Happy Endings for Some of Haiti's Children

PORT AU PRINCE, Haiti - Images of the faces of Haiti's children make the greatest impression. Out of the misery of the earthquake, one of the most unforgettable belonged to 13-year-old Pierre La Rousse, reports CBS News correspondent Bill Whitaker.

"Why? Why? Why?" screamed La Rousse on Jan. 15, 2010.

His foot was badly hurt in the quake, his parents killed, his pain palpable as Katie Couric held his hand.

Today he lives with his grandmother, has skipped a grade in school. He's pain-free and happy.

"I want to be a journalist," says the camera-shy 14-year-old in Creole through a translator.

Haiti: The Road to Recovery

For every Pierre there's a TiJoe, a 7-year-old, orphaned by the quake with no family. Luckily he ended up at this oasis, the Blessed Friends shelter.

Loune Viaud found 38 children abandoned at a hospital after the quake.

Partners in Health

"Thousands of bodies everywhere and the children were there," said Viaud.

She scooped them up and opened this home.

There are 50 children at the shelter. They could take 1,000, but they just don't have the room.

Even before the earthquake Haiti was notorious as an orphan mill: babies abandoned by impoverished parents, warehoused in orphanages or snared by unscrupulous agents and bartered to foreigners for money.

Right after the quake American missionaries were caught -- their leader convicted -- for trying to take 33 children out of the country illegally.

"Our understanding is that they had lost parents during the quake," said Laura Silsby in jail.

But CBS News found all were from one earthquake-ravaged village and all had parents, who told us they gave their children away for a better life than they could ever have in Haiti. When Lounediny Jovin's mother told her that on the phone, the 11-year-old cried.

Save the Children has helped reunite 1,200 children like Lounediny, lost or abandoned in the quake with parents and family. It's helped open 270 schools.

"Children are back in school, children are reunited with their families, mothers are getting healthcare for their newborn children for the first time in their lives," said Elysia Nisan of Save the Children.

And Lounediny is smiling. She's back in her village with her mother. The Catholic Church built her a new house with a sewing machine for her work as a seamstress.

"I would never send her away again," Melanie Augustine, Lounediny's mother, says in Creole.

As the faces of mother and daughter show, happy endings are possible for Haiti's children.
  • Bill Whitaker

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