Haiti’s children in the wake of the devastating earthquake

Yesterday The New York Times ran an article highlighting the plight of Haiti’s children in the wake of the devastating earthquake. It offers a haunting picture of their new reality and the daunting challenges we face in reaching these most vulnerable quake victims:

“Haiti’s children, 45 percent of the population, are among the most disoriented and vulnerable of the survivors of the earthquake. By the many tens of thousands, they have lost their parents, their homes, their schools and their bearings. They have sustained head injuries and undergone amputations. They have slept on the street, foraged for food and suffered nightmares.”  You can read the entire article here. 

The article emphasizes that despite their remarkable resilience, these traumatized children are at risk—at risk for malnutrition and physical and emotional health problems. And the many thousands of unaccompanied children—orphaned, lost, and separated from their families—are also at risk of being abducted into illegal adoptions, the sex trade, and child servitude.

What the article doesn’t say is that a large percentage of the children in Port-au-Prince were already living apart from their families in domestic servitude at the time of the quake—and how extremely vulnerable those children are, whether they remain with them or are abandoned.

For more than a decade, Beyond Borders has been on the ground working to end child servitude and create a better life for Haiti’s children. Our experience and the understanding we’ve developed  allow us, along with our partner organizations, to play a critical role in enhancing the reach and effectiveness of other international agencies seeking to help Haiti’s children. We’re working closely with Free the Slaves, which supports our sister organization, Fondasyon Limyè Lavi to:

  • train relief workers to register unaccompanied children,

  • adapt the international response to Haiti’s unique reality,

  • develop systems to trace children to their families,

  • and support the creation of child safe areas in the camps of the homeless.

Tens of thousands of children have been made more vulnerable by this quake. Your support for our efforts is making a difference on their behalf. We’re committed to these children for the long-term, long after this disaster fades from the headlines and the relief agencies have moved on to the next disaster.