A Visit to Haiti's Orphanage

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Haitian girls in orphanageOn January 12th, as the earthquake whipped through Port-au-Prince, an orphanage in Carrefour where 42 boys and girls lived fell to pieces. The children—all aged 9 months to 12 years old—are currently living in a parking lot near where the orphanage collapsed. They are survivors—they always have been. At their young age, they have experienced two tragedies: becoming orphans at an early age, and now being displaced again by the earthquake. Thankfully Madame Tiresias and Sylvain took in the children into the “Service aux Enfants en Difficulté” orphanage (“Service to Children in Difficult Situations”).

Haitian OrphangeWe first visited the orphanage on our first trip to Haiti on January 27th when I went as part of the Puerto Rican “Mano a mano con las mujeres de Haití” (“Shoulder to Shoulder with the Women of Haiti”) delegation to set up the Myriam Merlet International Feminist Solidarity Camp. The director of the orphanage came to the camp ask for four tents because the children were sleeping on the floor and the rain was coming soon. Although we couldn’t go and show them how to set up the tents, we gave instructions with the tents. We also included red packages that contained sweaters to sleep in, little plates and cups, and camping tools. They later told us that when the children opened the bags, they began to dance from the unexpected surprise that accompanied their temporary housing.

Haitian boy colors in the orphanageOn the second delegation, we went to the orphanage and brought with us one more tent and an awning. Almost all the children slept on the rocky floor and ate from their small hands. Our tents were few, but they were the first ones that opened up so that they knew they were not alone and so that others would know where they could provide support. Little by little, the basic needs have been met. The orphanage received a donation of baby clothing on behalf of a young woman, Vega Baja, who had her baby in a clinic due to an intestinal obstruction, and decided to donate some of her own baby’s clothes to the orphanage. The boys and girls of this orphanage in Carrefour will remain in Haiti, and the orphanage will protect and ensure that they do not fall into the trafficking networks that swarm around at this moment. There are many orphans that have not had such luck.

Maria Suarez Toro is a producer of FIRE, Feminist International Radio Endeavor at Radio for Peace Internacional. FIRE set up a communications center at the Internacional Feminist Camp located between Haiti and the Dominican Republic and through radio has helped to give voice to Haitian women about the conditions in their lives. Based in San Jos઼, Costa Rica, Maria has covered the actions and activities of the international women's movement at every major UN conference of the past two decades.

The Global Fund for Women is the largest grantmaking foundation in the world funding women's health and human rights. Since 1987, they have funded over $75 million to 3,800 women-led organizations in more than 160 countries.