Zanmi Lakay is a non-profit organization dedicated to improving the quality of life for current and former street children in Haiti by providing educational and economic opportunities and resources to help these children while they are on the streets and to help build a life for them off the streets.
Our arts and education programs and projects include Outreach Services, School Sponsorship and Teens in Transition Programs, Employment Development, and Photography Workshops.
Zanmi means friend and Lakay means home in Haitian Kréyol - our inspiration as a safe place to help street children. (Zanmi rhymes with Mommy, and Lakay rhymes with la pie. It's important for us to know you can pronounce our name, and now you know 2 words in Kréyol!)
Given a chance, empowering children enables them to improve their quality of life. Through our programs, workshops, and future Community Center, our goal is to break the continuing cycle of life for street children in Haiti so they have options for a better and brighter future.
Many of our School Sponsorship recipients are children of children I knew when I first came to Haiti years ago. They would not be able to go to school if it weren't for our program. The teenagers we support are on their own and our assistance gives them a chance to finish their education or go to a trade school and have a place to live.
Zanmi Lakay has also been teaching Photography Workshops to impoverished children in Haiti for 14 years. Read more about it and see our student's photographs in the galleries on our website and blog.
All of the students in our post-earthquake workshops were between the ages of 10 and 18, from organizations we partner with in Cité Soleil and Jacmel, and would have nothing - school, daily meals, art classes, and community projects - without that involvement. Our students post-earthquake images were published on the New York Times Lens Blog in February 2010, and their post and pre-quake photographs were also shown in exhibits in Washington D.C., Los Angeles, and in San Francisco.
We fund our outreach, educational, and Photography programs through private donations and selling beautiful Haitian Folk Art purchased directly from the artists including items made by street children. Our Ti Maché sales keep artisans working so they can better support their families and we can increase awareness about the beautiful and rich Haitian culture.