Wisler had been travelling in the mountain town of Mirbalias in Haiti when he came upon a group of abandoned children. The twenty or so children were living together off trash and animal excrement for food. After spentding some time trying to locate their families to no avail, he took the children into his own home. Sadly, he learned too late that some of the children had been bitten by wild dogs and were sick with rabies. Nine of the children passed away a short time after they were rescued.
These children Wisler found are just a few drops from what is a sea of "orphans" in Haiti. There are approximately 400,000 children who are orphaned in the country, and the government estimates that 80% of them have at least one living parent. The families are abandoning their children as a last resort, hoping that someone else can care for them the way that they cannot. With a childhood mortality rate of 1 in 5, mothers will do anything in a desperate attempt to save them, including leaving them at an orphanage.
Wisler tried to help a single mother with a little money for food for her child, and encouraged her to keep trying. Each month, she begged him to take her child, and eventually left the naked one-year old boy at the orphanage gate, crying for his mother. She disappeared without a trace. Emanuello is now 5 years old, and is happy and healthy.
Wisler now has 11 children, who have a clean, safe home, and are attending school. Each of these children are learning how to be a child, and what it means to be loved. But while these children seem to have a happy ending, the growing crisis for so many in Haiti has no hope of ending. By partnering with local artists, we hope to help them build a sustainable income so they can raise their children. Our friends Leah and Dana who help care for these children call the program "orphan prevention', in the hopes that providing a solution for the parents will someday bring an end to the crisis.
Other children are not as lucky to be left at an orphanage. Some children are given to relatives or even strangers to earn their keep in exchange for a few chores. Sadly, these "Restaveks" become slaves. You can read more about them in our blog, https://www.avillagershand.com/blogs/news/the-slave-children-of-haiti