Zanmi Lakay is a non-profit organization dedicated to improving the quality of life for vulnerable at-risk youth in Haiti by providing educational and economic opportunities and resources to help them build a better life for themselves and their families.
How Zanmi Lakay Began…
During my first trip to Haiti in 1997, I lived at Lafanmi Selavi, a home created for street children in 1986 by Jean-Bertrand Aristide when he was still a parish priest. Close to 500 children found their way to Lafanmi Selavi for a variety of reasons. Some were orphans or abandoned, others had been abused, many families could not afford to take care of their kids, and many were restaveks or child slaves. I got to know them during the years I worked on my documentary project and taught Photography Workshops.
When Lafanmi Selavi closed in 2000, many children had nothing and nowhere to go. Street life was harsh, miserable, and dangerous. These kids wanted an education, a safe place to be, and to contribute to their own society. Zanmi Lakay was created because of the growing needs of street children in Haiti, and the seed was the Photography Workshops.