Haiti: Espas Pa Mwen - A place for me

Education for young women and girls in slums of Haiti. In the centre of the YWCA Haiti in Pétion-Ville they will find a safe place and receive regular lessons.

Background and Programme Environment

Haiti has 11 million inhabitants and is considered the poorest country on the American continent. The country is regularly hit by natural disasters. The strong earthquake in 2010 claimed 230,000 lives and more than 1.5 million people lost their belongings. The population suffers from problems of inadequate education and lack of access to basic health care, violence and corruption. Girls and young women in particular are affected by the problems. For example, 78% of all girls attend primary school, but only just under 30% are enrolled in secondary school because they already have to take on leading roles in the household. A complicating factor is the fact that many girls grow up without a proper parental home. They are often affected by violence and are sexually abused. 36% of all 15- to 24-year-old women believe that under certain circumstances it is normal to be beaten. Due to the lack of access to information on contraceptives, the number of teenage pregnancies is alarmingly high, especially among girls who have been unable to attend secondary school. 30% of these girls become unintentionally pregnant, whereas only 6% of girls who have attended upper secondary school do so.

YWCA Haiti's Horyzon programme is mainly carried out in Pétion-Ville, Port-au-Prince. This location was chosen because the centre is located right on the edge of a slum, making it easily accessible on foot for the beneficiaries, but also because it is clearly visible and easy to reach from the city centre. The programme was implemented in 2018 at a further location in the slums of Port-au-Prince (in Cité-Soleil). In 2019, implementation is planned in two suburbs of Port-au-Prince (Martissant and Canaan). In a pilot project, parts of the programme will also be carried out at a local school. The offers are open to young women regardless of their religious and political affiliation and take into account their elementary needs for food, dignity, peace and security. Horyzon has been working with YWCA Haiti since 2015.

Target Groups

About 1,500 socially and economically disadvantaged girls (8 to 17 years old) and young women (18 to 30 years old) per year, many are full or half-wise, have so far attended no or poor schools and live in poverty.


The young women and girls receive regular instruction and professional care. The meetings in a safe place (Youth Center) and the exchange encourages the beneficiaries to apply what they have learned and to participate in networking events and further training. Their goal-oriented action promotes their self-confidence and allows them to mature into leaders.

Activities & Effects

Youth Center

Safe Space

In Espas Pa Mwen, girls build up health-promoting knowledge on Fridays and Saturdays. The teachers work in age groups and conduct workshops on topics such as self-esteem, violence, hygiene, health, rights and the environment. Leisure activities such as self-defence, yoga, art and dance are also offered. The 150 participants receive a warm meal after the lessons.

After School Tutoring

In this part of the programme, girls between the ages of 6 and 14 build up primary school knowledge. From Monday to Thursday they receive extra tuition from trained mentors and teachers. Since many girls suffer from malnutrition, the girls also receive a balanced, warm meal.

Summer Camp

The EPM offers 160 Haitian girls and boys the opportunity to break out of their everyday lives, apply their acquired knowledge and acquire further skills in a playful way during two weeks with the annual summer camp, which is carried out together with YMCA.

Activities and activities
  • Private tuition at school
  • Financial support for school fees and materials
  • Personal and professional support
  • Training on topics such as hygiene, violence, health and rights
  • Balanced hot meals
  • Summer camp of 6 weeks, together with YMCA Haiti

Girls between the ages of 6 and 14 have improved their school performance and are better fed, healthier and better cared for.

Leadership Academy

The Academy reaches 240 young women between the ages of 15 and 30 each year. Four times a year, a 10-week project is carried out with 60 young women, coordinated by trained psychologists. Together with teachers from the YWCA and external experts, they look after traumatised young women and conduct workshops.

  • Psychological care, trauma work
  • Workshops on topics such as environment, ethics, human rights, gender-based violence, sexual health and rights, HIV/AIDS, financial planning, self-respect
  • leadership training

Young women between the ages of 15 and 30 make healthy decisions about family planning and relationships. They prevent, have equal relationships, recognise gender-based violence (also within the family) and use the resources available to them against it.

Results (2018)

Program Area “Youth Center”

After School Tutoring
  • 183 girls received tuition 4 times a week from trained mentors and teachers. The girls received the necessary material to solve their homework.
  • Every day there was a warm meal for each program participant.
  • All 183 girls had access to professional psychological support.
  • 145 girls attended a dental hygiene workshop and received dental check-ups.
  • 126 girls were tested for HIV and syphilis, all with negative results.
Safe space
  • YWCA was a safe place for 195 girls to meet on Friday and Saturday.
  • Every Friday and Saturday workshops were held at the YWCA Center. Topics included leadership, self-esteem, financial planning, violence, sexuality, health, rights and environment. Activities such as self-defense, yoga, art and dance were also offered.
  • All participants received a meal on Fridays and Saturdays.

Program Area "Leadership Academy"

  • 273 young women have participated in workshops on leadership, self-esteem, financial planning, violence, sexuality, health, rights or the environment.
  • 273 young women learned how to write applications and CVs and how to present themselves in job interviews.
  • All participants came from the two most disadvantaged districts of Port-au-Prince (Martissant and Cité-Soleil).
  • 16 mentors and trainers (former graduates of the Leadership Academy) have either carried out the programme in another organisation or are active in YWCA after-school tutoring.

A Video about our Activities


Activities worldwide

Further information

Flag of Haiti
Facts about the program

Name: Espas Pa Mwen - A place for me
Partner organization: YWCA Haiti
Location: Pétion-Ville
Goal: Education for young women and girls in slums of Haiti
Target group: 1,500 girls (8 to 17 years old) and young women (18 to 30 years old),
Required funds 2020: CHF 160'000
Duration: 2020-2022
Responsible: Susanne Furler, susanne.furler@horyzon.ch

Facts about Haiti

Capital: Port-au-Prince
Population: 11.1 mill.
Human Development Index: 0.503 (rank 169.)
Life expectancy: 63.7 years
Median age: 24 years
Youth unemployment (15-24 years): 29.5%

Source: Human Development Report