In 2010, Jenn Schenk and Amy Syres (then 23 and 24) were living full-time in northern Haiti and volunteering at an infant care center and orphanage. The center took in children who were abandoned, as well as undernourished and sick infants whose caregivers were out of options.
At the time, the Haitian government had estimated that one in ten children in Haiti were living in an orphanage and that 80% of these children had living family members. Jenn and Amy met these family members when they came to the care center with their severely malnourished infants. Due to their dire poverty, the "orphanage" was their last hope to get their child the food, medicine and care they so desperately needed.
These families did not want to give up their children— they did so out of necessity.
After taking in and rehabilitating these children, they were either adopted by families outside of Haiti, or returned to their Haitian homes. These reunifications were seldom successful, as the initial cause of the child’s decline in health— lack of resources and education of their caretaker— had not been addressed. Months later, many of these families were knocking on the center’s door once again.