Nov 30, 2020

MORE Steps Forward!

Youth intent on learning
Youth intent on learning

Despite new and complex situations arising, the exceptional Little Footprints Big Steps team continues with the vital work underway – sometimes pivoting and revising details and focal points - but maintaining the progress forward!

In late August, our staff accompanied local authorities & other partner organizations in providing COVID-19 prevention training in local public schools that had just re-opened. First schools were closed due to political unrest at the end of 2019, and then shut down a second time due to COVID-19 in March 2020. Students are eager for the chance to pursue their education. School not only adds stability to students' lives, but it also provides hope for a better future - both to students and their parents. LFBS staff Outreach team provided COVID prevention sessions to schools in multiple rural communities throughout the fall months. 

Unfortunately, many parents have struggled to send their children back to school despite classes re-opening. The economic impact of a nationwide lockdown; continuous, excessive inflation; and drastically fluctuating exchange rates has taken a toll on families who already struggled economically. In Haiti, the costs to attend school include registration fees, school uniforms, shoes, all school supplies and books, backpack if possible, as well as exam fees and often transportation costs as well.  Education is one of the most empowering forces in the world. Basic education also leads to successful skills training and small business start-up program participation for many youth and family members. 

Being able to know, and be proud of, their beautiful country can be a powerful source of healing, and changing outlooks, of the youth that we work with. During their stay in our Transitional Safehouses, we strive to take children on recreational visits as "local tourists" to help them explore and enjoy some of Haiti's stunning natural treasures - aiming to instill in the children a sense of pride and appreciation for their country while also taking some time to focus on their well-being.

Harvests from crops planted on LFBS land offer a more sustainable way for us to provide nutritious, organic produce both to the children passing through our Transitional Safehouses and to highly vulnerable families. We've recently harvested manioc - also known as cassava - which is a nutrient-dense, starchy root vegetable! Some of the youth interested in agriculture assist with the planting, harvesting and distrubtion as well. 

We are very grateful to have close partnerships with local child protection authorities - especially IBESR, or Haitian Social Services. Our team has been supporting IBESR with logistics two days per week in order to accompany them in documenting all of the children currently living in orphanages in Southern Haiti. This work will help in the prevention of child trafficking through orphanages, the identification of highly neglectful or abusive institutions, and the collection of data that will help facilitate quicker reunification for those children when possible.

Little Footprints Big Steps was involved with October’s International Day of the Girl virtual conference, hosted by Build a Dream Organization. LFBS Co-founder and Head of Operations was the Master of Ceremonies of the internationally accessible event, while one of the youth that has been involved with LFBS for the past 9 years, was a speaker on the Youth Panel during the inspiring event. This enthusiastic youth shared her story of leaving a neglectful orphanage, reuniting with her family and working diligently and wholeheartedly toward her dreams, leading the way as a role model for others, of what can be.

Every year, LFBS staff, accompanied by local authorities such as IBESR (Haitian Social Services), BPM (Child Protection Brigade of the local police), the local children's judge, and others host a meeting with the street children in Les Cayes. We speak to the children about their rights, warn of the dangers of going to prison, provide them with a warm meal (and this year, with masks), provide them the opportunity to speak up, and document them. We let them know that access to education and skills training is an option for them.This year we also did rapid psychological evaluations of the children. The objective of the meeting is to motivate the children to return to their families / change their lifestyles, and to connect with them so we can follow up and help them facilitate that change.

Two boys - oneof whom previously lived in the streets and one of whom had been in a situation of domestic labour - were motivational speakers at this event. As they spoke of the changes in their lives, they not only moved our staff members, but actually left several of the street children in tears. Over half of the children were motivated to reunite with their families and no longer want to stay in the streets - now it's our job to help make that happen! Thank YOU for making that possible!

November 20 was World Children’s Day. All that week, our outstanding staff facilitated various activities alongside local child protection authorities to draw attention to, and raise awareness about, Children's Rights. So often we focus on physical needs and rights of children - but it's important that we don't forget their emotional needs and rights. Children have the right to a FAMILY and an IDENTITY. How can we help vulnerable children and families in a way that promotes these rights and prioritizes the children's best interests for the long term? Focus on strengthening families instead of separating them! You are our partner in that important work and example.

We are so grateful that you are a catalyst for this continued work through your caring, meaningful support and interest – it makes a difference each and every day. Please share with friends, family and colleagues, and remember that you can donate as a gift in honor of someone as well!

 

Harvesting cassava
Harvesting cassava
Street Youth Consultation Session
Street Youth Consultation Session
LFBS Staff - World Children's Day
LFBS Staff - World Children's Day

Links:

Nov 30, 2020

MORE Steps Forward!

School's in!
School's in!

Despite new and complex situations arising, the exceptional Little Footprints Big Steps team continues with the vital work underway – sometimes pivoting and revising details and focal points - but maintaining the progress forward!

In late August, our staff accompanied local authorities & other partner organizations in providing COVID-19 prevention training in local public schools that had just re-opened. First schools were closed due to political unrest at the end of 2019, and then shut down a second time due to COVID-19 in March 2020. Students are eager for the chance to pursue their education. School not only adds stability to students' lives, but it also provides hope for a better future - both to students and their parents.

Unfortunately, many parents have struggled to send their children back to school despite classes re-opening. The economic impact of a nationwide lockdown; continuous, excessive inflation; and drastically fluctuating exchange rates has taken a toll on families who already struggled economically. In Haiti, the costs to attend school include registration fees, school uniforms, shoes, all school supplies and books, backpack if possible, as well as exam fees and often transportation costs as well. Please consider helping support one of the many students LFBS sends to school. Education is one of the most empowering forces in the world.

Being able to know, and be proud of, their beautiful country can be a powerful source of healing, and changing outlooks, of the youth that we work with. During their stay in our Transitional Safehouses, we strive to take children on recreational visits as "local tourists" to help them explore and enjoy some of Haiti's stunning natural treasures - aiming to instill in the children a sense of pride and appreciation for their country while also taking some time to focus on their well-being.

We are very grateful to have close partnerships with local child protection authorities - especially IBESR, or Haitian Social Services. Our team has been supporting IBESR with logistics two days per week in order to accompany them in documenting all of the children currently living in orphanages in Southern Haiti. This work will help in the prevention of child trafficking through orphanages, the identification of highly neglectful or abusive institutions, and the collection of data that will help facilitate quicker reunification for those children when possible.

Little Footprints Big Steps was involved with October’s International Day of the Girl virtual conference, hosted by Build a Dream Organization. LFBS Co-founder and Head of Operations was the Master of Ceremonies of the internationally accessible event, while one of the youth that has been involved with LFBS for the past 9 years, was a speaker on the Youth Panel during the inspiring event. This enthusiastic youth shared her story of leaving a neglectful orphanage, reuniting with her family and working diligently and wholeheartedly toward her dreams, leading the way as a role model for others, of what can be.

Every year, LFBS staff, accompanied by local authorities such as IBESR (Haitian Social Services), BPM (Child Protection Brigade of the local police), the local children's judge, and others, host a meeting with the street children in Les Cayes. We speak to the children about their rights, warn of the dangers of going to prison, provide them with a warm meal (and this year, with masks), provide them the opportunity to speak up, and document them. We let them know that access to education and skills training is an option for them. This year we also did rapid psychological evaluations of the children. The objective of the meeting is to motivate the children to return to their families / change their lifestyles, and to connect with them so we can follow up and help them facilitate that change.

Two boys - oneof whom previously lived in the streets and one of whom had been in a situation of domestic labour - were motivational speakers at this event. As they spoke of the changes in their lives, they not only moved our staff members, but actually left several of the street children in tears. Over half of the children were motivated to reunite with their families and no longer want to stay in the streets - now it's our job to help make that happen! Thank YOU for making that possible!

November 20 was World Children’s Day. All that week, our outstanding staff facilitated various activities alongside local child protection authorities to draw attention to, and raise awareness about, Children's Rights. So often we focus on physical needs and rights of children - but it's important that we don't forget their emotional needs and rights. Children have the right to a FAMILY and an IDENTITY. How can we help vulnerable children and families in a way that promotes these rights and prioritizes the children's best interests for the long term? Focus on strengthening families instead of separating them! You are our partner in that important work and example.

We are so grateful that you are a catalyst for this continued work through your caring, meaningful support and interest – it makes a difference each and every day. Please share with friends, family and colleagues, and remember that you can donate as a gift in honor of someone as well!

 

COVID training in schools
COVID training in schools
Street Youth Consultation Session
Street Youth Consultation Session
LFBS Staff - World Children's Day
LFBS Staff - World Children's Day

Links:

Aug 31, 2020

Important Work Continues!

Schools open once again!
Schools open once again!

 Although COVID-19 hasn't had the horrific impact in Haiti we'd anticipated, our preventative efforts definitely haven't gone to waste! We're continuing to take precautions and to help vulnerable families do the same. Having provided hand-washing stations, hygiene supplies and training to families in rural regions, we are now focusing on helping them with food security. In our Transitional Safehouses, we continue to take preventative measures such as hand-washing and limited access.

Every week, we purchase fresh vegetables, fruits and spices from the local market to use in our Transitional Safehouses. Since COVID-19 reached Haiti, we've been purchasing produce directly from parents who are in our small business program - which helps those parents generate an income during difficult times, while we get fresh organic produce without having to risk sending staff members to the crowded market place!

Local Social Services (IBESR) has started the process of documenting all children living in orphanages in Southern Haiti. This will assist in monitoring the quality of the orphanages, identifying those which urgently need to be closed, gathering data to facilitate future reunification of those children, and preventing trafficking. LFBS had committed to assisting with logistics in this endeavor, as we did previously in 2017/18.

As we began the documentation process, authorities discovered several new centres that had formed illegally after the 2018 law banning new orphanages in Haiti. They also discovered several orphanages that were so severely neglectful they needed to be shut down – immediately. LFBS assisted IBESR in emergency closures of two small orphanages. Fourteen of these children were placed in foster families. With your support, LFBS has been able to support them with medical care and other needs while their biological families are being traced. Nine children were placed in the LFBS Transitional Safehouses, and most have quickly been reunited with their biological families. THANK YOU for helping us ensure children are able to remain with their families.

With the closure of corrupt orphanages, there is an even greater need for local foster families when local authorities are unable to find children's biological families. These foster families are willing to take in children and care for them as their own - with no support promised by the government. Some of the children placed in foster families are severely handicapped, or are very young babies born in difficult circumstances (such as one 2 month old baby born in the local prison, whose mother has not yet been released). With your support, we can strengthen Haiti's foster family system - allowing separated children to be cared for in a family environment instead of in institutions. LFBS regularly follows up with foster families to make sure that the children's needs are being met. Many of the babies in foster care require support for baby formula and medical care. YOUR support allows us to continue to assist the local foster families during this difficult and critical time.

While Universities were closed due to COVID-19, our most advanced Agronomy student worked part-time with our team. This diligent student, and our Outreach staff, travelled to families to review the land they have available for gardening to ensure sustainable food security. Sometimes this meant several hours of hiking through mountains! We're so proud of our team and this young man for truly walking in the steps of vulnerable families in order to understand their reality, so that the support we provide will truly make a difference. Good work, team LFBS!

On August 17, many schools opened again in Haiti, trying to salvage the 2019/20 school year. Along with closures for COVID19 in March, schools were forces to close due to political unrest in the fall of 2019. We were able to continue private tutoring for children in our Transitional Safehouses and for some children who live with their families. Students are so excited and hopeful that they will be able to continue their education. Thank you for making that a possibility.

The local Civil Protection Unit provided hands-on training for the LFBS staff. The instruction and practice of the safe use of fire extinguishers and how to perform CPR on adults and children took place on the open area of the LFBS land under construction.

Further progress has been made on Phase 1 of the LFBS land development project! The septic field has been completed and the security gates have been completed and installed. Some of the crops planted on Phase 2 portion of the land have been harvested and will be used in the Transitional Safehouses as well as for distribution to families in our Outreach program.

We hope found this glimpse into just some of the activities that your interest, caring and support have made possible over the past three months – please with your friends, family and colleagues. Together we can continue to save, change and build lives and futures.

Produce from our local families!
Produce from our local families!
Children rescued from corrupt orphanage
Children rescued from corrupt orphanage
Agronomy student and LFBS staff
Agronomy student and LFBS staff
Staff CPR training
Staff CPR training
Septic Field Phase 1 complete!
Septic Field Phase 1 complete!

Links:

 
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