By dictionary, an orphan is defined as a child who has lost their parent(s) through death.
There are over 800,000 orphans in Haiti today. Of those, around 30,000 live in an orphanage. With approximately 750 active orphanages, this equates to each orphanage housing roughly 40 children and 6 adult caretakers.
What if I told you that over 80% of these ‘orphans’ have living parents? So why are they in an orphanage, right? After my jaw-drop response, that was my first question. Also, why the heck don’t these parents want their children? The answer to these questions are so much deeper and heartbreaking than the direction my mind immediately went to.
Before I answer this, let’s take a step back for a moment.
As parents from any country, you want the best for your child and will usually do whatever it takes for them to get the best of the best. In order to provide them with what you define as ‘the best’, what do you need? Opportunities and resources is usually a good place to start.
In Haiti, the job opportunities are far and few between, which makes it tremendously difficult for parents to feed their children, let alone provide them with clean clothes or an education. This forces parents to be faced with the most difficult decision they will ever have to make, “who can I find that will take better care of my child than I can?”
This is where the term Economic Orphan comes in, as this refers to a child who resides at an orphanage but has living parents.
Orphanages provide a sense of community and family, they provide food and water and in most, they provide some version of education. The food is minimal, the water is far from clean and the education may be as minimal as learning Haitian Creole, however, it’s more than what they are receiving outside of the orphanage gates.
Parents walk miles upon miles, sometimes day in and out, to find an orphanage that will accept their child into their care. Of the 800,000 orphans, the reason that only 30,000 reside in an orphanage is because of capacity limitations, so timing is everything.
Can you imagine dropping your own child off at an orphanage and potentially never seeing them again?
The People of Haiti
We say that money doesn’t buy happiness and if you have been fortunate enough to experience the incredible people of Haiti, you will know this is true. They don’t have an abundance of money, clean water, plentiful food sources, stable home structures, job opportunities, reliable transportation or education opportunities and this all becomes real when you step foot into their country but what they do have is love, a sense of community and extremely hard work ethic. What money does offer them is the ability to support for their families.
How Allmade is Helping with Orphan Prevention
At Allmade, we aim to bring something real to the table for the beautiful people of Haiti. Generating job opportunities and paying a living way to create a better tomorrow is not putting a bandaid on the situation. It’s breaking the cycle, it’s providing a hand up, not a hand out and it’s the first step of many to solving this epidemic.
So can Allmade solve the orphan epidemic in Haiti? No, we cannot solve it. We are not naive in thinking that there will be a resolution today, next week or even next year. Before the earthquake in 2010, there were already over 400,000 orphans in Haiti, so the natural disaster only added to what was already broken. There is no quick fix and it won’t be easy, but together by providing living wage jobs, we can help keep these families together.
By choosing to support Allmade today, you are choosing to help change the lives of others and break the cycle.