Young adults and single parents (usually mothers) who have no support system or prospects are left in dire circumstances with no way out. With more than 80% of children in orphanages having at least one living parent, it became clear these children are not true orphans, but they are instead victims of economic insecurity.
To prevent the abandonment and trafficking of more children through orphanages, HRI launched our Children First program as a whole-family, multi-pronged approach to protecting vulnerable children by empowering single mothers. This program includes an entrepreneurship training program whereby participants complete four months of business, finance, and child-rearing training. Once they complete a solid business plan, HRI provides a small micro-grant to help the participants purchase materials for their new kiosk businesses. In 2018 and 2019, 100% of women in Children First repaid their micro-loans, enabling HRI to reinvest the funds back into school scholarships for the same families, further demonstrating the importance of saving and budgeting for the future.
HRI’s Micro-Enterprise Program for Orphans and Vulnerable Youth in Haiti helps young adult orphans achieve self-sufficiency and financial independence before being forced to leave orphanages at the age of 18 years (the limit in Haiti). Our goal is to ensure that these young adults are prepared for life outside of the orphanages where they grew up. We want to make certain they will not be lured into gangs, commercial sex, or other violent and illegal activities because they lack the skills to earn a decent living and to care for themselves and their families. This also serves to stop the cycle of children being abandoned in orphanages due to poverty, as these young adults will eventually become strong, capable parents, able to earn a living and care for their children. While supporting children in an orphanage helps them today, the Micro-Enterprise Program will ensure generational change for these young adults and their future families. We are happy to report the first 20 participants had great success with their businesses!