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From Reunification to Rejuvenation

Updated: Nov 15, 2023

Reimagining the Young Adult Empowerment Program

For those who follow Overture’s work, you’ll recall that a little more than three years ago we undertook the feat of reunifying 252 children and youth from the ESPWA orphanage with their parents and families. The reunification was overwhelmingly successful, with 100% of those children remaining with their families today.

To assist older children with the transition and to equip them for a successful future, we developed the Young Adult Empowerment Program (YAEP) to provide an effective path for these young people toward self-reliance and independence. The YAEP has provided vocational training, social skills development and access to resources, helping young men and women successfully transition from childhood into an independent adulthood.

And thanks to their hard work and the faithful investment of our generous donors, the first eight groups of young adults we served from the orphanage have made amazing progress and are moving toward a more resilient life.

​In our latest Newsletter, we cast a vision for broadening this program to include youth who are in conflict with the law, living on the streets or separated from their families by orphanages. Our experience and successes with the YAEP and our partnership with the local child protection agencies (IBESR and BPM) and the prison administration have created an opportunity to expand our program’s reach.

Youth are often the most neglected and vulnerable in the community, at risk of being drawn into violent gangs, trafficked for sex and slavery, falling into a life of substance abuse and other behaviors that put their lives at risk, and even dying from disease or violence. Or, they’re incarcerated after being accused of a crime, but due to the broken legal systems in Haiti, they may sit in jail for years without ever seeing a judge, much less being offered a trial. We’ve found that even though most of these children do not enter the prisons as hardened criminals, because they are housed with adult prisoners and left to fend for themselves, without intervention they are likely to leave more inclined toward criminal behavior.

Aligning with our mission to equip and empower all those we serve to become independent and self-reliant, we’re choosing to take on this challenging work to give these young people the opportunity to transform the trajectory of their lives. This transformation has inspired us to change the name of the program from the Young Adult Empowerment Program to Rejuvenation.

Together with local authorities, we’re creating a program that doesn’t currently exist in Haiti, an alternative path for those young people who might feel like they have no choice but to enter gangs, live on the streets or end up in prison. The program, once launched, will consist of intervention initiatives on the streets and in prisons as well as access to education, vocational training, nutritious meals, social services support, healthcare and mentorship within the community, all aligning with the Five Pillars of our Overture Social Support Model (Empowerment, Education, Nutrition, Healthcare and Housing).

There is an urgent need to launch this program expansion as the justice system for youth in Les Cayes has agreed to allow some cases to be released from prison while they are awaiting trial and others to enter this program as an alternative to entering the prison system.

Project Rejuvenation - Angelo’s Story

An example of the young people that the Rejuvenation Program can serve is Angelo, a 17-year-old currently incarcerated at the adult prison in Les Cayes. Angelo, who comes from a single-parent family, has been involved with the law since he was about 14, with the last incident involving being drawn into gang violence during the recent public arisings. His life in prison is unimaginable for most of us in the U.S. He is one of about 50 teenagers in the prison sharing a cell with as many as 70 adult men, often going without even one meal per day and exposed to malnutrition, abuse and disease (no clean water, no hygiene supplies, etc.). Recently, one youth died due to extreme malnutrition.

Currently, we’re providing Angelo and other incarcerated youth (including women) with at least one hot meal per week from our Diri Lavi! food packaging program and hygiene and other self-care items. Additionally, we make frequent visits to both assess their well-being and advocate for them as much as possible. Finally, we’ve been providing counseling and educational resources as well as prayer and spiritual guidance to equip them for life after their incarceration. Angelo now has hope, knowing he has people in the community who care about him, and that there is a path toward freedom and independence.

Our goal is to serve as many youths like Angelo as possible through our Rejuvenation program, allowing them to avoid entering the prison system, supporting them as they leave prison or the streets behind them, and entering their communities equipped for success.

Thank you for your continued interest in and support of Overture’s work. We look forward to continuing this journey with you!!

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