Marie Jessy*, 16, lives in Carrefour, a poor, densely populated neighbourhood in Haiti's capital, Port-au-Prince. She resorted to sex work when she became homeless in February 2008, but has been given support and training in alternative ways to earn an income at a centre run by the Foundation for Reproductive Health and Family Education (FOSREF), a local NGO that focuses on preventing HIV in young people and sex workers.
"My mum just kept me for two months, then she gave me to another woman. Until I was 12 I lived with this woman, then I went to live with my aunt. But in February, she put me outside.
"I don't have difficulty finding a place to stay because I'll stay with a guy and the next day he'll give me some money; but I'm hoping to find someone special so I can stop this, otherwise, before I'm 18 I'll be finished already. I don't want to do this kind of work, I want to finish school.
"At this moment I have a place to stay with a boyfriend, because I don't see a way to live on my own. I don't have anyone, just this guy, and the people from the [FOSREF] centre are my family.
"I had a friend that took me here [to the FOSREF centre] and I felt this was a good place; I feel like this is a family for me because they talk to us about the weird things we observe outside, and HIV/AIDS and other bad things that could happen. They explain what could happen to us if we don't take precautions. I really feel I have a home, even though I don't sleep here.
"I always use condoms because that's the key of my life. There was one guy that forced me and didn't use a condom, that's why I did a [HIV] test the first day I came here [to the centre], but I was negative.
"Most guys outside aren't good. I want someone who can help me; I don't want someone my age. The guy I'm with now is 32. People ask if he's not my father or older brother, but that doesn't bother me because I need his help; I'm obliged to accept being with him."
*Not her real name
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