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#5032: new restavčk article (fwd)
From: Merrie Archer <MArcher@nchr.org>
Tuesday, August 29, 2000
Man strives to ease the plight of homeless children in Haiti
Nurse Michael Brewer plans to fly to the nation and establish a
By Dan Parker and Guy H. Lawrence
He's not Santa Claus, but he does plan to fly to Haiti in December
with a long-term mission to bring happiness to impoverished children on the
Michael Brewer, a civilian nurse at Naval Air Station Corpus
Christi, has formed a nonprofit organization, Haitian Street Kids Inc.,
dedicated to helping children who live on the streets in Haiti.
Brewer, director of immunizations at NAS Corpus Christi, decided to
form the group after traveling to Haiti in May to visit St. Joseph's Boys
Home, a facility that takes in homeless, abandoned and abused boys.
Brewer has been helping children around the world since the early
1980s. In Turkey, he held a toy and clothing drive at an orphanage. In
Honduras, he gave immunizations to children.
But visiting Haiti, where he saw dire poverty and an abused,
malnourished child near death lying on a street, persuaded him he had to do
something bigger than what he'd done before.
"This is the first time I've come across something that appeared to
have such an urgent need," Brewer said.
Street children live in constant peril in Haitian cities like
Port-au-Prince, said Johnny McCalla, executive director for the National
Coalition for Haitian Rights. The New York-based coalition is concerned
about human rights in Haiti, including the selling of children into
servitude, he said.
"This is at the heart of the inequality in Haiti," McCalla said.
Thousands of children are homeless in Haiti, some because their
parents passed away, and others who were sold into domestic servitude by
"They essentially turn over their children to some families that are
a little better off, in hopes the family will provide the children with
education, shelter and care and love," McCalla said. "They essentially
become their house slaves. The care and love is not in the equation."
Children often are kicked out of the places where they work and have
to live in the streets, McCalla said. Once on the streets, the children turn
to crime, including prostitution.
"Some kids as young as 7 years old are used as prostitutes," McCalla
The Haitian government could do something about the plight of the
homeless children, but there is no will to address it, he said.
"It is a non-functioning government," McCalla said. "If the people
leading the government had the willpower to do it, they could do something
about this situation. They are not doing anything about it."
'Everything a child deserves'
In the short term, these children need the kind of help that Brewer
is talking about, such as food and shelter and an opportunity for education
that could lead to a better future, McCalla said.
Brewer has spent his life savings obtaining contacts in Haiti and
establishing a World Wide Web site - www.haitianstreetkids.com - designed to
increase public awareness of the plight of Haiti's children. The Web site
also allows people to make donations to the organization.
Brewer plans to fly to Haiti in December to scout out properties
where he hopes to eventually establish a facility where up to 50 street
children can find food, shelter and more.
"As it is now, they think they don't have anywhere to go," Brewer
said. "We want to make it widely known in Haiti that they have a place where
they can go and be protected and they can regain their childhood. They'll
have an education, health care, everything a child deserves."
Brewer's organization has no money yet, so he is saving his own
money to make the trip.
Brewer said a foundation has contacted him, interested in possibly
helping Haitian Street Kids Inc. financially, depending on how the
Brewer said he will work hard to make impacts on children's lives in
"I just don't like to see helpless, innocent children being abused,"
he said. "It's something they just don't deserve. It takes someone who's
stronger - or thinks they're stronger - to stand up for them."
Staff writer Dan Parker can be reached at 886-3746 or by e-mail at
firstname.lastname@example.org. Staff writer Guy Lawrence can be reached at 886-3792 or
by e-mail at email@example.com
Associate Director for
Programs and Development
National Coalition for Haitian Rights
275 Seventh Ave, 17th Floor
New York, NY 10001
(212) 337-0005, ext. 18
(212) 741-8749 fax