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Haiti: It’s a desperate view

The kids involved in the ITV-Save the Children filming project scramble into the car. We drive through the dusty streets of Leogane, looking for a location that the kids want to film in.

We stop at Stadium Camp and are met by representatives of the camp. I’m told by Jimmy (ITV’s translator and guide – an amazing Haitian who speaks English, French and Creole, and tells me he will learn Spanish next) that we will be safe walking with them. The tent camps are filthy, loud and badly lit at night. Heaped rubbish competes with tents for space, and dirty water trickles all around. It’s not hard to see how cholera took hold so quickly here.

Stadium Camp, Leogane

Jobs are scarce. So many people are in the camps day all day, every day. Women are washing, peeling, cooking.  Faces stare out at me from the tents. I’m suddenly very aware of my intrusion into their lives. Around 7,000 babies have been delivered every month since the earthquake. I can’t imagine a worse start to life than being born here, into this desperate poverty.

We clamber up the steps to the stadium to film. From here all I can see is a sea of corrugated iron, cardboard and tarpaulin. Clothes lines are strung between tents. One of the children talks to us about prostitution. She worries about the young girls, her peers, who have started to sell their bodies for money. Another child tells us he sees children gambling and taking drugs.

With 80 – 90% of the schools here in Leogane flattened by the quake, children couldn’t go to school. With no money and nowhere to go, children are very vulnerable to exploitation. They are also bored, playing with whatever they can find – twisted metal, broken videos.

One of the innovative ways Save the Children is helping to improve children’s lives here is through our children’s clubs. A typical club will have children aged between 5 and 15 and meet three times a week. The group will talk through how safe they feel in their community – identifying threats, thinking creatively about solutions. The children then spread these messages to other children and the wider community – through theatre, song, dance and events.

The kids in the ITV project film each other talking about their chosen subjects. It’s a rare chance for them to take ownership of something from start to finish.This will probably be the last installment of this special film project between ITV and Save the Children. They’re sad that the project is coming to an end, but proud of what they have achieved. Footage filmed by the kids will be aired on 14 Jan on ITV News at 10. Please watch it. We need to make sure these children’s voices are heard.

Find out more about our work in Haiti

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