JÉRÉMIE, HAITI – Eventz Pierre is a shy boy who lives in the streets of Jérémie, a town in southwestern Haiti.
“I don’t know how old I am because after I was baptized, my father took my birth certificate,” he says. “I live and sleep in the streets.”
He says he and two other kids sleep in a neighborhood called Makandal, one of the poorest areas of Jérémie.
"One of them has the same name as I, Eventz,” he says. “The other is called Tinel.”
When they are able to collect some money, they can pay to sleep in a house.
“We sleep in a house where the people allow us to sleep under the condition that we bring them some money every evening before we go to sleep,” he says.
Eventz says that his father left him when he was born. Then his mother died, so he moved in with his grandfather in the countryside. But Eventz says that his grandfather’s wife used to abuse him, so he fled to the streets of Jérémie, the capital of Haiti’s Grand’Anse department.
“His wife, who is not my grandmother, mistreated me every time my grandfather would go out into the fields,” he says. “She used to tie up my feet and my hands and beat me over nothing.”
One day, he ran away.
“I saved myself by coming to the city and have been in the streets ever since,” he says.
He begs for money in order to buy food and clothes, with no time to go to school.
“When people see me, they sometimes give me money,” he says. “And then I can buy some used clothes so I have something to wear, and I buy some food.”
Today he wears a gray T-shirt with red lettering, gray pants and cream tennis shoes. But he doesn’t always collect enough money to cover his basic needs.
“When I don’t have enough money, I hang out in front of a restaurant,” he says. “But there are days when I get nothing. Sometimes the women who sell food on the street give me a little something if there are leftovers.”
Eventz and his street friends are not alone.
Many children in Haiti live in the streets and beg for money to support themselves. Some have single parents to live with, but they can’t afford to take care of them so they spend most of their time in the streets begging in order to take care of themselves and their families. Representatives of government agencies say they don’t have the funding to care for these children, though they add that many are more interested in earning money for food or other necessities than attending school or receiving government shelter.
Duverge Jean Meranord, 46, director of the Ministry of Social Affairs’ local office in Jérémie, says there are no reliable figures on the number of street children in Haiti.
“I can’t tell you how many children are in the streets,”