New Teen Clubs in Haiti Defend the Rights of Children

Linda, a leader in one of Beyond Borders’ newly created Teen Clubs, was preparing for a club gathering in her Port-au-Prince neighborhood one afternoon when she heard a bloodcurdling scream.

“It was the kind of scream that made you think someone was in danger,” Linda said.

Teen Club members go door-to-door in their neighborhood to promote the rights of children.

What Linda and those with her discovered when they went outside was a 13-year-old girl being beaten and dragged by a man.

“Let me go”

“She didn’t want to walk so he was dragging her, kicking her, and beating her with his belt as she repeatedly screamed, ‘let me go!’’” Linda explained.

Linda and those with her acted quickly, ordering the man to let the girl go. When he refused, Linda identified herself and the group as Child Rights Activists.

Last fall, Beyond Borders launched five clubs in Port-au-Prince for teens like Linda who are between 13 and 17-years-old.

“Our new teen clubs are one piece of a larger strategy in these neighborhoods that includes adult Child Protection Brigades and a growing network of Adult Survivors of Child Slavery,” said David Diggs, Beyond Borders’ executive director.

Age-Appropriate Child Rights Training

Teen club members are given age-appropriate Child Rights Training and each club has an adult focal point from the neighborhood Child Protection Brigade or Adult Survivors Network that club members can turn to for support and guidance when they encounter a case of abuse.

“We told [the man beating the girl] that if he didn’t let her go right now he’d face serious consequences,” Linda recounted.

Teen Club members with their adult focal point from the neighborhood Child Protection Brigade, in the Mòn Laza neighborhood of Port-au-Prince.

The man let the girl go, and Linda and the others took her to the office of a local community organization they often partner with, where they got help from adult neighbors and called the girl’s mother, who quickly came to get her.

“She’d been gone from home for three days,” Linda said, “and they were searching for her.”

More drama ensued when the girl’s mother arrived and began to beat her too. “We talked to her mother, calmed her down, and she promised not to hit her anymore,” Linda said. Linda and her fellow club members also invited the 13-year-old to join their club, and the girl’s mother agreed.

Organizing Their Fellow Teens

“These teens aren’t just working to raise awareness among adults about the rights of children,” Guyto Desrosiers, Beyond Borders Child Rights Program Coordinator, said. “They’re organizing their fellow teens too.”

Clubs organize child rights awareness-raising events for people of all ages, and club members receive ongoing training and support from their adult focal point and Beyond Borders’ Child Protection Team.

“Every community is different,” Linda said as she talked about the challenges that she and her fellow club members encounter going door-to-door to talk with their neighbors about protecting children from slavery and abuse.

“It’s sad when you find a majority of people in a community who aren’t interested in the rights of children,” she added.

Success: Beatings Replaced by Dialogue

But a week later, when Linda and other club members visited the home of the girl who they’d intervened to help, they learned that their work had been a success. The mother and her daughter explained that the beatings had been replaced by dialogue.

Global Giving’s Youth Week, Aug. 6-12

During Global Giving’s Youth Week Aug. 6-12, you can create a new recurring gift to support Beyond Borders’ work with youth and get your gift matched.

Visit our page on Global Giving, scroll down and select one of our two projects focusing on youth, Schools Not Slavery for Rural Haitian Children or Free, Educate and Empower Girls in Haiti and create a recurring gift from now until Aug. 12.

Thank You for Your Generosity

Thank you for your generosity, your care, and your concern for youth in Haiti. We are grateful for your support!