We create a stable community for each of our children to receive the care, opportunities and support they need to reach their full potential.
Who we are
Zanmi Beni was founded following the earthquake that devastated Haiti on January 12, 2010. When Paul Farmer, Loune Viaud and Nancy Dorsinville visited the hospital a few days after the earthquake, they found a group of extremely vulnerable children, many of whom were disabled, orphaned or abused, living in a ward at the General Hospital of Port au Prince.
These children had been abandoned at the hospital by their parents who, unfortunately, were unable to care for them. They were alone, hungry and scared. Their living conditions before the earthquake were far from optimal, but when it struck, the building suffered severe damage and the already overstretched hospital staff, overwhelmed by a crowd of seriously injured people, wasn't even able to provide them with basic care. It was obvious that something had to be done immediately to protect these children and that it would be necessary to provide them with a safe and permanent home as soon as possible.
Since Zanmi Lasante's mission is to provide high quality medical care to poor Haitians, we have always cared for children in our Central Plateau locations. We fully understood the challenges we would face in accepting responsibility for the long-term support of this group of vulnerable children. We took them in and developed a long term residential program where they would be safe, loved and could grow and develop to their full potential.
Loune Viaud found a beautiful property for sale just outside of Port-au-Prince. Paul Farmer having recently celebrated his fiftieth birthday, generously donated the funds given to him as a birthday present to help purchase the property. Partners In Health and Zanmi Lasante then formed a partnership with Operation Blessing, and together these three organizations acted quickly and decisively to develop a plan to convert the property into a suitable, high-quality living environment with the necessary accommodations for children with disabilities.
The existing buildings on the property have been renovated and new buildings have been designed to meet the needs of this growing community. Staff were hired and trained, daily programs and schedules were created, and through the efforts of a small group of dedicated people, the children were settled into their new home within four months.
In the year following the earthquake, other orphaned, displaced and abandoned children joined the original group, bringing the total number of children in the Zanmi Beni community to 64. Zanmi Beni, the name chosen for the community, means “Blessed Friends” in Creole. Indeed, everyone associated with the children of Zanmi Beni feels blessed to be a part of this hopeful place.