Bad Orphanages

Because I'm a social worker, my Haiti is through a very specific lens. I was taught to examine all problems as a part of a system. Micro, macro and mezzo systems. Macro is my favorite system to examine, and that is why I love working in Haiti, because the macro system is the craziest part of all. There isn't a macro system- there is a macro mess.

Today marks the 5th year anniversary of Haiti's earthquake. I wasn't in Haiti then. I just recently got here, but I've climbed through rubble that remains, and I serve families still living in tent cities. I have been to many of the organizations, orphanages and government facilities that work to aid Haitians through their continued plight.

A systemic change I would like to see in Haiti is the development of an alternative to orphanage care. That's what we are working on. That's what our blood, sweat and tears are going toward...


My Social Workers and I went to 23 orphanages in 2014. By the 23rd orphanage, they were angry, worried, confused and begging me for an alternative solution. My social workers are educated Haitian men with the passion and skills to bring change. My first experiences with orphanages in Haiti, were also their first experiences and it was much harder on them than it was on me. I learned quickly that the first trip to a "bad orphanage" mandated a long one on one meeting with me to process.

And what they were all saying during these meetings was: "All those kids have families. They are not better off there. Is there someone we can call to stop this? Why is my country letting this happen?"

What constitutes a bad orphanage? children are hungry, children are malnourished. children uneducated, disabled children are neglected and dying, children are abused sexually and physically, children sleeping on floors, children institutionalized from their families and communities due to parental poverty.

These orphanages are rampant, and you shouldn't try to save them with American money- it's not going to work.
I train, supervise and teach social work to Haitians. In return- they train and teach me Haiti.
My social workers know their country better than any of us ever could.
And my social workers hate your orphanages. Systemically speaking.
Here's what they've taught me:
The ONLY resource Haitians have is: FAMILY. That's all, folks. If you ain't got your family, your screwed. So, what do you expect to come of all these kids that grew up locked behind a gate if we don't maintain their connections to their families?

Family and community are what makes HUMANITY.