Category Archives: 2000
HIV-positive people on awareness campaign in South East Haiti
From 2 – 12 November 2000, in four localities of the South East of Haiti, the Association for National Solidarity (ASON) organized an awareness and motivation campaign on AIDS. This campaign, which was funded by the United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF), aimed to contribute to the reduction of the rate of infection by HIV and to break the social barriers and discrimination towards seropositive people.
This “crusade” had its first stop on 3 November 2000 at the “Emile Posy” school and on the “Cojurelle” beach of Marigot.
“How to live with AIDS; AIDS, a threat to society; What does the future hold for an HIV-positive person?” were the themes of the debate which took place during five hours between members of ASON and an audience estimated at more than 300 people.
The audience at Marigot, located at 24 kilometers from Jacmel, composed of youth and adults, took the floor many times, and asked questions on the modes of transmitting HIV.
This article was produced with the collaboration and financial support of the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) in the scope of the ASON project: “Awareness and Motivation Campaign through the Voices of People Living with HIV/AIDS,” a campaign which covered Haiti’s Departments of the South-East and the West during November and December 2000
The second meeting took place on 4 November in Cayes-Jacmel, a locality 16 kilometers North-East of Jacmel.
Seropositive people, members of ASON, brought forward numerous testimonies before an audience of more than 450 youth.
The lecturers talked about the hardships which they are confronted with, together with their family members. They related to the participants about the suffering they endure and all the heavy expenses they run into for the purchase of medicines.
“I need US$6,000 per year to purchase medicines. I sometimes receive some, thanks to the generosity of institutions like ASON for instance,” Christian Jules said.
At the Cayes-Jacmel high school, a 20-year old girl who participated in the shooting of the documentary “Beware of AIDS,” stated: “In the past, I did not take AIDS for serious. Like others, I would say it is politics. But today, forced by observing the damage caused by this scourge on humanity, I am persuaded that it is for real.”
The youth of Cayes-Jacmel asked many questions. They all hope that one day AIDS will be stopped.
On Sunday 5 November, the third meeting took place on the public square of St. Anne in Jacmel.
Carmelle Dimercie, a young woman of 20 years old, who participated in this meeting, stated that: “The testimony of Christian Jules is sad; he did impress us with a lot of emotion, because he is a youth like us.”
The fourth awareness and motivation meeting took place in La Vallee, a village 26 kilometers North-West of Jacmel. About 600 pupils participated in this event, held on 8 November.
Mr. Jerome Altidor, the city’s mayor, who participated in this manifestation, said that he was very satisfied. He took the occasion to thank ASON and especially UNICEF which funded this programme.
“It is for the first time that the youth of La Vallee has had the chance to receive this antidote. I hope it will not be the last time,” the mayor said.
“I have often heard talk about this illness, but it is for the first time in my life that I have seen people willing to give public testimony that they live with HIV/AIDS. This to me is unbelievable,” Jean Nazaire said, a pupil of the Philippe Jules High School of La Vallee.
Impressed by the testimonies of infected persons, a parent confessed to members of ASON that he is responsible for a 12-year old girl, who is HIV positive. Both her parents have already deceased due to AIDS.
A 38 year old nurse even invited the members of ASON to visit her. She lives a hidden life in the neighbourhood community of La Voute, a communal section of Jacmel, since she was informed by her doctor to be HIV positive,
“Your presence has truly comforted me. I felt isolated, but today, with your words of encouragement, I have a bit of hope to live,” the nurse said to the members of ASON.
The fifth meeting of ASON took place on 10 December, in the town hall of Jacmel, by 3:30 in the afternoon.
For three hours, the speakers of ASON testified before an audience of about 400 people, mostly youth. They urged participants to take precautions.
“Because AIDS is smart, it is an incurable disease,” Christian Jules said, one of the HIV positive people. Many people in the audience stood up to pose questions.
Gina, a 21 year pupil of St-Louis high school, asked the persons in charge of ASON to continue with this type of work in the South East. “AIDS is leaving its trail over the youth, especially those of Jacmel,” she declared.
Jocelyne, a 22 old girl stated that: “I am very happy to participate in this interesting meeting. I have learned many things that I was not aware of. I am ready to work as a volunteer in a similar programme to make the youth aware of AIDS.”
On Saturday 11 November, around 4:30 pm, invited by Club Cool and the Red Cross youth, the members of ASON answered questions of 150 youth who participated in the meeting.
On Sunday 12 November, the tour of ASON closed around 5:00 p.m. on the public square of Toussaint Louverture in Jacmel, with an audience of more than 400 people, from all age brackets.
Jean Saurel Beaujour, Executive Secretary of ASON, took the floor to ask the crowd to protect themselves against AIDS.
He gave a presentation on the general epidemiological situation of Haiti, emphasizing that: “120 deaths due to AIDS are recorded daily in Haiti, while 120 new cases of AIDS develop every day among those already infected with the virus.”
Jean-Julien Raymond, in charge of Club Cool in Jacmel, indicated that: “The impact of this awareness and motivation campaign will surely accomplish progress in Jacmel. The youth will probably postpone their first sexual experience, change partners less often, and will more systematically use condoms, thanks to the demonstration by ASON on how to use condoms.
This awareness and motivation campaign of ASON in the South-East supported a statement by Peter Piot, Executive Director of the Joined United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), who confirmed that the effects of prevention “do not rely on technological breakthroughs, but on breakthroughs in the matter of determination.”
In Southeastern Haiti, a small program makes a big difference for street children
By: Nicole Siméon, Journalist
Thousands of Haitian children are left in the streets at a very young age and can be found in the capital as well as in towns throughout the country. They are usually abandoned without anyone taking responsibility for them and very often involve themselves in undesirable activities such as thievery, drugs, and prostitution. There aren’t many street children who have parents they can count on in the towns they are from and they don’t usually have a place to stay.
In Jacmel, a city 118 kilometers Southeast of Haiti’s capital, Port‑au‑Prince, this phenomenon is being alleviated since a study was conducted by Dr. François Ponticq and Martine Bernier in 1998.
|This “Island Beat” article was produced with the financial support of PLAN International / Haiti,within the scope of the project “Child Rights and Participatory Media in Civil Society.”|
|PLAN ‘s vision is of a world in which all children realize their full potential in societies which respect people’s rights and dignities. PLAN seeks to increase food security and family disposible income, which will enable families to improve their children’s welfare. Through its program interventions, PLAN will seek to strengthen the long-term capability of all community members to manage matters that affect the well-being of their children. This includes organizational, technical, financial and managerial capacities, and the ability to influence the priorities and quality of services of local institutions and organizations. PLAN also recognizes the importance of strengthening the long-term capacities of those institutions and organizations.|
The progress that has been made in dealing with this situation is not attributed to a miracle. A social‑cultural and artistic association called Ligue des Artistes Sans Frontières (Artists League Without Borders), known as LASAF, and located in Jacmel, has been assisting poor children especially those who find themselves in the streets.
One of the persons in charge of LASAF explained to us the path and interventions the association has been taking to help the children.
“The children need a proper context for their growth and stability,” said the person in charge, Pierre Antoine Jean, who is better known by his nickname Familus.
The work of LASAF essentially covers the vocational training of the children, in the areas of physical education, civic education, sexuality, and crafts, explained Familus.
LASAF doesn’t have the financial capabilities to take care of the children throughout the year. LASAF recruits children in the summertime and places them with various families for the summer and then sends them back for the rest of the year.
LASAF officially started operating in February 1995 without any help from the authorities. According to the person in charge, the association survives thanks to the help of a few personal friends and the assistance of PLAN International. From time to time PLAN International gives logistical assistance (such as public bus transportation and shirts) and food for the children. Familus said that because of this assistance the children are able to make field trips to cultural events.
“PLAN International does not have enough financial means at the moment, and therefore is not able to regularly support LASAF,” said Jean‑Marc Dieumerci, who is the manager of PLAN International in Jacmel.
The manager of PLAN International also said that in keeping with their vision of helping children and youth to participate actively in the process of community development, PLAN encourages foster children to reach out and help children in difficulty. Actually, in the scope of a development project around local crafts and paintings supported by PLAN International, the foster children together with more than a hundred children of LASAF have received basic training by one of the pioneers of the artist industry in Jacmel.
“The objective of this collaboration is to create an environment where children can express their ideas and develop their artistic potential,” declared Dieumerci.
The children use papier‑mache, assorted materials and local products to make their crafts. Their work has started to generate revenue that is being used to acquire materials for their work. They are working hard toward two exhibitions of their crafts and paintings, which will be held in 2001. The first exhibit will be held on the first of May, the annual patrons day of Jacmel and the other exhibition will be during the annual carnival. “These activities give the children the opportunity to earn their own money from their own efforts.”
Divided into many small groups throughout the Southeast department, the association provides services to 258 children in Jacmel, 159 in the area of “Zorangers,” 721 in total for the area of Cap Rouge which includes Clemès, Trou‑D’eau, Ka Fransik, Morne Salière, and 129 in Marbial and Fonds Melon.
The organization aims to “provide a notion of discipline for the children and to prepare them to fulfill their future moral and civic duties to their communities,” says the person in charge. LASAF also offers space where children can share their knowledge and can have healthy recreation.
“This explains why we stimulate the children and youth to develop techniques that will serve them later on to earn their living,” said Dieumerci.
New children are regularly integrated into the association, which responds sometimes to requests of families, who view it as an alternative for education for their children.
Often domestics, agricultural workers or merchants (“Madame Sarah” or small peddlers in the marketplace), the majority of parents don’t have the time to take care of their children themselves. The children, once left to themselves are often exposed to juvenile delinquency, or premature sexual relations, according to Familus.
As a non‑profit, the association which helps children and youth between four to twenty‑four years old, is seriously hampered by lack of materials and funds to implement its activities.
In order to respond to its obligations to the children, the association uses a public school, Exina Gilles de Ka‑Wolf, to hold its activities. Meanwhile, office space has been made available through the generosity of a friend who have lent them a room.
To continue without resources, the association is obligated to send older children away or to find jobs for them.
According to Familus, the goal of LASAF is to open its own residential and training centre for children. In spite of its regular activities, theatre, radio and television broadcasting, field trips, sports, and conferences, organized with the children according to an admiring parent, the work that the association accomplishes just a small fraction of what they could undertake, stated the person in charge.
A fruit tree nursery will be completed by the end of the year 2000. This initiative seeks to sensitize the children by giving them an opportunity to assist in ongoing efforts to protect the environment.
“It is sufficient to train children and youth on how to get out of the socio‑economic situation they have found themselves plunged into. The rest, they will do it themselves,” concluded Familus.
Children living with HIV/AIDS exposed to discrimination
“The Haitian Government must apply a policy to guarantee care for AIDS orphans,” Jean Saurel Beaujour declared, Executive Secretary of the Association for National Solidarity (ASON).
He made this statement, in La Vallee, a village in South-East Haiti, immediately after visiting a relative of a girl of 12 years old, who is HIV-positive. Her mother and father have already died of AIDS.
“This little girl is forced to move to Port-au-Prince to live with another grand parent, because she is exposed to the prejudice and negligence of her guardian in La Vallee,” Jean-Julien Raymond said, who is in charge of the Club Cool of Jacmel.
“In Marigot, a village nearby, four children left behind by a father deceased of AIDS, are subject to the numerous prejudices of the community,” Jean-Julien Raymond confided.
“A policy to provide home care to AIDS orphans would be more efficient,” Begerl Chery suggested. He is the Activities Coordinator of ASON.
The ASON representatives suggested that the government raises the alarm and calls on all sectors responsible for information, training and education to provide support to the AIDS orphans.
At present, in Haiti, more than 150,000 orphans of AIDS struggle for their survival.
The rate of vertical transmission, this is from mother to child, averages around 30% in Haiti. Every two and a half hours, a seropositive baby is born in this country, according to a survey conducted by the “National Initiative for Research on a Vaccin against AIDS in Haiti (INAVAC/MSPP).”
In addition, at average, orphans whose parents have died of AIDS, run a higher risk to suffer insufficient growth. This is the case with 50% of the AIDS orphans in the world (“The progress of Nations 1999,” UNICEF).
“I know orphans living in Port-au-Prince who had to abandon school and return to Marigot, to be dependent on their grandparents, who more often than not, are unable to provide for their needs,” a notable of Marigot stated, when participating in a discussion conference held by ASON on 3 November, with the financial support of UNICEF.
“In general, AIDS orphans are delivered to domestic servitude or they increase the number of street children and prostitutes. Those tested HIV-negative at birth are inevitably exposed anew to HIV, through unprotected sexual relations,” people in charge of INAVAC/MSPP noted.
According to UNAIDS, presently, “the number of children with one of their parents being HIV-positive, is very much higher than the number of children who have already become orphans, a bad sign for the future.”
The voice and participation of children in the media of Haiti.
|Journalistic Standards for Reporting on Issues Involving Children The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) is developing guidelines for reporting on issues involving children, through an extensive survey of codes of conduct and standards already in force across the world. The draft guidelines and principles include:
Everywhere in Latin America and the Caribbean there are media programmes for children, presented by children who learn to conduct interviews. In this way, children are given the tools to practice communication.
It should be underlined that since community media were established in Haiti, at the beginning of the 1990s, many more children from poor social backgrounds have gotten access to radio. Traditionally, only privileged children had an opportunity to participate in a few programmes broadcast by private radio and television stations in the capital. Public radio and TV stations have up to now hardly included children in their programming.
Although there is considerable recent media work around the concept for and by children or the theme “Child,” there is still a lack of awareness in the media on child rights and of the duty to dedicate space for exercising these rights. Much space intended for children appears cosmetic, with as only purpose to achieve a more diversified programming.
“In the reality of slavery and of restaveks (child domestics), what is done in the media seems insufficient and meaningless. Some television stations dedicate so much space to children’s entertainment that they bring about a complete elimination of the rights of the child. There is no debate among children on the rights of the child, neither between children and society on political or environmental realities,” Joseph Georges denounces.
The media remain an ideal vehicle to guarantee the rights of the child, according to Raoul Denis Jr. of the broadcast Ribambelle on the private television station Telemax. Judging initiatives such as Ribambelle, Le Petit Nouvelliste and Ti Jounal mwen (6) as largely insufficient, Raoul Denis Jr. thinks that the Haitian media do really not have the vocation to stimulate children to know more about how to live with their environment or to promote civic education.
“The audiovisual media do not practice self censure to any extent. They broadcast any type of movie at any time without pre-advising the audience about the contents. Children absorb violence and may imitate it on their friends. The country must first of all find its political and economical stability and have an efficient parliament for passing adequate legislation concerning the fundamental rights to education, entertainment, food or healthcare,” the presenter of the show Ribambelle wishes.
Cartoons that do not correspond to the general vision of the station are censored in Ribambelle, conforming to continuous suggestions of school headmasters and teachers. According to them many of the images put on television are likely to influence children negatively.
The view rating of Ribambelle (about 2,000 viewers) makes one believe that it is mainly watched by the people of Port-au-Prince, Raoul Denis Jr. says. He is satisfied with Telemax’ efforts not to broadcast images harmful to children.
Richard Widmaier declares that Radio Metropole has decided to arrange time for children who, according to him, have gotten much to say and want to make their fundamental rights known to adults.
“The children who present the show demonstrate a lot of interest for the Convention on the Right of the Child and frequently ask me questions relevant to that issue. To satisfy them, I recommend them to pick an article from the convention for each show and discuss it. The children in the audience support this fully,” Widmaier says.
The Director of Radio Metropole plans to expand the concept of the programme by integrating other specific areas such as sports and theatre. He collaborates directly with UNICEF, which regularly provides the station with brochures and documents relating to the rights of the child. The private sector, who provide financial support to the programme, are satisfied because the promotion of their products is done without any difficulty, Richard Widmaier discloses.
The station Radio Lumiere of the Baptist Evangelical Mission of the South of Haiti (MEBSH) has also air time for children, called Gaieté enfantine (children’s joy), broadcast every Saturday from 9:00 am. This show aims to be educational and entertaining and not only focuses on the articles of the Convention on the Right of the Child, but also on the Bible as the most powerful weapon of Christians, according to the co-presenters Mrs. Robenson Joseph and Sylvie Merisier.
Gaieté Enfantine is the country’s oldest radio programme for children and is heard almost everywhere in Haiti by a mixed audience of adults and children. It has contributed to the training of many stars and professionals. It is divided in two parts: the first part is produced and presented by children and the second part is conducted by the two CO-presenters
The participants in the programme say that they promote elements that strengthen their faith and develop a moral attitude, based on the respect of the Word of God. This is the case for Jean-Tho Gerilus, 17 years old, born in Fonds-Parisien (about 40 kms North-East of Port-au-Prince) and director of the children choir named “Les Enfants de Dieu” (The Children of God).
Radio Timoun (Radio Child) and TeleTimoun, stations founded by the former President of Haiti, Jean-Bertrand Aristide, aim to promote, on a large scale, the participation of children in their information and news programmes. These two media are the only ones in Haiti which are exclusively dedicated to children. Children present and produce various broadcasts.
Radio Timoun started in 1996 with the street children of Lafanmi Selavi, an orphanage sponsored by Aristide. It broadcasts 14 hours per day. TeleTimoun, which was inaugurated in 1999, broadcasts according to a daily schedule with variety shows and documentaries alternating, and news programmes presented and produced by child reporters (girls and boys), among them some correspondents from the provinces.
Radio Timoun and Tele Timoun represents an important opportunity for those street children and child domestics who want to have their voices heard in society and to have access to social advancement, an ex-presenter (11 years old) at radio Timoun observes.
Despite the confirmation of several appointments with the managers at Radio Timoun and TeleTimoun, the Panos Institute has not been able to obtain precise information directly from these two stations within the framework of this documentary study.
Community radio stations also have programmes for children which, in many cases, prove to be the most popular within their programming. There are certain periods during the year, such as around Mother’s day at the end of May, when these stations carry interactive communication between children and parents.
In some areas, children are responsible for preparing the texts to be broadcast on community radios, for wishing their mothers a Happy Mother’s Day. Elsewhere, the community radio stations broadcast old songs which would be forgotten if there were no children programmes.
Pascale Pierre at radio Vwa Peyizan Sid (Farmer’s Voice of the South), a station located at Pliche near the community of Cavaillon in the South of Haiti, explains how Pwogram timoun of VPS has been adapting itself, since 1995, based on criticism and suggestions from the audience.
“Children in this region continually urge their parents to purchase spare batteries in order to listen to the programme every Sunday. The appreciation is such high that even children from the island of La Gonave often prepare stories on their situation which they send to the station. These radio programmes are really vital and enable children to know one another.”
With its slogan “Another Communication for another society,” the community station Radyo Vwa Klodi Mizo (RVCM) of Les Cayes intends to prioritize the stipulations of the Convention on the Right of the Child, within the framework of a specific show entitled Kach Kach Liben. This name has been derived from the indigenous name of a children’s game well-known in Haiti (7).
All children, whichever be their social or religious background, have access to this programme and can enjoy themselves and express their opinions in it. In this way the media help children to assume their responsibilities, participate in the social life of the country and become more self-reliant, according to Pierre Renel Moise, a presenter of Kach Kach Liben who intends to explain children the spirit and the contents of the legislation designed to protect them.
Espwa demen (Hope for tomorrow) is the title of a children’s programme on the community station Zeb Ginen (Guinea grass), located on the heights of Puilboreau in the North of Haiti. Born out of the axiom “the children of today will be the adults of tomorrow,” the broadcast attempts to eliminate all barriers to the participation of children.
Lequilson Charles of Zeb Ginen informs that Espwa demen, which is broadcast on Sundays, contains both a theoretical part, dedicated to pedagogical aspects (appropriate formats for working with children), and a practical part, during which children tell their experiences. The only problem encountered up to now is that some parents do not appreciate the fact that principles relating to the rights of the child are raised in the programme. Other parents complain that they are confronted with such economical hardship that they are not able to purchase a radio receiver.
The radio programme Timoun se Moun (Children are human beings) of the community station Radyo Lakay of Saint-Louis du Sud, focuses on the development of the child, from its conception in the womb to the various stages of its growth towards a complete man or woman. Radyo Lakay also tries to induce people to think about the kind of training that children need to effectively participate in the programme, especially regarding themes covered, Osny Agenor of Radio Lakay states.
“As with other community stations in the country, this children’s programme was established for educational purposes. Many children in Saint-Louis du Sud are not able to attend school. The topics covered in the programme are often derived from the Convention on the Rights of the Child. The impact of this radio programme on the situation of children in domesticity is a beginning of change in Saint-Louis du Sud. The restaveks in this city are, when compared to other children of the families where they are living, now in the year 2000 less discriminated than before.”
Joseph Georges of SAKS says that children’s programmes, wherever they exist, are very dependent on the availability of persons (sometimes artists) who like to work on children’s themes. The danger is that when such individuals are not around, there will be no children’s programme in the media.
History of the integration of children in the media
In the 1970s, several radio stations, among them Radio Lumiere, had children entertainment programmes where children would tell jokes, stories, say poems etc. In addition to other air time dedicated to children’s themes, Radio Nationale used to broadcast a Sunday programme with children stories. Also, Radio Haiti Inter had a programme where various games practiced by children were presented. However at that time, the concept of the rights of the child was not obvious as yet.
Monique Clesca recalls how the participation of children in the media was almost non-existent when she started working with UNICEF in 1983. “The people did not talk about that. Children were considered props, furniture and decoration. Even the concept of rights of the child was not real.”
A survey among mothers and fathers, done after the first wide-scale child immunization campaign in 1986, identified children as the main source of information on immunization for the majority of parents. Messages were directed to children and suggested that they ask for immunization which is good for their well-being. As such they were entrusted to play an active role in conveying two messages. On the one hand, children would repeat “Have me immunized.” On the other hand, they urged their parents to take them to be immunized.
Based on these statistical data, next campaigns for immunization, as well as for oral rehydration and breast-feeding, will therefore consider children as agents for conveying the mobilization message.
One or two years later, according to Monique Clesca, UNICEF started to spread the message about the concept of the rights of the child. Messages were prepared relating to the right of children to express themselves and the obligation of parents to listen to them. Later on, when the message was conveyed that children are entitled to rights, it was decided to use children’s voices. It was a child who said “Timoun se Moun” (children are human beings).
It still remains less evident in the Haitian society to consider the child as an entity in itself. While mentioning blatant cases where children are discredited, the head of MC Conseils recalls how difficult it has been to find pictures of children who are just by themselves (these were sought for a calendar on children throughout history). “The child is always with its parents, always in another universe.”
In Haiti, traditionally there are two occasions which envision to give the floor to children:
- The National Day for the Child, the second Sunday of June of each year;
- The International Day of Radio and Television for Children, celebrated every year on the second Sunday of December.
The focus of these days is to assure the withdrawal of regular presenters and organize a take-over by children who as such become the presenters, Monique Clesca says.
“Radio Superstar has been one of the media to fully integrate the suggested approach: children have produced spots and have played the role of presenter too. Radio Metropole has also played an early role by emphasizing children songs. The interesting thing is that ever since this occasion, children have remained producers and speakers in this Radio Metropole broadcast.”
According to Monique Clesca, the goal was to develop a format for the active participation of children who would hold positions of responsibility: programming their broadcast, corrections, management, selection of themes of interest, and ensuring that the use of children’s language.
Role of the government
Many parents unceasingly complain that the content of many broadcasts (music and others) are very tendentious and negative for children. They ask for State intervention to prevent the degradation of mores and values. Some television stations (an intimate medium that should not display just about anything) did and do not hesitate to broadcast, without any pre-warning, tough and violent images (aggressive spots, video clips, movies, curses or vulgar sounds), and even pornography which hurts the sense of decency and violates children’s rights.
“What does the Haitian government do, in particular the National Council on Telecommunications (CONATEL), concerning the standards described in the Convention on the Rights of the Child, which is practically positioned besides the national constitution and is very clear on respecting human rights? Is the government willing and does it have the capacity to regulate, supervise and censor?” Monique Clesca wonders.
Since the ratification of the Convention on the Rights of the Child by the Haitian parliament in 1994, UNICEF has incorporated in its programme many activities relating to the involvement of children in the media and to the provision of general information on children in Haiti. Partnerships are now being planned with several media in the capital: those that already have relevant programmes, as well as others which need to be encouraged on the issue, Bethie Casty underlines.
“Maybe children are in a better position to address the government than we are,” Joseph Georges suggests. He mentions several reflections of children who were confronted with the authoritarianism of their parents. The parents tried to justify punishments because they were annoyed by the wild and loud play of children at home.
“Why, as parents, don’t you use the time spent on whipping us, to enter into dialogue with us?”
The government has a role and responsibility for educating the nation, so that children can live as children, can be entitled to respect and can have the same rights as all other people, according to Radyo Lakay of Saint-Louis du Sud.
“Priority must be given to education. All deficiencies in the basic preparation of children have consequences in the future, and may create little gangsters who give in to illegal drugs and corruption, and contribute to the worsening of the unequal social relations of today. Not only adults will pay the price, but the entire country will collapse,” Osny Agenor warns.
Radyo Zeb Ginen speaks also about the need to launch an appropriate family education programme for parents, aimed at moderating their tendencies to violence, knowing that they risk being unmasked by their children on the radio.
“When the children are abandoned on the street without an adequate basic education, they will increase the number of migrants to the cities (the phenomenon of rural migration). This will have impact on the levels of banditry and of illiteracy,” Lequilson Charles of Zeb Ginen emphasizes.
With regard to enabling a real change in the present state of the country, several steps are needed in the field of education and awareness, with objectives to stop the cycle of increase in street children, children in domesticity and of school drop-out.
|Fundamental elements of the Convention on the Rights of the Child Adopted on 20 November 1989 by the General Assembly of the United Nations, the Convention on the Rights of the Child entered into force on 2 September 1990. Although this Convention is still young, it is the most widely and most rapidly adopted human rights convention in history and on its way to become the first universal law of humankind. Haiti signed the Convention on 26 January 1990 and ratified it on 23 December 1994.
The Convention on the Rights of the Child is built on the basic principles that (1) decisions by authorities should be in the best interest of the child, (2) in defining what is in the best interest of the child, the child’s opinion is important, (3) every child has a right to development, not only to survival, and (4) all rights should be applied to all children without discrimination.
The Convention stipulates that Member States commit themselves to disseminate a variety of information relating to the rights of the child and to sensitize the public about these rights.
Concerning the participation of children in the media, the Convention details, in its articles 12 and 13:
The right of the child to express its opinion freely about any matter of its interest and to seek, receive and disseminate information and ideas of all kinds;
Partnerships with institutions and organizations
Joseph Georges of SAKS suggests to come up with a strategy that encourages NGOs and international institutions working in the field of education, to develop productions which they can provide to the media. Within the Haitian reality one needs to make use of the media, which are very relevant communication tools for the dissemination of educational, awareness and motivative messages for children and adults.
Many media have already established partnerships with organizations working on children’s issues. But these issues are not treated in-depth and the participation of children is very limited, Save the Children USA states.
Plan Haiti, which has just started the implementation of a radio programme for children and managed by children, believes that such initiatives are likely to help to enforce the rights of children. The government must integrate children in the community development process, according to this organization.
|Child Journalists of Trou-du-Nord and Fort-Liberte, Northeast Department In March 2000, Plan Haiti, Radio Nederland Training Centre, a radio training organization based in Costa Rica and the Panos Institute launched a media project which aims to give voice to children, their opinions and their rights by promoting their effective participation in the media. The project focuses on the dissemination of information produced by the child reporters.
Two groups of 15 children from Fort-Liberte and Trou-du-Nord, two towns of the Northeast of Haiti, are involved in this project.
“It is about a collective approach to raise awareness on the importance of the participation of children in the media. The monthly production (by the children) of two radio magazines helps children to develop their potential, to be self-reliant, to participate in national debates, to discover their environment, to be critical, to get involved in the democratization process and become responsible men and women,” Stephanie Conrad of Plan Haiti indicates. PLAN hopes to expand the scope of this initiative and reach children in other areas that it covers.
The initiative is a component of a wider programme of Plan on children and the media, in which children from El Salvador, Haiti, Honduras and Nicaragua participate.
A web site (www.panosinst.org/radio) provides a forum for the international exchange of ideas, experiences, comments, media productions and other information among child reporters and other interested groups. The site is also a tool for a wide dissemination of the media products of the child reporters, in Creole, English, French and Spanish.
Roody Thelemaque speaks out on the need to develop well-balanced programmes. Within the socio-economic reality of the country, not all categories of children have access to the various programmes meant for them. Many cannot purchase a radio receiver, nor a television set, a newspaper or a computer, she underlines.
Newly prevailing democratic norms in Haiti recommend a change in relations among individuals and consider the child as a complete human being, having rights, a personality and being worth of respect and dignity as a human being. Nevertheless, as yet, the expression of children is not part of news and information programmes in Haiti.
“Early or late, the new discourse and the wind of social change will find its way to the media! The children of today are the adults of tomorrow,” Bethie Casty of UNICEF-Haiti says.
The specialists interviewed within the scope of this study, plead for a communication policy that starts valuing children and develops partnerships for providing more media space for children.
The right to communication, specialized media, strategic choices by media concerning their programming, types of speech and specific guidance, what democratic vision and for which society: many of these themes, which relate to the expression and involvement of children in the media in Haiti, remain unsettled.
Pascale Pierre of Radyo Vwa Peyizan Sid suggests that a society founded on respecting human rights (including the human rights of children) presupposes another democratic vision, to be instilled in children (which represent the future) from their earliest age, a change to a more open educational curriculum, and involving the responsibilities of parents.
As with the issue of birth certificates, which should be delivered to every child, a fundamental step would be the media making an effort to seek the opinions of children every time the society is confronted with difficulties. If media are as yet not ready to integrate this approach, they should at least carry out motivational campaigns which denounce the reprehensible behaviour of some parents and force the government to shoulder its duties, several specialists state.
“May their involvement increase! The Ministry for National Education must adapt its pedagogics and deal with the conflict “right to expression/interdiction of expression. Some intelligent children only seem rebellious because they are not allowed to express themselves,” Monique Clesca indicates.
The media managers of Haiti are open to new ideas, on the condition that they get at least a minimum of funding, according to the Director of MC Conseils. In a recent consultancy for UNICEF (during the beginning of the year 2000), she recommends media managers to investigate the listening rates of children.
The question is whether adults will break the bonds, will set the children free, will give them confidence and opportunities to exercise their right to communication, in leisure and as an educational tool, including education of adults by children.
For Joseph Georges of SAKS, the nature of the child – the habitual voice, the laughter and the natural singing in programmes for children – does not mean that such programmes are ill-prepared.
He recommends the use of the radio as a means to help fight the dictatorial mentality which prevails in Haiti. He invites groups to adopt strategies that, first of all, would entrust children with communication materials, to do interviews for instance.
There is no problem for the child, based on his knowledge and previous training in communication, to conceive messages, write small texts, carry out interviews or dramatize. Children are great actors and Haitian children have enormous talents and abilities. One would be astounded by the level of their intelligence and their capacity to articulate issues, one after the other, or their convictions about their rights as children, he adds.
“Once children listen to people of their age group, who express themselves in the media, the message will flow very fast. But, be careful not to transform these programmes into intellectual broadcasts which would introduce intellectual differences among the children.”
Some institutions of reference:
Save the Children Canada
8 Imp. Baron
Ave. Jean Paul II, Turgeau
Tel/Fax: (509) 245-2101/0243
Web site: www.savethechildren.ca
United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF)
17 rue Armand Holly, Debussy
Tel: (509) 245-1404/1424
Fax: (509) 245-1877
International Labour Organization (ILO)
Rue Camille Léon No. 11 à l’étage
Tel/Fax: (509) 245-1683
Impasse Lily No. 3, Rue Stephen
Tel/Fax: (509) 256-1438 / 4229
Coalition Haïtienne pour la défense des droits de l’enfant (COHADDE)
23, 3e Avenue du Travail
Tel/Fax: (509) 245-5014
Save the Children USA
13 Rue Debussy
Tel: (509) 245-5153 / 4606
Fax: (509) 245-0036
International Federation of Journalists (IFJ)
266, rue Royale
1210 Bruxelles, Belgique
Sosyete Animasyon Kominikasyon Sosyal (SAKS)
24, Rue Dalencourt
Tel/Fax: (509) 245-6422
Institut de Bien-être social et de recherche (IBESR)
Ave. des Marguerites No. 14, Bois Verna
Tel: (509) 245-2602 / 2601 / 6485 / 2633
Village d’Enfants SOS d’Haiti
Petite Place Cazeau, Entrée Dumez
Santo 19, No. 966 B-B
Tel: (509) 246-0280 / 3279
Fax: (509) 238-1134 / 3177
- Ronald Colbert and Carril Desrosiers are free-lance journalists who reside in Haiti.
- The Panos Institute of Washington, DC and Port-au-Prince is an international organization that works to strengthen civil society in countries across the globe by helping journalists to cover sustainable development issues that are overlooked and misunderstood, in particular those whose impact transcends national boundaries.
- Yenyen is a creole expression used in Haiti to qualify some kinds of behaviour of people who whimper and complain all the time, and refers here to the artificiality of communication.
- The percentage of 47% (estimated population of children) has been derived by Panos from demographic data as presented in “Population of 18 Years and Older, Households and Estimated Densities in 1999, June 1999,” published by the Division of Analytic and Demographic Research (DARD) of the Haitian Institute of Statistics and Informatics (IHSI).
|Population by age groups, as estimated in 1999|
|65 years +||299,178|
Sources : IHSI and Panos
- This was concluded by an international conference held under the auspices of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in 1990 in Jomtien, Thailand.
- * Ribambelle = recreational slot for children, broadcast every weekday by the VHF private television station Telemax;
* Le P’tit Nouvelliste, weekly magazine for children distributed inside the principal daily newspaper of Haiti “Le Nouvelliste”
* Ti Jounal Mwen: Previous weekly edition that was distributed inside “Le Nouvelliste” in the past.
- KACHKACH LIBEN: A traditional game played by groups of children in Haiti. The game consists of choosing one among these children to go out of sight, while the rest of them keeps a small stone hidden. The one who went out of sight must come back to find who has got the small stone. If he discovers the person with the stone, the latter must take his turn.