Haiti's troubled children face the future

Traumatised orphans are now under threat from traffickers

The children cling to each other, lying in rows on the street, some crying softly in their sleep. Twenty yards away lie the ruins of their orphanage under which others – their brothers, sisters and friends – still lie buried.

Fifty-six died when the roof and the walls came tumbling down at Notre Dame de Nativite, among them the youngest victims, Cedric Francois and James Alcius, both five months old. For the 78 who lived, the future is full of foreboding, the present full of fearful memories.

There are thousands of children like these across Haiti, survivors scarred by memories which will remain long after the physical wounds heal.

Welfare workers said the risk of post-traumatic stress could not be higher. "The traumatised young have to sort out what they've been through," said Carolyn Miles, chief operating officer of Save the Children. "There's the shock, then there's the 'I just want to hang on to something,' then there's the anger."

Suzanne Young, a Detroit nurse specialising in child psychiatry, added: "The psychological factor is tremendously important. It needs to be addressed with the other problems these children face."

Among these problems are accounts emerging of the young being stolen and sold, some across the border into the Dominican Republic. A Canadian priest, Pastor Noel Asmonin, said he was offered a young boy for $50 at a refugee centre, and a man was lynched after being accused of trying to abduct a girl at another refugee camp.

Unicef's Nadine Perrault says that the situation represents "a huge, huge opportunity for the gangs. There's lots of evidence of the traffickers moving very fast, using all sorts of means".

But with officials struggling with the task of repairing the country's infrastructure, resources are stretched.

With little or no aid from the authorities, local people attempt to help. At Rue Douyon, outside the wreckage of Notre Dame, youths from the neighbourhood have organised 'patrols' to watch over the children at night. During the day women from surrounding homes come out to look after them.

"We are coping the best we can. What worries me is the psychological effect this will have on them. What they have been through has been very, very hard, and this is going to lead to long-term problems," said Eveline Louis Jacques, 61, head of the orphanage for eight years.

"Most of my children are very silent, they cry a lot, they are afraid of being left alone. They do not even have a shelter over their heads. You can see why they are very uncertain about everything."

Six year old Naiku Simon was hit on by a timber block and was trapped for eight hours. Touching the swollen bruise he recalled: "It was dark and I did not know what was happening. It hurt very much. I was crying and I could hear others were crying as well. It hurts, I miss people, I miss my mummy and daddy."

Paul Eustace, 11, escaped unhurt and helped to free others. "I do not know what happened to some of my friends, I have lost them, I think they are dead. I think about them a lot all the time."

Vanessa Line, three years old, was buried for two days. She has hardly spoken since. Reginald Gibbs, five, lies on a cot, his left leg in plaster. His three-year-old brother, Bernardier, was among the dead. "He is very silent as well," said Ms Louise Jacques. "He sometimes talks about his brother, that is all."

"Orphans" is a loose term; some were taken to Notre Dame by parents who could no longer look after them. Reginald's father Daniel and mother Sonia sat by his cot, their house also destroyed.

Mrs Gibbs cried quietly. "She is thinking about our other son," said her husband. The couple, however, still want Reginald to be adopted and have met the adoptive parents, a French couple.

"What can we do? We have six other children, and I do not have a job. If things were different then we could keep him," said Mr Gibbs. As he spoke, his shoulders shrank into a hopeless shrug.

Arts and Entertainment
arts + entsWith one of the best comic roles around, it's no wonder she rarely bothers with films
News
people
News
i100
News
Davis says: 'My career has been about filling a niche - there were fewer short actors and fewer roles – but now I'm being offered all kinds of things'
PeopleWarwick Davis on Ricky Gervais, Harry Potter and his perfect role
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Voices
A Russian hunter at the Medved bear-hunting lodge in Siberia
Save the tigerWildlife charities turn to those who kill animals to help save them
Sport
Frank Lampard will pass Billy Wright and equal Bobby Charton’s caps tally of 106 caps against
sportFormer Chelsea midfielder in Etihad stopgap before New York contract
News
i100
Sport
Usain Bolt of Jamaica smiles and shakes hands with a competitor after Jamaica won their first heat in the men's 4x100m relay
sport
News
Chancellor George Osborne, along with the Prime Minister, have been 'complacently claiming the economy is now fixed', according to shadow Chancellor Ed Balls
i100... which is awkward, because he is their boss, after all
Arts and Entertainment
The first film introduced Daniel Radcliffe to our screens, pictured here as he prepares to board the train to Hogwarts for the first time.
booksHow reading Harry Potter helps children grow up to be gay-friendly
Life and Style
A small bag of the drug Ecstasy
Health
News
i100
Life and Style
Floral-print swim shorts, £26, by Topman, topman.com; sunglasses, £215, by Paul Smith, mpaulsmith.co.uk
FashionBag yourself the perfect pair
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Commercial Property Solicitor - Bristol

Highly Attractive Package: Austen Lloyd: A VERY HIGH QUALITY FIRM A high qual...

(Senior) IT Support Engineer - 1st-3rd Line Support

£40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A successful IT service provider that has bee...

Wind Farm Civil Design Engineer

£55000 - £65000 Per Annum: The Green Recruitment Company: The Green Recruitmen...

Principal Marine Mechanical Engineer

£60000 - £70000 Per Annum: The Green Recruitment Company: The Green Recruitmen...

Day In a Page

Save the Tiger: Meet the hunters tasked with protecting Russia's rare Amur tiger

Hunters protect Russia's rare Amur tiger

In an unusual move, wildlife charities have enlisted those who kill animals to help save them. Oliver Poole travels to Siberia to investigate
Transfers: How has your club fared in summer sales?

How has your club fared in summer sales?

Who have bagged the bargain buys and who have landed the giant turkeys
Warwick Davis: The British actor on Ricky Gervais, how the Harry Potter set became his office, and why he'd like to play a spy

'I'm a realist; I know how hard this business is'

Warwick Davis on Ricky Gervais, Harry Potter and his perfect role
The best swim shorts for men: Bag yourself the perfect pair and make a splash this summer

The best swim shorts for men

Bag yourself the perfect pair and make a splash this summer
Has Ukip’s Glastonbury branch really been possessed by the devil?

Has Ukip’s Glastonbury branch really been possessed by the devil?

Meet the couple blamed for bringing Lucifer into local politics
Dress the Gaza situation up all you like, but the truth hurts

Robert Fisk on Gaza conflict

Dress the situation up all you like, but the truth hurts
Save the tiger: Tiger, tiger burning less brightly as numbers plummet

Tiger, tiger burning less brightly

When William Blake wrote his famous poem there were probably more than 100,000 tigers in the wild. These days they probably number around 3,200
5 News's Andy Bell retraces his grandfather's steps on the First World War battlefields

In grandfather's footsteps

5 News's political editor Andy Bell only knows his grandfather from the compelling diary he kept during WWI. But when he returned to the killing fields where Edwin Vaughan suffered so much, his ancestor came to life
Lifestyle guru Martha Stewart reveals she has flying robot ... to take photos of her farm

Martha Stewart has flying robot

The lifestyle guru used the drone to get a bird's eye view her 153-acre farm in Bedford, New York
Former Labour minister Meg Hillier has demanded 'pootling lanes' for women cyclists

Do women cyclists need 'pootling lanes'?

Simon Usborne (who's more of a hurtler) explains why winning the space race is key to happy riding
A tale of two presidents: George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story

A tale of two presidents

George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story
Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover

The dining car makes a comeback

Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover
Gallery rage: How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?

Gallery rage

How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?
Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players

Eye on the prize

Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players
Women's rugby: Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup

Women's rugby

Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup