The Legacy of Lafanmi Selavi
Street Children in Haiti – part I, 1997-2000
Lafanmi Selavi (The Family is Life) was a home created for street children by Jean-Bertrand Aristide in 1986 when he was still a parish priest. Hundreds of children found their way to Lafanmi Selavi – some were orphans or abandoned, others had been abused, many families could not afford to take care of their kids, and many were restaveks or child slaves. The children that lived at Lafanmi Selavi were provided a daily bath, food, clothing, school, and other activities.
They lived through violence, disease, abuse, hunger, and misery, but were now regarded as Titid’s (Aristide’s nickname) children empowered to speak out as he has against injustice and poverty. These street children became part of the struggle for social change that gives them basic human rights. Because anti-democratic forces used Lafanmi Selavi as a symbol against Aristide, everyday life for street children was and still is affected by the way the political wind blows.