Children of Haiti

Haiti was poor long before the Earth added insult to injury a year ago.

On January 12, 2010, a 7.0 magnitude earthquake struck Haiti and devastated the capital city, Port-au-Prince. Although the exact number was difficult to determine, an estimated 316,000 people were killed. Countless structures were destroyed, and not enough has been put back into place.

In its 200-year history, Haiti has suffered 32 coups. Each new government promises to take care of the homeless children. Each, it seems, leaves a pile of unfinished business.

By most economic measures, Haiti is the poorest country in the Americas. It had a nominal GDP of 7.018 billion USD in 2009, with a GDP per capita (PPP US$) of 1,255. Haiti now ranks 149th of 182 countries in the United Nations Human Development Index (2006). About 80% of the population were estimated to be living in poverty in 2003. Most Haitians live on $2 or less per day. Haiti has 50% illiteracy, and over 80% of college graduates from Haiti have emigrated, mostly to the United States. Poverty has forced at least 225,000 Haitian children to work as restavecs (unpaid household servants); the United Nations considers this to be a modern-day form of slavery.

“Independent Lens: Children of Haiti” was shot before the quake, and shows the stark contrast between the lush mountains, the blue ocean, and the historical sights with the abject poverty reflected in the 500,000 orphan children who wander the streets day and night. Known as the Sanguine in Creole (“soulless”) and forgotten by their own people, they do what they must to survive each day. This film follows three teenage boys who share a common dream of education, government assistance, and social acceptance.

Clip 1: Denick

Clip 2: Nickenson

Clip3: More from Nickenson

Airdates for Independent Lens: Children of Haiti
1/16/2011 10:30 pm WOSU TV
1/21/2011 1:00 am WOSU TV

– Scott

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