This Tuesday, Independent Lens presents the documentary Children of Haiti, one year after the country was rocked by a devastating earthquake. The film follows three Haitian teenage boys who live on the streets as they reflect on their country, their lives, and the hope they have for a better future. Regine Zamor is one of the producers of Children of Haiti and offered BTB this report about the countries recovery efforts a year later, and ways viewers can help.
In just a few days Haiti will commemorate its most recent national holiday, January 12, 2011. As we grow closer to the date people are saying that there have been small aftershocks; some are afraid of the chance of another earthquake, and everyone I have spoken with has expressed that they are feeling anxious — myself included.
On this day last year, Haiti was about to experience devastation that no one — not the UN, not Haitians, and not NGOs — had ever seen before. One year later we are still traumatized and preparing to relive our trauma. Today we are survivors and heroes. We live and work to survive through the country’s complicated journey to recovery. The universe has offered a space for Haiti to change and for the crew of Children of Haiti to share a powerful piece of work at a time when the children of Haiti matter the most.
When you see the boys telling their stories, traveling through their city, and taking you on a journey through their lives over the course of several years, there is one thing to keep in mind: why are they there and how did this happen? Much of the work that began through the production and outreach of the film has led to real community development work with Richard Morse of the band RAM, the villagers of Bar Gormand, and the community of Carrefour Feuilles.
The issues surrounding unaccompanied/orphaned children in Haiti have more to do with economics and education than anything else. Did these children’s families give them to others in the cities to become restaveks —the equivalent of child slaves — or were the children forced to take to the streets themselves? No matter the circumstances, the common thread is that their familial and community support system is too weak to sustain them. Haiti is a lot more fragile than before, yet the possibilities exist for a change that everyone has been waiting for. Solving the problem of street children means addressing the fact that these children’s families cannot support them.
Understanding Haiti, its people, and its future requires seeing the country through the eyes of its youth, who make up the majority of its population. We aim to keep Haiti relevant by facilitating the voice of the children, sharing it with the world, and promoting local organizations that focus on community development and the reintegration of children back to their families and communities.
Please take a minute to learn about some of the organizations below and ways you can help the recovery efforts in Haiti.
• Haitian Women for Haitian Refugees Empowers low-wage immigrants so that they can fight for dignity and justice in their working and living conditions.
• The Lambi Fund of Haiti Assists the popular, democratic movement in Haiti with a goal of strengthening civil society as a necessary foundation of democracy and development. The fund channels financial and other resources to community-based organizations that promote the social and economic empowerment of the Haitian people.
• Haiti Soleil A mission to build and develop community-centered public libraries, museums, and other institutions of educational and cultural exchange focused on advancing the intellectual growth of young Haitian citizens.
• Kids Alive - Haiti They are in Cap-Haitian and Port-au-Prince, and headquarters in Indianapolis. They are currently helping the street boys and street kids.
• SOIL This is a non-profit dedicating to protecting soil resources, empowering communities, and transforming waste into resources. They also have a division where they help children through community projects and education.
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