Updated: Aug 15, 2020
The Welcome Center (locally called the Centre D'Accueil Delmas or "CAD") provides safety and shelter to over 150 boys with the goal of social reintegration and family reunification. It was built by the Haitian government in the 1960s to address the growing population of children working and living in the streets. The Center’s objectives are to provide for the children’s safety, to reunite them with their families, and reintegrate them into society as healthy, independent individuals.
To date, 225 children have been placed at the center. The children are placed at the
Center by the Institute of Social Welfare and Research (IBESR). The general plan is to
have them there for 6–12 months; however, most children remain a lot longer. They
come from many different cities in Haiti, but most have a similar challenged social
history, including family abandonment and abuse. Many are sent out into the streets to
try to find means to make money for their families.
The Center consists of two main buildings. Building one holds the administrative
offices, classrooms, kitchen, and dining room. The second building has sixteen dorm
rooms, with 14 bunk beds each. There are also several shower areas and toilets.
Currently, only a few showers and bathrooms are operational. The Center has an
administrator, Pierrot Joseph, who oversees all aspects of the building and the boys’
care and safety. Other staff at the Center include psychologists, social workers,
teachers, and nurses/doctors. However, due to budget instability, the Center is rarely
fully staffed and at times functions at a staff deficit.
The Center not only supports the children’s physical, emotional, and phycological
needs but also their educational needs as well. The children at the Center are particularly interested in the following trades: auto mechanic, truck driving, agricultural technology, masonry, tiling, ironwork, carpentry, horticulture, landscaping, restoration, commercial painting, electrical engineering, baking, and hotel service. To support their passion, the Center partnered with a local vocational school, Lakou des Salesisiens Don Bosco. This partnership resulted in a dozen of the young adults completing a 2-year construction course.
Since 2016, the Center has rehabilitated more than 200 children, reintegrated 20
children into their families conducted nearly 125 family visits, graduated a dozen
students from the vocational trade school, and enrolled 67 families in mediation and
counseling. Despite these successes, the Center remains in a precarious position due
to the lack of resources and support. It is unable to carry out its mission of caring for
and socially rehabilitating the children.
The Haitian government has been unable to fund the Center since 2015. There is
currently no operating budget. The children have highly inadequate medical, clothing,
and nutrition resources. The Center's basic administration needs cannot be met. Many
children suffer from anemia, diarrhea, fever, influenza, and various other diseases
related to the building’s condition. These issues and the children’s predicament have
only been exacerbated by the pandemic.
The pandemic has triggered food shortages throughout Haiti, compounding what was
already a fragile financial situation at the Center. The Center's administrator, Pierrot,
has been lobbying for government assistance daily but has had minimal success, given
the high demand for limited resources. Sadly, the Center's 150 boys are now down to
one meal a day. We at Avek Ou are eager to help.