, there is now an ‘orphanage crisis’ not an ‘orphan crisis’ in Haiti. The international definition of an ‘orphan’ is a child who has lost one or both parents. Misunderstanding and misrepresenting this definition has led to the widespread belief that there are hundreds of thousands of children in Haiti without any parents or family who could care for them, when actually, about 80% of children living in orphanages in Haiti have at least one living parent.
Research has proven orphanages do not provide viable, long-term solutions for children. Many supporters of orphanages do not understand the lifelong impact of orphanage care on child development, nor do they adequately prepare children to succeed once they leave institutionalized care. In the worst cases, orphanages are rampant with human rights abuses.
Only 15 percent of Haitian orphanages are officially registered with the government. At least 140 are believed to have extremely detrimental living conditions where children are at severe risk of violence, exploitation, abuse, and neglect. Children in Haiti are particularly vulnerable, accounting for half of the country’s total population, and Haitian families face many challenges (extreme poverty, minimal access to quality healthcare, education, etc).
As the result of a perceived ‘orphan’ crisis, Haiti saw at least a 150 percent increase in the number of orphanages after the 2010 earthquake. Funding Haitian orphanages highlights the vast and, for the most part, well-intentioned drive to support children in need. However, it is crucial to direct public support towards family-based care, community support, vocational training, programs, and resources that respect the needs and rights of children and families.
Haitian mothers often struggle to adequately provide for their families. Because of this, a quarter of Haitian children do not live with their birth parents – some live with extended family, while others are placed outside family care, either in situations of child domestic labor or in orphanages. This is why family and community support is crucial in equipping parents so families can stay together.
What is myLIFEspeaks doing about it?
myLIFEspeaks Family Empowerment is dedicated to providing the best care possible for the children in our care and the families that need our help. myLIFEspeaks is also committed to educating our team members and supporters on the challenges facing children and families in Haiti.
Services and resources like quality and affordable healthcare, low-cost therapies, feeding and nutrition programs, family-based care for children, vocational training and employment opportunities, and much more and all work together to provide the crucial family and community support needed for families to stay together.
Please contact us for additional information and resources about the Orphanage Crisis in Haiti.
Orphanage Crisis Resources