Chedeline, Josiette and Lovely are three girls of 11 and 10. They make their living into the street of Cap-Haitien in the north of Haiti at about a hundred kilometers from Ennery their home village.
These girls met at Rue A and are beggars. Insulted by certain passers-by as well as a sign of pity from others, they have to face the daily living and so far they have counted on the providence.
In spite of their young age, they struggle and survive to have the right to the sole thing that matters for them: the daily bread.
After collecting a certain sum that she beleives to be substantial, at a certain time of the year they return to their village to bring a relief to a mother who most of the time lives alone with little siblings. Thin, yellowished hair, tartred teeth, poorly dressed and bare footed, they haunt daily the streets of the town. They tell their experiences.
“Lovely, my mother and I come from Ennery, (a little village located on the south of the north region) to earn a living. My mother tries to search for jobs and finally we all three were begging. We did not have a father to support us back home”.
In fact, the father of Chedeline passed away due to an unknown sickness while Lovely’s father abondoned them after the birth of his second child, a three year boy who remains in Ennery.
Their day begins early morning. They are up by 5:00. By the time to wash their face, are already into the streets. They first stop at the public market in search of some leftovers.
During the day, we do not see our mother and we don’t even know where she is. We meet later at at the Lescot dormitory to spend the night.
Cite Lescot is a popular slum situated at the west side of the town. It is in this a old building strewn with faeces and waste called dormitory that peasants, gawpers, prostitutes, beggars and these girls spend their night into promiscuity by lying down on pieces of cardboard rented for two gourdes a night from the lanlord of the place.
This fee is collected by two strapping individuals who pretend to work for the account of the city mayor.
`Here, I can earn 5-15 gourdes a day depending of the period, sometimes 25 gourdes. After paying for food and the dormitory, I save a few pennies. In Ennery, we could not even eat, the situation was very difficult for my mother`, Chedeline said.
I’ve been in Cap-Haitien for three years, I return to my village sometimes to bring some money (to who???), but my mother goes there more often.”
“ I arrived in Cap about eight days ago”, shyly said Lovely. “ I am here for the first time. My mother said if I come, one can earn money.
“ I was ashamed during the first days when I was insulted by passers. They tell me to look for works to do or insult me with obscene words. However, Chedline assured me not to worry
“ I begin to earn some money now”, she continues smiling.
“I once have been to Port-au-prince. I was placed by my mother at the house of a lady named Aliette. I stayed home to take care of his little boy and to clean. The lady had always an excuse or another to beat me everyday. One day, she beated me until I started to bleed because I did not do the dishes. I had a headache that day and I did not feel well. I send a message to my mother to come for me and we returned to Ennery.”
Thanks to the presence of their mother, these girls are not sexually harassed and do not go along with older women who steal sometimes their earnings for the day. So far, they have been spared of drugs or “thinner”, a chemical mixage the street children use as drugs.
Josiette is the oldest among her four sibling. She’s also from Ennery and came to Cap-Haitien on her own but she said Chedline and Lovely are her cousins.
“ I cannot remember for how long I have been here’, she stated. My mom stays in Ennery to take care of the other children (one is quite young) and I occasionally send her some money. I don’t intend to return to Ennery, if people in our surroundings know I live and beg into the street, they will humiliate my mother and won’t show any respect to her.
“ Here, nobody recognizes me and I am not afraid of anything. Moreover, I earn soe money though it’s not much. I hear that one can earn up to 100 gourdes a day in Port-au-prince, but people beat the little girls and I would not like to be mistreated”, she added.
These girls are simply younger but are not the only ones found in this situation in the north metropolis. Since the organization “ Enfants du Monde” that provided them one meal a day stopped its operations, there is no other ressource and they can only rely on themselves.
These girls, victims of the precarious economic hardship of their families are typical cases of poverty in Haiti particularly in the rural areas. These children wander into the streets in order to avert their bad luck and to access to an improvement that avoids them obstinately and finally draws disregard from many.