Orphans gain vocational skills to support their livelihoods and their communities

Cooking up Skills for Haiti's Most Vulnerable

Kétia Jean Juste is 16. She lives with her father in the South Department of Haiti. A maternal orphan and the youngest member of her family, she has been struggling to attend school. The cost of education in Haiti is low compared to some countries; but still, 70 percent of Haitians live on less than $2 a day. Kétia's father is at the mercy of these harsh economic conditions. Even temporary work is scarce and economic security is rare. Food is vital. Education is important, but often secondary. Kétia does not have the income to support her school fees.

Orphan support is an important component of the USAID-funded Community HIV/AIDS Mobilization Program, known as CHAMP, which has, since 2009, delivered to nearly 8,000 orphans and vulnerable children a wide range of services such as education - school fees, life skills training through youth clubs, recreational activities, vocational training, emotional support, legal support - provision of birth certificates; referral of sick children to health facilities and follow-up home visits.

Kétia often participates in support activities organized for orphans at a community center managed with the support of Catholic Relief Services. Her letter is testimony to how this program has influenced her life and changed her community:

"My mother died three years ago, after a long and courageous battle with a chronic disease. Since then, I've lived with my father, who is a mason by profession. When he is able to find work, he takes care of me and my siblings. For the past two years, I've received services [that] have supported my school fees and apprenticeship in culinary arts.

I realize the importance of school fees payment, especially after seeing the instability of my father's work and how it affects the livelihood of our family. I am really happy to be in school, and this is only possible through the support of CHAMP.

Moreover, the apprenticeship in culinary arts has provided training on how to prepare sweets. This training will help me earn an income to support my family -- to serve and be useful in my community. The knowledge gained will help me a lot in the future. I thank USAID for supporting these activities, not only for me but also for those younger than me."