Despite its beautiful countryside and vibrant culture, Haiti has struggled to prosper under the weight of a long history of extreme poverty, political turmoil, and numerous devastating natural disasters. Since the deadly and destructive earthquake in January 2010, the number of orphans and trafficked and abandoned children has soared. There are almost 800 orphanage institutions in Haiti now–not just for truly orphaned children, but mostly for children abandoned due to economic insecurity. Ensuring the wellbeing of these children, preventing trafficking and/or abandonment through targeted family interventions, and rebuilding the fragile Haitian economy is absolutely critical for current and future generations.
Our work in Haiti focuses on improving the health and welfare of orphans, abandoned children and school-aged children at risk of abandonment/trafficking, utilizing strategies including nutritional support, income generation, improving access to healthcare, education, clean water and proper sanitation, and providing micro-enterprise trainings and loans. We are currently partnering with 20 orphanages to improve the quality of care. We provide daily nutritional support to 1,000 orphans and vulnerable children with locally procured food. Our staff in Haiti works closely with farmers and farmers associations in an effort to create stable markets and positively impact the lives of farmers and their families. Concurrently, we are also laying the groundwork to transition some orphanages to Community Centers where families at risk of abandoning, trafficking or selling their children into servitude can benefit from a large array of social services including our Children First program.
Guatemala is known for its mountainous and heavily forested countryside dotted with beautiful Mayan ruins, and volcanoes. Despite such beauty and cultural diversity, Guatemala has long grappled with internal conflict and extreme social inequality. In Guatemala, the most vulnerable and impoverished populations are young, indigenous and rural. Guatemala has the fourth highest rate of chronic malnutrition in the world and the highest in Latin America and the Caribbean. Nearly half of children under 5 are chronically undernourished. (Source: WFP, 2010)
HRI is focusing its work on rural communities located in the “dry corridor” of Guatemala. We are working to address high rates of child malnutrition in 5 villages through school-based and Pre-K supplemental feeding programs. In partnership with each community, HRI is also working on long-term, environmentally conscious community development projects to improve health, food security, income generation, access to water and nutritious food. Our Trifecta Approach serves families by providing a latrine, water filter and safe cook-stove to prevent illness which directly leads to malnutrition. Additionally, we have successfully developed safe spaces in three urban areas where we carry out weekly trainings and activities designed to build youth leadership skills, youth cooperation and participation with hundreds of participants who are at risk of trafficking, drugs, gangs, forced illegal migration, etc.