The UN estimates that there may be half a million unaccompanied or orphaned children in Haiti, which has a population of just over 9 million. Around 200,000 of these children live in institutions, the rest are fostered or street orphans. Children in Haiti are orphaned for many reasons. The earthquake caused huge parental loss, it also caused many to lose housing and income for supporting their children. Lack of nutrition, health care, and clean water are major issues facing this country. Another reason for the growth of orphaned children is the rise of HIV in Haiti.
Orphanages in Haiti have many different issues that they face. One of the largest on a day to day basis, is food. Food is harder to come by, with shortages and rising costs. To purchase enough food for an orphanage for one month is an overwhelming concern.
This amount only covers a basic food allowance- usually purchasing rice, cooking oil and beans. Orphanages do not usually have access to fruits or vegetables. Malnutrition and low birth weight are common concerns.
Another large problem is health care. Almost 60% of children do not have access to basic medical care. Roughly 46% of them are not vaccinated, and 1 in 7 children die before their 5th birthday of preventable diseases. The most common health care given to these children, is a once a year visit from aid organizations that visit these orphanages. Even then, the treatment is very basic and general only covers problems that are minor. Hospitals and doctors in Haiti will only treat serious concerns and demand payment upfront to give care. Most orphanages do not have the financial resources to be able to afford this.
Having clean drinking water in crucial in orphanages. There are multiple kinds of disease that can easily harm children. Waterbourne illnesses, such as typhoid, cholera and chronic diarrhea, are the cause of more than half of the deaths in the country every year. The earthquake caused damage to wells and water systems, which raises a financial burden for repairing the systems. Temporary solutions for this are basic and not stable. There needs to be an efficient way to deal with this concern to help the problem for the long term.
There are soaring numbers of HIV in Haiti. 5000 babies are born with HIV each year, many born to parents that will lose their fight with the disease-leaving the children with no parents. Without parents or the ability to care for these children, they are often given up or abandoned. As a result, the number of orphans grows substantially every year without an end in sight. This epidemic is creating more challenges for those that take in the orphans and are responsible for their care. Education and prevention are important steps in this growing situation.
There are five orphanages that Team Redwood works on a routine basis with. Those are Deliverance par Tous (Deliverance by All), Ebèjman de Ofelen (Shelter of the Orphans) , Pov Timoun (Poor Children), Mesye Jaguar Lekòl (Mr Jaguar's School) and Òfelina Solomans (Soloman's Orphanage).