Attorneys Nadine and Sadrack Francois founded the Organization of Young Girls in Action (OJFA in French) in 2003 in the Carrefour Feuilles area of Port-au-Prince in response to the injustice of poor children and orphans being used as restavecs (child house slaves) and prostitutes in Haiti. Passionate to get girls out of those two horrible lifestyles and into safe, protected lives that offer greater potential, they teamed up with a number of organizations that help provide food, health care, vocational training, school fees and more. Some of Nadine’s inspiration comes from her mother who was abandoned by her family in her early teens to a man who beat her and gave her six children to provide for. Not only did she provide for them, but all six went to college. This instilled in Nadine the importance of education and career training to give girls economic independence.
After the devastating earthquake of 2010, food & clothing distribution to the community as well as clean up of the rubble became the next priority. Nadine had been thinking about opening an orphanage for the vulnerable girls already, so the earthquake helped speed up the process. Nadine and Sadrack have one biological daughter, Sadradine (named for both of them), plus 35 orphan girls and one boy for whom they are currently providing shelter, schooling, and basic life skills education. They also continue their community education programs and are fighting the restavec laws in court, hoping to make it illegal to use children as house slaves in Carrefour Feuilles.
Nadine is passionate about the kids and fiercely protects them. She has fostered relationships with outside organizations to allow greater potential for growth and support for the children. We have seen that she puts the donation money to good use and always follows through with whatever she says she’ll do, such as purchasing bunk beds, a rain water collection system, and a propane stove, to further improve the quality of the children’s lives. A testament to her hard work and the example she sets, is when the girls are asked what they want to be when they grow up, most reply, “I want to be a lawyer!”
OJFA currently rents a building for $12,000 U.S. per year, which is the family home, orphanage, school, and meeting space for their programs. OJFA and its partner organizations are currently fundraising to buy land and build a sustainable structure that will comfortably and safely provide for all their needs, without the financial burden of annual rent.
Project HOPE Art is inspired everyday by the dedication of Nadine and Sadrack to OJFA. And we have also fallen in love with the girls (and one boy!) that live there. We work extensively with OJFA to provide education, nutrition, literacy, self-esteem, creativity and intentional whimsy with the kids. Some have even learned to swim at the Hotel Oloffson pool!