In the news and media, Haiti is one of those places that doesn’t “seem” to be recovering anytime soon. Yes, it still has a long way to go to overcome widespread poverty, food insecurity, and rebuild communities but a lot of projects are popping up in Haiti that are leading the road to recovery. Some projects are led by foreigners but many of them are run by local Haitians with the help of foreigners like the Apparent Project which helps to address Haiti’s “orphan crisis” at its root.
380,000 children are unnecessarily living in 760 orphanages in Haiti simply because their families cannot afford to feed them – United Nations Children’s Fund
Haiti doesn’t exactly have an orphan crisis in the traditional sense. It’s a misconception that all orphan children are without parents or homes. With inaccessibility to food, a 70% unemployment rate and lack of quality education, the reality is that many Haitian families simply can’t afford to care for their children, feed or clothe them. Often parents have no choice but to give up their young ones in hopes that they may have a better quality of life. This is creating a challenge for orphanages including overcrowding and poor living conditions. Haiti’s slow adoption process doesn’t ease the situation either – government red tape means only 1% of Haitian children are successfully adopted.
You might call the Apparent Project then an un-orphanage. Its goal is to keep families together. Founded right after the earthquake in 2010, the project gives moms and dads new skills, and creates jobs so that families can be providers rather than give up their children for adoption.
Jobs are the easiest, most sustainable, most straightforward, natural and dignified way to overcome this problem. Job creation empowers the poor to be the solution to the problems that confront them – Apparent Project
Turning Cereal Boxes into Hope
One of the unique things the Apparent Project does is teach Haitians how to create beautifully, handcrafted pieces of jewelry made from cereal, cracker and pizza boxes. They are bead-like bracelets and necklaces upcycled from simple material that wasteful Western societies (even me) rarely think twice about throwing away.
It’s such a worthwhile project I really wanted to support somehow. I purchased about 4 sets of bracelets for myself and a few to give as Christmas gifts. What I loved most was that each one comes with a short bio about the artisan the piece was created by, their goal and their hopes, and how the purchase of their jewelry is going to help them.
These artisans are bringing new hope to their families by earning the means to pay for their children’s food, shelter, and education. That means less orphans, less crime, less garbage, less stress, and a whole lot more beauty – Apparent Project
One of the biggest barriers to families, especially women in Haiti is being a lone caregiver with their husbands often being the only breadwinner. To help women integrate themselves into the labour force, the Apparent Project houses a free daycare centre just downstairs that way children can be looked after. Moms don’t have to worry about finding a caregiver and they can concentrate on generating a second income (sometimes their only income). Recently a group from the US came to teach new moms how to care for their kids like change diapers.
Most people think the cause of poverty stems from tragic natural disasters, a shortage of food supply or international funding but it’s really skill development, education and job creation that go much further to lift a community out of poverty and empower them to be self-sustainable.
Right now, the Apparent Project employs about 300 local Haitians creating colourful pieces of jewelry that people can buy online or direct from their shop. I was lucky enough to visit while volunteering and teaching English in Haiti.