Haiti: A Haven for Haitian Girls

The Problem: ©KOFAVIV

Haiti’s catastrophic January 2010 earthquake lasted only a few seconds but changed the lives of thousands of young girls forever. After losing their families, homes and everything familiar, countless orphaned girls were thrust into dangerous displacement camps.  There, they face unsanitary conditions, health dangers, little protection from violence and little supervision or care.

These girls struggle to survive. They scour the camps for necessities every day. Often, they have no other option than to exchange sex for basics, such as a meal, shelter or a sliver of soap.  Young girls engaged in survival sex are exposed to serious health risks, severe psychological trauma and life-threatening violence.

The Solution

It doesn’t take a lot of money to enable a girl to break free of survival sex, if her daily needs are met. To do this, MADRE, in collaboration with our partner organization KOFAVIV, works to meet the critical needs of girls in post-earthquake Haiti.

At the MADRE-supported KOFAVIV Women’s Center, girls can get the care they need—a warm meal, medical treatment, counseling and social support. Taking sanctuary there, girls are free from the daily stress of the camps, to talk to each other and build enduring friendships. The Center is a place of trust where girls are able to confide in KOFAVIV counselors about their struggles.

Girls learn about their health and human rights. They also learn how to reach out to other vulnerable girls in the camps, expanding the circle of support that’s enabling Haitian women and girls to rebuild their lives in the wake of disaster. 

The Results

  • Girls are given the skills, knowledge and resources to stop engaging in survival sex and to build new and safer lives.
  • Girls build their confidence through support networks and friendships.
  • Temporary shelter and immediate medical assistance are provided for girls in need.
  • Girls receive psychosocial support through ongoing group therapy and begin to heal from emotional trauma and depression.