Through a street census in 2006, we found that Haitian street kids are the most vulnerable group in Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic. At an average age of 14, but some much younger, all male, some of these kids were living as slaves, sent to street vend for long days, never given a break. We began a day program that turned into a residential program where we provide a secure home, meals, schooling, recreation, vocational training, and guidance.
With Haiti being in an extremely depressed state, many youth (as well as adults) come to the Dominican Republic "in search of life". With Haiti also having a history of slavery, many Haitians still enslave other Haitians in a system called restavek. This post (http://projectesperanza.wordpress.com/2011/12/28/featuring-willy-denis/) is an insightful example from one of our beneficiaries. Given promises of a better life, kids are brought over and forced to work day after day as slaves.
We run a group home where they receive meals, clothing, health care, and school which provides classical education (reading, writing, math, science, social sciences, bible, languages), as well as vocational training. We provide recreation through a soccer team and have begun a small business as well. For young men who graduate from the home, we continue to provide some support. We have a piece of land which we hope to construct a home and school to serve 12 boys. Our current home houses 5.
Our project takes these kids out of this slavery situation and gives them a more normal life with hope for a brighter future. This forces those who exploit to view them with human value and rights rather as invaluable commodities. This project also serves Haiti as it empowers boys to work and earn a profit which they are encouraged to use to secure their future and to send to their struggling families who remain in Haiti. We focus on 12 boys at a time.
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