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Human Trafficking

Prevalence, Abuse & Exploitation of Street Children

In the first decade of the 21st Century                                                   

Republic of Haiti

Haiti is the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere with 80% of the population living under the poverty line and 54% in abject poverty. Two-thirds of all Haitians depend on the agricultural sector, mainly small-scale subsistence farming, and remain vulnerable to damage from frequent natural disasters, exacerbated by the country's widespread deforestation.

US economic engagement under the Haitian Hemispheric Opportunity through Partnership Encouragement (HOPE) Act, passed in December 2006, has boosted apparel exports and investment by providing tariff-free access to the US … the apparel sector accounts for two-thirds of Haitian exports and nearly one-tenth of GDP.  [The World Factbook, U.S.C.I.A. 2009]

Description: Description: Haiti

Scope and Magnitude: Haitian labor laws require employers to pay domestic workers over the age of 15, so many host families dismiss restaveks before they reach that age. Dismissed and runaway restaveks make up a significant proportion of the large population of street children, who frequently are forced to work in prostitution or street crime by violent criminal gangs.   - U.S. State Dept Trafficking in Persons Report, June, 2009   [full country report]

CAUTION:  The following links and accompanying text have been culled from the web to illuminate the situation in Haiti.  Some of these links may lead to websites that present allegations that are unsubstantiated or even false.  No attempt has been made to validate their authenticity or to verify their content.



If you are looking for material to use in a term-paper, you are advised to scan the postings on this page and others to see which aspect(s) of street life are of particular interest to you.  You might be interested in exploring how children got there, how they survive, and how some manage to leave the street.  Perhaps your paper could focus on how some street children abuse the public and how they are abused by the public … and how they abuse each other.  Would you like to write about market children? homeless children?  Sexual and labor exploitation? begging? violence? addiction? hunger? neglect? etc.  There is a lot to the subject of Street Children.  Scan other countries as well as this one.  Draw comparisons between activity in adjacent countries and/or regions.  Meanwhile, check out some of the Term-Paper resources that are available on-line.


Check out some of the Resources for Teachers attached to this website.


Haitian Orphans Call Cemetery Home

Tim Collie, Foreign Correspondent, South Florida Sun-Sentinel, Port-Au-Prince, Dec. 29, 2002

At one time this article had been archived and may possibly also be accessible [here]

[accessed 19 September 2011]

By night, they sleep outside the gates of the city's largest cemetery, huddled only a few feet from the graves of this troubled country's former dictators, presidents and wealthy power brokers. By day, they roam the cemetery's narrow walks and hidden spaces, doing laundry and hoarding food and water among collapsed graves, overturned coffins and sites looted by grave robbers.


*** ARCHIVES ***

The Department of Labor’s 2004 Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor

U.S. Dept of Labor Bureau of International Labor Affairs, 2005

[accessed 8 February 2011]

INCIDENCE AND NATURE OF CHILD LABOR - Estimates on the number of street children in Haiti vary from 5,000 to 10,000, according to studies by UNICEF and Save the Children/Canada, respectively.  According to UNICEF, in 1999 almost two-thirds of Haitian children dropped out of school before completing the full 6 years of compulsory education, and over 1 million primary school children lacked access to schooling.  School facilities are in disrepair, and overcrowding leaves 75 percent of students without a seat in the classroom.  In addition, costs associated with school, including uniforms and books, prevent many children from attending

Human Rights Reports » 2005 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices

U.S. Dept of State Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, March 8, 2006

[accessed 9 February 2020]

CHILDREN - Port-au-Prince's large population of street children included many restaveks who were dismissed from or fled employers' homes. The Ministry of Social Affairs provided minimal assistance, such as food and temporary shelter, to street children.

Concluding Observations of the Committee on the Rights of the Child

UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, 31 January 2003

[accessed 8 February 2011]

[36] The Committee welcomes the Act prohibiting corporal punishment (August 2001) within the family and at schools, but remains concerned at the persistent practice of corporal punishment by parents or teachers and the ill treatment of child domestics (restaveks). The Committee is further deeply concerned about instances of ill treatment of street children by law enforcement officers.

[58] The Committee expresses its concern at the increasing number of street children and at the lack of a systematic and comprehensive strategy to address this situation and to provide these children with adequate protection and assistance. In addition, the Committee is concerned that these children are used for the perpetration of offences and that some of them have disappeared.

Misery breeds violence in Haiti's seaside slum

Claire Doole, Journalist, International Committee of the Red Cross ICRC, Cité Soleil, May 15, 2009

[accessed 22 May 2011]

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has been in Haiti since 1994 and in Cité Soleil since 2003. Rob Drouen, head of the ICRC delegation, explains, "Haiti is a fragile state where armed gangs can be used to stir up trouble for political reasons and abject poverty fuels discontent." 

Even among the children. In Cité Soleil, a dozen street children start pummeling a young girl. It's not known why. But within seconds word has spread that a fight is on. Hordes of children with matted hair and ragged clothes race to the scene, glad of anything to relieve the monotony of yet another day with nothing to do. Weary parents pull their children away, leaving the shaken girl to escape.

Timkatec Children's Center

Robyn Fieser, Catholic Relief Services CRS, 20 May 2008

At one time this article had been archived and may possibly still be accessible [here]

[accessed 22 May 2011]

The worst day of Francois Peterson's life was not the day his parents abandoned him at the age of 12 in the hills outside of Port-au-Prince. It wasn't the day he first started sleeping on the steps in front of St. Peter's Church, or even the first time he found himself roaming aimlessly on the city's streets.  Francois' worst day was when he was reduced to begging for money to eat. "It was humiliating," he says.  It's a life Francois shared with an estimated 5,000 others who live on the filthy, sewage-strewn streets of Haiti's impoverished capital, Port-au-Prince.

UNICEF Director on Haitian Children’s Needs

Prensa Latina, Jan 9, 2008

[accessed 22 May 2011]

UNICEF Executive Director Ann Veneran noted the many needs of Haitian people, especially children, at the end of a three-day visit to that Caribbean country.  Veneran, who paid her first visit to Haiti since she took office as head of the United Nations Children"s Fund, noted that only 50 percent of children of primary school age attend classes, and 40 percent are not vaccinated.

Pacifica Photographer Inspires Haitian Street Kids

Sasha Vasilyuk, Pacifica Tribune, August 15, 2007

[accessed 18 January 2017]

In this small nation ravaged by poverty and political turmoil, children and teens make up 45 percent of the total population and are often the first ones to suffer. Thousands of orphans and children from poor families are driven to the streets to sleep, beg for food, and find petty jobs to survive. Some of them find temporary refuge in group homes, where foreign volunteers like Pantaleon can meet them and try to help.

Papouche is now 19. Pantaleon says that he is generous and kind, a little shy, and a really good photographer. Recently, he was put up in a rental room to be a good influence on his roommate, a drug addict. In September, Papouche is supposed to go back to school. Although Haitians often go to school until their early 20s, most street children older than 16 are kicked out of group homes to make room for younger charges. During that critical age, they receive almost no support. As a result, many of them have children, starting the cycle all over again.

Celebrating the life of Emmanuel ‘DrèdWilmé

Frantz Jerome, Bay View, 10 July 2007

At one time this article had been archived and may possibly still be accessible [here]

[accessed 22 May 2011]

I’ve asked but no one knows. Or maybe I have not yet met one who knows where Drèd came from. He was one of the Lafanmi Selavi children, I was told. Thus he may have been born on a street of Port-au-Prince. His mother may have been a “machann” or a “bòn.” I don’t know. But, a bit more than 28 years ago Drèd Wilmé entered the world and ended up an orphan on the streets of Port-au-Prince. How many days without food, shelter, protection and how many sunups and sundowns being a defenseless child, prey to his society’s more powerful predators?

One older Haitian-American woman who moved to Cité Soleil one month ago to practice her ministry gave an interview to a U.S. human rights delegation and Haitian journalists, stating that the youth of Cité Soleil are not animals or “chimères,” but intelligent human beings who are struggling to deal with the most harsh oppression.  She described Drèd Wilmé as someone who worked on behalf of these youth, providing them with education and food when the larger society was willing to throw them away.

Stomp the Worm - Saint Aaron to the rescue in Haiti

As told to Edmund Newton, New Times News, Apr 19 2007

[accessed 22 May 2011]

For the past four years, Jackson's travels have taken him, about once a month, to Haiti, where he has set up homes and service centers for street children. These now include an orphanage, with seven children, and a home for children with AIDS, with ten, in Port-au-Prince's scabrous Cité Soleil section. There's a naive, blundering quality to Jackson — whom New Times dubbed "Saint Aaron" two years ago in a cover story — that somehow overcomes all the obvious obstacles to pulling off his clearly lunatic plans.

New family, new mission

Brenda Blevins McCorkle, The Daily News, Apr 15, 2007

[accessed 22 May 2011]

Most of the time, these rural Haitian youngsters are sent by their families to stay with relatives --- godparents or aunts and uncles --- who live in the large cities. The children's parents hope they will find education and employment there, but instead the children end up working hard for no money or food and are often physically and sexually abused.

Imprisoned in Haiti at age 8

Manuel Roig-Franzia, The Washington Post, PORT-AU-PRINCE, March 4, 2007

[accessed 22 May 2011]

[accessed 4 December 2016]

The boys warehoused at Fort Dimanche are the products of poverty, child abandonment, rampant homelessness and an educational system that has failed to enroll 1 million school-age children.

Their plight reflects a country overwhelmed by the problems of its young — more than 200,000 Haitian children have lost one or both parents to AIDS and 300,000 work as unpaid domestic servants in a system of bonded servitude, according to the U.N. Children's Fund.

Children in the hands of G-d

Nancy San Martin, Miami Herald, September 23, 2006

[accessed 22 May 2011]

[accessed 4 December 2016]

In a nation of 8.5 million, where one of eight children dies before age 5, orphanages often are the last refuge of hope. Some 610,000 Haitian children are orphans, according to U.N. estimates. Port-au-Prince alone has an estimated 2,000 street children, many of them orphans.

Survival is Greatest Challenge for Haiti's Children

UNICEF Press Centre, Montreal / Madrid, 22 MARCH, 2006

[accessed 8 February 2011]

Violence and Abuse. There are thousands of street children throughout Haiti. Many children are forced to fight in gangs or become part of the restavek subculture of bonded servitude, where 300,000 children work as unpaid domestic servants.  Girls account for three-quarters of these workers. - htsc

Servitude's chains steal childhoods

Gary Marx, Chicago Tribune, Port-Au-Prince Haiti, June 2, 2005

[accessed 8 February 2011]

Many restaveks who flee servitude end up among the hordes of street children working odd jobs or begging and stealing to survive. One of them is Junior Delusa, a 17-year-old who lives in the Champs de Mars area adjacent to Haiti's gleaming National Palace.  Delusa said he prefers life on the streets to life as a restavek, where his host family was verbally abusive.  "They started humiliating me," said Delusa, who washes cars at a crowded downtown intersection. "They said, `Don't you see who you are? You are just a restavek.' Life was unbearable." - htsc

Street Children, Girl Servants Severely Affected By Haitian Violence

United Nations Children's Fund UNICEF, 19 April 2004

[accessed 22 May 2011]

The violence that brought about the change of Haiti’s government has had a severe impact on the 2,000 street children in the capital, Port-au-Prince, and on the 120,000 girls who work as domestic servants across the country, according to a UNICEF assessment mission.

The Killers Of Haiti's Street Children

Lyn Duff, Pacific News Service, Port-au-Prince

[accessed 22 May 2011]

When Titid became president he told the world that we street children were people, we had value, that we were human beings.  Many adults didn't like this message.  They said we were dirty and should be thrown out like the trash that we are.  Right now it is hard to survive and we don't know what we will do to find food and water. There are gangs everywhere in army clothes, looting and burning, attacking people and robbing those that are weaker.  A new government has no hope for the children of Haiti. I am scared, I think the criminals will try to kill me too because I am one of Titid's boys.

Haiti: Killing Children For Sport

CESAR CHELALA, The Japan Times, PORT-AU-PRINCE, March 21, 2005

At one time this article had been archived and may possibly still be accessible [here]

[accessed 22 May 2011]

Adults are not the only targets of police violence. Child welfare workers say the rate of beatings and killings of street children has increased five times since the ouster of Aristide. These murders are carried out by the police, death squads and the military.  Michael Brewer, director of Haiti Street Kids Inc., has described how groups of men who belong to military patrols in Port-au-Prince kill street children "for sport."

Children's Radio Station Gives Voice To Haiti's Future

Lyn Duff, San Francisco Examiner, Port-Au-Prince

[accessed 22 May 2011]

Started by a group of street children from the Lafanmi Selavi orphanage, the radio station is funded by private donations and supported by President Aristide. It gives kids a say in politics at a time when the Haitian press is enjoying new freedoms. With some 85% of Haitians illiterate radio is the medium with its finger on the pulse of the population.

Street Children Identify Themselves and Speak Out

Carril Desrosiers, Free-lance Journalist, Island Beat, Port-au-Prince, January 2000

At one time this article had been archived and may possibly still be accessible [here]

[accessed 22 May 2011]

They are children, most of them male, between 6 and 17 years old. They adopt the street as a natural habitat for survival, maintaining relationships at all hours of the day and night with other poor like them. They essentially come from rural areas and poor districts of provincial cities and Port-au-Prince. They meet in precise places at certain hours of the day and night. Their general environment is Port-au-Prince.

Street children and AIDS in Haiti

Bernier M, Ascensio P., U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health, Mar-Apr; 1995

[accessed 22 May 2011]

This study is a qualitative inquiry KAP about sexuality, and adoption and preservation of safe sexual behaviors, among the children of the street in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. Three groups of participating children of the street were observed in Port-au-Prince for three months, during June through August 1991

Rituals of Healing Encountered Among Street Children of Haiti

Amber Elizabeth Lynn Gray, Director of the Rocky Mountain Survivors Center, a member of The National Consortium of Torture Treatment Centers, in Denver Colorado

[accessed 22 May 2011]

[accessed 4 December 2016]

As our work together progressed, the children taught me rituals to begin and end each session, as a way to integrate the meaning of our work together into daily life (e.g., a simple cleansing ritual using water to retain the coolness of the dance after clearing the soul of excess energy and burden). At all times, the children stressed the importance of communal action in making connection with ancestors, asking for assistance and support, and discovering what must be done to take the right action.

Medical Basic Care for Street-Children in Port-au-Prince

Help for Street-Children in Haiti -

[accessed 22 May 2011]

About 3,000 street-children in the capital Port-au-Prince have no chance to get any medical care by private doctors because they are too poor.  Three times a week a German doctor, Dr. Barbara Höfler and her team visit them at their sleeping bases with a little mobile clinic to treat them for free.

Street Children Under The Influence Of Drugs

Carril Desrosiers, Free-lance Journalist, Island Beat, Port-au-Prince, April 2000

At one time this article had been archived and may possibly still be accessible [here]

[accessed 22 May 2011]

Through direct observation and based on investigations led by certain charitable institutions, such as "Foyer Lakay," a picture emerges. Four children out of eight confess their addiction to narcotics or dope: cocaine, marijuana, sansimilia, thinner, or the glue used by shoemakers. In the book entitled Lakay, un Foyer pour les Enfants des Rues  (Lakay, a home for street children), produced by UNICEF, Frantz Lofficial stated that these poor children, living in misery and daily hopelessness, easily fall in the trap of drugs and become their unfortunate victims.

Too Tired to Cry

Lyn Duff, Pacific News Service, January 12, 2005

[accessed 22 May 2011]

"Nothing is ever reported, investigated or even mentioned if it is a street kid that has been murdered...When the body becomes too unpleasant for the residents or vendors in the area, it is usually dumped or set on fire with kerosene. The names of those who are killed are often never known," says Brewer, who regularly checks the morgue and other known dumping sites for bodies.

Haiti's Street Kids Fear Killings By Police

Canadian Broadcasting Corporation CBC News, November 29, 2004

[accessed 22 May 2011]

Someone has been killing street children on the streets of Haiti's capital, and the kids blame the police.  United Nations officials in Port-au-Prince say at least six children have been shot to death in the past few weeks.  Several of the ragged, dirty children on the streets of the Haitian capital told CBC reporter Stephen Puddicombe that police come at night to kill them.

Save the Children Canada - Projects in Haiti

Save the Children Canada

At one time this article had been archived and may possibly still be accessible [here]

[accessed 22 May 2011]

STREET CHILDREN - In a country like Haiti where poverty is common, it is no wonder that thousands of children have made the streets their home. Once there, they are forced to beg, steal, prostitute themselves and engage in violence in order to survive. As a result, many land in prison, suffer from malnutrition and pick up infectious diseases such as STDs. There are approximately 10,000 street children in Haiti.

Man Strives To Ease The Plight Of Homeless Children

Dan Parker and Guy H. Lawrence, Caller-Times, August 29, 2000

[accessed 22 May 2011]

[accessed 4 December 2016]

Michael Brewer, a civilian nurse at Naval Air Station Corpus Christi, has formed a nonprofit organization, Haitian Street Kids Inc., dedicated to helping children who live on the streets in Haiti.  Brewer, director of immunizations at NAS Corpus Christi, decided to form the group after traveling to Haiti in May to visit St. Joseph's Boys Home, a facility that takes in homeless, abandoned and abused boys.

Helping To Pull Things Together In Haiti

Plan, June 15, 2005

[accessed 22 May 2011]

Plan, originally named "Foster Parents Plan for Children in Spain" has several ongoing projects in Haiti, all of which are geared to face the "poor health and housing conditions in urban areas, low incomes, bad farming conditions, lack of access to clean, safe water and poor access to health and education facilities in rural areas.

Plan Haiti

Consortium for Street Children

At one time this article had been archived and may possibly still be accessible [here]

[accessed 22 May 2011]

Plan's project in Haiti will work with 50 children’s clubs to increase children’s awareness of their rights and enable them to campaign on behalf of themselves and other children.

All material used herein reproduced under the fair use exception of 17 USC § 107 for noncommercial, nonprofit, and educational use.  PLEASE RESPECT COPYRIGHTS OF COMPONENT ARTICLES.  Cite this webpage as: Patt, Prof. Martin, "Street Children - Haiti",, [accessed <date>]