Initiative & Impact
Word and Action Haiti (W&AH) is a sister organzation of Word and Action, Inc. based in Haiti. Its mission is to prevent the occurence of child sexual abuse in Haiti through elaborated and sustainable programs. One of the main objectives of W&AH is to create a therapeutic center in Haiti where children and their family could be provided with a soothing environment to be healed from trauma related to child sexual abuse.
WORD AND ACTION FOR HAITI
Interventions and Objectives
Word and Action for Haiti (WNAH)/ Parole et Action Pour Haiti (PAPH) has developed an authentic cultural-based approach, “Strengthening the Family”, in order to prevent further occurrences of child sexual abuse and trafficking in persons in Haiti. This research-based prevention program is regionally sensitive and community participatory. The agency staffs 7 local professionals of healthcare, project management and social services and uses the Likert-scale method for program evaluation and evidence-based documentation.
Three years of ethnological research helped Georges Bossous, Jr., M.S. - Executive Director of Parole et Action Pour Haiti, develop this unique program taking a regional approach to prevention. Being Haitian and speaking Creole is not enough, using region-centric words and customs provides a deeper level of communication to help change communal behaviors and norms towards sexual and domestic violence, restevèks, and street children.
“Strengthening the Family” program tackles sexual abuse at three levels: Community Participatory, Cultural, and Economic Impacts, by building communication strategies, creating prevention activities, educating and treating survivors of sexual violence (child sexual abuse and trafficking), developing curriculum for the private and public schools in Port-au-Prince and surrounding areas, and promoting legislative advocacy through the Haitian Youth Parliament.
On October 26, 2011, Executive Director, Mr. Bossous addressed (and received support) from both chambers of the Youth Parliament on child trafficking legislation; a historical occurrence since organizations are rarely allowed this privilege.
The terms “ Child Sexual Abuse and Human Trafficking” do not exist as a topic in Haitian Creole and “Sex” is taboo thus scarcely talked about within the household, schools or churches; two suppressed reasons that Haiti remains a Special Case ranking for the sixth consecutive year in the Trafficking in Persons report. PAPH identifies these gaps and confronts the eradication process of sexual violence and trafficking issues in its core.
The majority of trafficking and sexual abuse cases is found among young children without family support (physical, mental, and/or financial) and secure housing (over 550,000 individuals still live in camps per September 30, 2011 Haiti Camp Coordination Camp Management report). The lack of trafficking legislation is another major obstacle. “On the ground” prevention, incorporating the stakeholders, is the grassroots to help decrease the problem. This program aims to change the mind-set of a restevek system with an estimated 173,000 to 225,000 children.
Sexual violence against children has always existed as a serious problem in Haiti, even more since the 2010 earthquake. Accurate statistics on the prevalence of child and adolescent sexual abuse are difficult to collect because of the problems of underreporting and the lack of a unifying definition constituting such abuse. Nonetheless, the August 25, 2011 United Nations Security Counsel report on Haiti covering the past 5 months stated that 114 minors had been raped or other sexual violence acts, 68 had been recruited in gangs, 22 had been murdered and an additional 9 killed due to crossfire.
Violence against children is a multi-faceted phenomenon. A person’s ability to cope with sexual violence may differ depending on his/her culture and supportive network. Furthermore, parents’ behaviors and attitudes toward sexual abuse incidents may have significant impacts on a child’s recovery process. The focus of the group intervention program is to provide an environment where children can be healed physically, emotionally, and psychologically to reintegrate into the community and to strengthen the family whose children have been victimized.
In 2010, Parole & Action pour Haiti hosted two prevention sessions at ACRAL (Action Citoyenne pour le Relèvement et l’Avancement du Limbé) in Northern Haiti and an estimated 250 children received intervention on child sexual abuse.
In February 2011, 33 ACRAL staff was trained on child sexual abuse and trafficking. The previous year at Carrefour, Western Haiti, child sexual abuse intervention was given to 100 children of Apostolic Orphanage. With follow-up studies every 2-3 months, 6 months and 1 year, the Likert-scale outcomes have resulted in 80%-100% success rates among children and staff.
In June 2012, we have clinically evaluated 24 young men who were sexually abused for a period of 10 years at Cap Haitian. Six months later W&A held a group session for 18 of the 24 victims who were previously evaluated.
Through present collaborative relationships with the congregational schools in Port-au-Prince, the New Life 4 Haiti (a private school of 389 children), the Office of the Minister of Education, school curriculum will be advanced in the educational system. PAPH will aide policy makers through MINUSTAH’s sponsored Haitian Youth Parliament on effective and resourceful trafficking and sexual violence legislation and continue developments with the Director’s Office of MINUSTAH, its Politic Affaires and Civil Affaires Bureaus.
Word and Action for Haiti has carried projects on the ground within several local civil society organizations in Haiti, such as ACRAL, Action Citoyenne pour le Relèvement et l’Avancement du Limbé in capacity building activities throughout the region. The outcomes of those initiatives were quite positive in term of impact on the community awareness. Other partners of WNAH include New Life 4 Haiti, Sonje Ayiti, Teen Life USA, and GPSI, Global Panel Solutions Inc.
The strength of this innovative model resides on the reinforcement of the three reciprocal approaches: Community Participatory, Cultural, and Economic Impacts. Community Participatory partners with local individuals and civil society organizations. The Cultural-based provides culturally, competent prevention and educational services and the Economic Impact confronts the long-term costs and consequences for Haiti due to the negative psychological impact that sexual abuse has on educational achievement, job performance and earnings.
In summary, Parole et Action pour Haiti will coordinate with the Government of Haiti and non- governmental organizations including the Haiti Child Protection Sub-cluster to promote an accurate definition of trafficking by regionalizing the message. By working with children, families, staff, directors, and teachers of Haitian orphanages and schools, PAPH will build child protection capacity within prevention programs and educational curriculum on sexual violence, trafficking, and restavek prevention and protection, and through pending work with the Haitian Youth Parliament, PAPH will help to create trafficking in persons laws.
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