Haitian Street Kids, Inc.
15 July 2005
Update July 2005
by Michael W. Brewer, RN/President/Founder
Haitian Street Kids, Inc. (HSKI)
The situation for the street kids of Port-au-Prince has still not improved to an acceptable level. It has in many ways, become worse. They continue to suffer chronic and merciless abuse at the hands of the black-mask Haitian National Police, and the executions of the children also continues. Fear and apprehension has been added to their already unbearably difficult lives and they are admittedly now living in a constant state of terror and increased uncertainty. Beatings followed by arbitrary arrest without charge has become commonplace and a fact-of-life for these children, as well as the possibility of being murdered at any given moment. A new element added to the nightly routine for the streets kids is to f ind and secure a "hiding place" for sleeping in order to not be seen or found while asleep. This necessity has relegated many of the younger children to take refuge in the sewers and ravines for sleeping with some sense of safety. Hiding in places too unpleasant for the police to go to and search is their only tactic to assure some minor degree of safety from them. Groups of children from 6 to 16 years old will gather and begin their nightly strategy meetings to try and think of new ideas and places they might be able to go to in order to sleep in safety. This added stress the children have been given, has also made it much easier for the exploiters who prey on them.
An example of the blatant disrespect and heartless disregard for the lives of these children happened again last Tuesday evening, 12 July, between 4 pm and 5 pm in the evening. At the center of one of the large neighborhoods named Portairs-Leogane, there is a loading station for the many tap-taps (pickup taxis) and minibus taxis that work from that area. Dozens of street children work and sleep in that area and make their living by yelling out to passengers the destinations of each tap-tap, and loading each taxi with passengers, as well as by begging and wiping cars down.
Prior to the 12th of July, the unlikely rumor began to circulate that after street kids of the area would hear the policemen talking and making their plans, they would then go and inform the Aristide supporters, popularly known as "Rat-Pa-Ca-Ca", of these plans, and that the street kids were informants against the police for this group. After hearing this rumor, several police cars containing police in black uniforms and black ski masks arrived at the tap-tap station on the evening of the 12th of July. They then rounded up all the street kids found working at this time, bound their hands with their t-shirts, beat and then executed the boys on the spot. There were 16 boys executed between the ages of 12 and 16 years. Aft er realizing what was about to happen, the large crowd of bystanders, tap-tap drivers and vendors began to yell and protest vigorously for the police to please not kill the children. They were yelling to the police that the children were innocent and that all they did or were interested in was trying to work in order to make a living and eat each day. The pleas fell to dead, disinterested ears. The bodies were reportedly thrown into the back of a police ambulance that had accompanied the police to the site of the massacre, and the bodies were taken away and disposed of. A mere suspicion or rumor can be a death warrant for a street child without rights or respect for his right to life and justice.
Five more boys, all age 12 and 13 years, were found dead lying in a massive puddle of blood on the corner of Delmas 18 this last Tuesday, 19 July 2005. The bodies are gone, but the blood still remains. The people of the area reported the black-mask police executed them after accusing them of being "Aristide supporters" and "chimers". They were children struggling to make a living, not political activists. This is obviously a trend toward genocide with the incentive of "social cleansing" that has resurfaced and must be stopped.
One night last week while searching for a 13-year-old-street kid who had disappeared and not been seen in four days, my search led me to one of the large police stations in a big neighborhood at the center of town. One of the 10 to 15 commissariats (police stations) located in the city that has prison buildings located behind the station. These buildings are intended as long-term holding units, and are separate from the regular jails located in the police station itself. This prison building, hidden behind the police station and made of cinder blocks with rusted iron bar doors, consisted of six 10’ x 10’ cells, all in a single row, looking out onto a concrete patio and surrounded by a 12’ gray concrete wall tapped with barbed wire.
It was about 10pm at night and my inquiry at the police station did not turn up any information concerning the boy I was looking for. As I was leaving, a policeman standing in front of the station, familiar with the work and mission of HSKI, stopped me and said he would like to show me something. I hesitantly agreed and he lead me around the side of the police station past a dirt parking lot in the back, then through a dark vacant lot which ended up in front of the entrance to the prison building. There I met six other plain-clothed policemen sitting outside in front of the entrance. They were all familiar with the work of HSKI and know who I was. I told them why I had originally come to the police station. They responded with, "take a look inside."
As I walked inside the entrance to the prison buildings yard, I passed the first of the iron-barred doors of the first of the six cells. I was fairly stunned a the sight of nothing but children between the ages of about 7 to 17 crammed into the cell, standing room only. There were approximately 25 to 30 boys in each cell. No toilet facilities, other than one overflowing coffee can in the corner of each cell. At that moment, I began to see little faces pushing into the bars of the cell doors with arms out waving, some crying and all yelling out my name, pleading for help. They were all street kids sho knew me and had been rounded up, beaten and jailed for having no home. The vast majority were there without charge. Many also with the benign arbitrary charge of "malfecter" or "undesirable". A charge given to them out of lack for a real crime or violation to accuse them of. Many of the boys I spoke to were crying, saying they had been there for 4 to 6 months. There with no access to hygiene products or clean water, and no food other than an unsanitary gruel made of corn meal and water given them once per day. They told me that they were kept in the cells day and night, except when they are marched out once in the morning for 15 minutes and once in the evening to rinse off with a one gallon bucket of water and allowed to use the filthy outside toilet. Other sources told me that the children in the cells were actually the lucky ones. That many of the boys are driven to the station, but are left in the police vehicle, just to be driven off again to the edge of the city where they are quickly and conveniently disposed of and never seen again. Without money, families, representation or lawyers, most of these boys are never missed and are merely warehoused and lost.
I told the boys I would do everything I could to help them, as always. They seemed to be somewhat happy and relieved by the fact that at least, someone knew they were there now. As I was leaving, the police sitting in front of the entrance asked if there was a possibility for an organization such as mine, of doing anything to help kids like this. They admitted that most of the boys had really committed no crime and were unfortunate innocents, there only for living on the streets and being alone without family. Also, that they were there only due to the lack of other more appropriate facilities and programs. The policemen told me that if a more appropriate and more desirable facility could be built for street children such as these, it would more than likely be well-received by the police, Haitian government, and public at-large. I then told them of my proposal and tentative plan.
Haitian Street Kids, Inc. has been given 10 acres of land approximately 20 minutes outside of town in a small village named Cabaret. This land was obtained by HSKI’s new Haitian director of Family Circle Boys Home by the previous government to be used as the site for a new orphanage and center for homeless children. The land is still vacant. Our plan for the new project is to utilize this land to create a center and home for the children now suffering on the streets, and for the children 12 years and under who are imprisoned without charge. The land would contain a large home-style dormitory, on-site school, clinic, recreational facilities, swimming pool, a building to house visitors and supporters of t he facility, recreational facilities, and a chapel. The land would also support a "tilapia farm" to generate additional food for the children as well as a possible source of extra income to help support their needs as previously planned. Agricultural projects would also be initiated with the help of volunteers with expertise in these areas.
An additional small facility would also be maintained in Port au Prince as a resource place for the children still on the streets. This in-town facility would also be used for intake of new children where they would be screened and their initial dossier would be completed if they are found appropriate for residence. From the Port au Prince base, the usual checks of all the zones where street kids reside would be performed as well as weekly checks of all the prison unites used to house children. A small clinic would be located at the base where street kids who have been beaten, injured or are sick, can come for help as we have always done in the past. This plan was extremely well-received by the police at the prison who heard it.
Any individual or group willing to help with making this project and center a reality, is more than welcome to contact HSKI by email at HaitianStreetKids@Rescueteam.com, or by donating on our web site at www.HaitianStreetKids.com
At the current time, Family Circle Boys Home, operated by HSKI, is the home for 33 former street kids and former restavek slave children. The home is also the base for HSKI’s street operations and advocacy work for these children. The home is now facing a critical crisis and is in imminent danger of being lost. HSKI has until the 30th of July to raise either $2000/USD for six months rent, or $4000/USD for the full years rent or it will be lost and the children now there will have no where else to go other than back to the streets. Many of these boys have been at the home for 5 to 6 years, since they were 8 to 10 years old, and the transition back to the streets, especially during times like these, would be devastating. We will be sincerely grateful to anyone willing to help in any capacity with this urgent problem.
If there are any questions, or if you would like anymore information, please contact HSKI at our email address, or via the web site. Donations can also be sent to our Texas address in the USA at:
Haitian Street Kids, Inc.
5209 Rain Forest Drive
McKinney, Texas 75070
Our email address is: Our web site address is: www.HaitianStreetKids.com
Our web site address is: www.HaitianStreetKids.com or www.Restavek.com.