Friday, January 22, 2010

Haiti: "Child-Friendly Spaces" opened on Haiti-Dominican Republic border

On Thursday World Vision opened two children's centers at the San Jose Recovery Center and the Good Samaritan Hospital at the Haiti-Dominican Republic border town of Jimani. The centers, called "Child-Friendly Spaces," are designed to provide children with a safe and structured place to go during crises.

The organization has expressed concern that children – especially those separated from their families – are at risk for neglect, abuse or exploitation. The organization specifically noted the movement of children without families toward the border with the Dominican Republic as a particular danger.

"When disasters hit, children are always the most vulnerable," said Nicole Behnam, Child Protection Specialist at World Vision. "Their safety and security is of paramount concern, particularly for those who are separated from their families. The extreme poverty of Haiti already puts many children at risk of exploitation and abuse. Being separated from their families only increased their vulnerability."

At the centers, trained volunteers from the Dominican community will engage children in activities and games as well as provide them with food, pediatric care and child psychological support with the guidance of a child psychologist.

World Vision also is planning to establish recreational spaces, activities and support to adults caring for their children.

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