Before Georgette Mulheir came along, there were an estimated 600 or 700 orphanages in Haiti, with 30 to 40 families having their kids in these institutions. But by the end of 2014, a shocking number of these orphanages had shuttered, and in 2015 only three orphanages in Haiti were still open, which would account for about 15 to 20 kids each. Georgette Mulheir started to notice that there were other problems; orphanages were operating under fake government licenses, and the kids were being sold into sex trafficking. She became a child protection consultant, and in September of 2015, was appointed by Haiti’s then-President Michel Martelly as the country’s first special advisor on children, youth and social protection.
Georgette Mulheir’s work inspired the UN to create Project Azalea, an effort to protect children. An ex-boyfriend raped Georgette when she was 15 years old, leaving her with a special awareness of the power of pain and the truth. Georgette Mulheir made it her mission to rid the world of child trafficking, starting with Haiti, where women are violated and bought and sold every day. She now has an organization called Break the Chain and Defend Haiti’s Democracy. Such issues are extremely common in the Caribbean region, but their systematic use in Haiti is more insidious than anywhere else.
“Haitian children become wards of the state in a very aggressive way,” says Georgette Mulheir. “In Haiti, we believe that children can find solutions for their problems only by going to school.” Georgette Mulheir set out to change this thinking. She found dozens of fake orphanages, mostly in Port-au-Prince, which had been established in the aftermath of the earthquake (Healthtechzone).
The orphanages had pictures and information on their websites, but the contact numbers did not work and the only contact Mulheir had was with a woman named Rose Genevieve in the village of Grand Goave, who took her into her home and tried to help. Georgette Mulheir is now a local grassroots organizer, working for children’s rights in Haiti. She discovered that instead of saving the children, some orphanages were selling their childhoods, lives, rights and freedom through slavery in forced labor, performing domestic work, sexual exploitation, torture, and abuse. All of these children, Georgette Mulheir explains, her family and friends, came to live with Georgette and The Stable Foundation. She now has approximately 160 people under her care, most of whom escaped and turned to The Stable Foundation for support.