Who Is Marenn Parenn?
Haiti's rural poor -- 85% of the nation's population -- migrate from the countryside in large numbers to join the cities. As is typical of migration, people leave for a better life. They come without money, often without knowing anyone and without a place to stay.
Instead, they swell the shantytowns. They sleep in the streets. Or they build a lean-to shelter with rotten corrugated metal sheets and pieces of cardboard. All towns in Haiti are filled with shantytowns -- unhealthy, unsanitary neighborhoods.
One of the shantytowns is named Petite Place Cazeau. Its population is about 10,000 people. It is there that Marenn-Parenn Pou Haiti was created and has been slowly developing since January 1990.
The catalysts behind Marenn-Parenn are two Haitian professionals who grew up in their country, left and have returned to try to help alleviate the poverty that has become endemic. They identified Petite Place Cazeau as a neighborhood needing desperate help. The shantytown is filled with poor children. Many are orphans, many don't go to school and many don’t even have a meal a day.
These two pioneers proposed that if they could help mothers start small vending businesses, the children would benefit with food as well as the opportunity to attend two small neighborhood schools for poor children. The experience was a success. Children were registered into the two schools. Some of the students were very bright, and had greater success than some children with more economic means. Some mothers did very well in their businesses. Other children and mothers were slower, needing more than financial support. As word of this effort spread, it grew beyond the volunteer, self-funded capacity of the two pioneers. It was then that they invited a close friend living in the US and her network of colleagues and church members to help by sponsoring or becoming "marenn or parenn" (godmother or godfather) to individual children.
From that, Marenn-Parenn has blossomed into a nonprofit organization whose mission is to impact the young people and their families of Petite Place Cazeau.
Read our brochure (PDF format).
Board of Directors
More About Haiti
May 5, 2004:
Haiti 101 (short)