Haiti is the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, with an economy and environment battered by years of repressive politics, widespread corruption and mismanaged resources. As Haiti's infrastructure has suffered, so too have the Haitian people. Life expectancy at birth is 61 years, and nearly half the population over 15 is illiterate. Less than 60% of the population is employed, and many families live in such dire poverty that they cannot feed their children. With little to no social services available, many families must seek alternative care for their children.
On January 12, 2010, a massive earthquake plunged Haiti into further turmoil. Hundreds of thousands of people were displaced from their homes, including thousands of children, many of whom either lost their families or whose families could no longer provide for their care. The earthquake also significantly damaged key infrastructure, which two years later remains in very poor condition.
In 2003, Holt began serving children in Haiti through a partnership with the Hope for Haiti Foundation, a humanitarian organization founded by Peter and Shay Fontana. The Fontanas also built the Children's Village north of Port-au-Prince. Here, groups of ten children live in well-constructed, four-bedroom houses under the care of a housemother. Holt provided the support and expertise to develop a comprehensive child service program centered at the village, now called the Holt Fontana Village. Holt also began processing international adoptions, first placing children with U.S. families in 2006.
Before pursuing adoption, Holt's first priority is always to keep children in their birth families, whenever possible. To that end, Holt established Fanmi Ansanm, or "Family Together." Families in the program receive crisis counseling and emergency assistance, as well as basic medical, nutritional and educational support. Ultimately, these services helpe to ensure a safe, structured home environment for at-risk children.
For six years, Holt served families and children in the coastal town of Montrouis. By providing tools to help them become self-reliant, including vocational skills and family wellness trainings, our efforts created positive and lasting change in the lives of these families. In 2011, Holt developed a new strategy that centralizes Famni Ansanm through the Holt Fontana Village. All families now live within 3 to 6 miles of the village, enabling better oversight of the program. From here, Holt allies with local educators to monitor the wellbeing of children in the program. Holt also provides tuition and fees for upwards of 50 percent of the students at partnering schools.
As another strategy to strengthen our family preservation program in 2012, Holt plans to provide small-scale vocational training scholarships for parents in the family preservation program. Through this program, struggling parents will have the opportunity to learn a trade - such as sewing - that will help them support their children.
Help Support Children and Families in Haiti!
Become a Holt child sponsor today!
For $30/month, you can help provide nutritious food, warm clothing, safe shelter and loving care for a child in Haiti.
Give a Gift of Hope!
Help provide basic healthcare, life-saving food or even a needed medical procedure for a vulnerable child. Whether for Christmas or another occasion, giving from Holt's gift catalog is a wonderful way to honor a loved one.
An expanded version of this document is available as a PDF. Click here.