August 2, 2004: Headlines: COS - Haiti: Orphans: Dayton Daily News: RPCV Wendy Goodman helps children for a future that may never come in Haiti Orphanage

Peace Corps Online: Directory: Haiti: Peace Corps Haiti : The Peace Corps in Haiti: August 2, 2004: Headlines: COS - Haiti: Orphans: Dayton Daily News: RPCV Wendy Goodman helps children for a future that may never come in Haiti Orphanage

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RPCV Wendy Goodman helps children for a future that may never come in Haiti Orphanage

RPCV Wendy Goodman helps children for a future that may never come in Haiti Orphanage

RPCV Wendy Goodman helps children for a future that may never come in Haiti Orphanage

'You can just pray'

Aid workers find themselves preparing children for a future that may never come, though concentrate on 'saving one child at a time'

By Mary McCarty

Dayton Daily News

[Excerpt]

LEOGANE, Haiti | In the sorority of the girls orphanage, Farha Julmis is the newest initiate.

She is 8 years old, but looks 4. Her hair contains reddish tints like a rusting Brillo pad the telltale signs of malnutrition. Her colorful new dress with the Peter Pan collar hangs on her thin shoulders like an oversized saddle.

She was plucked from one of the roughest streets in Port-au-Prince. A place where her grandmother begs for food for the four children in her care. A place where she has seen murder.

She was transplanted to the orphanage, where she will eat three meals a day and attend school wearing a crisp red-and-white-checked blouse and gray pleated skirt.

And she doesn't want to be here.

Her face is thin, her cheeks hollow. She looks down most of the time. Her face looks as if it would crack like a piece of pottery if she smiled.

She squirms uncomfortably as these strange white people from Ohio, Wilson and Val Cohoon, present her with the miracle of a new pink dress. As Val holds the dress up to her body, Farha never smiles. In fact, she looks terror-stricken.

Rose and Joel Beaucejour have seen the cycle many times, among hundreds of orphans. The children come to them afraid, bereft, unwilling to leave their families.

What happens when the children leave the orphanage? More and more, that's the question that preoccupies Wilson Cohoon and Joel and Rose Beaucejour. During a day trip to the Jacmel orphanage, they engage in a spirited discussion with Boston-born Wendy Goodman, a former Peace Corps volunteer who stayed in Jacmel to start a youth cultural center.

"All you hear about is feeding kids and keeping them well and keeping them in school," Goodman said. "Well, what happens when kids are aging out? When they leave the orphanages, they're struggling even to maintain that lifestyle."

Wilson Cohoon nods emphatically: "We've never been able to put our fingers on a vocational school program. What do we do with them if they can't find a job?"

Goodman's solution: Identify young artists and work with them to develop their talent. The Haitians' use of color is extraordinary, she said, but they're sometimes hobbled by a lack of creativity in a school system that discourages independent thinking. "We encourage them to think differently. Nothing will change if they don't learn to think differently and feel a sense of pride in what they can do."




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Story Source: Dayton Daily News

This story has been posted in the following forums: : Headlines; COS - Haiti; Orphans

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