Life at Zanmi Beni

…is action-packed!

  • The schedule varies at ZB varies with different schedules during summer and the school year and weekends and holidays
  • There is an individual plan for each child based on their age, interests and abilities

ZANMI BENI Guiding Principle #2:  We believe in an inclusive, family-based care model where each child is known and loved for who they uniquely are, and each child has the opportunity to form long-term, loving relationships with adults and their peers.

A typical day

The day begins early at ZB as the children rise between 4:30am and 5:00 am and get ready for a day filled with a wide variety of activities, and after an active day, the children are usually in bed by 8:00 pm.


Meal time is an important part of life at ZB. The children gather in the dining hall and are served three nutritious and delicious meals along with two snacks each day.

  • Breakfast is between 5:30am and 6:00am
  • Snack is at 9:00am
  • Lunch is between 12:00 – 12:30pm
  • Snack is at 3:00pm
  • Dinner is at 5:30pm


  • 25 children leave the campus each day and attend local schools
  • The children who are unable to travel by bus or for whom there is no appropriate school placement stay on campus with tutors who provide a variety of educational opportunities
  • Our tutors also provide assistance with homework and tutoring after school hours

Sports and Activities


There are many extra-curricular activities for the children based on their interests and abilities including:

  • A sports program that includes soccer, basketball, karate and track and playground time
  • A music program that includes choir, bongo, guitar and tamboo lessons and opportunities to perform for the community
  • Arts and crafts that include coloring, painting, drawing and craft projects
  • Learning activities including puzzles, card games and a large reading library
  • Weekly church services in the on-campus St. Rose of Lima Chapel and weekly catechism lessons
  • Musicians, writers and authors often visit ZB and perform or plan a special program for the children.  Some of our guests have included noted author, Edwidge Dandicat, musicians Chantale and Pierre Rigaud Cherry, and Jonathan Milner and students from the University of North Carolina School of the Arts
  • There are many visitors at Zanmi Beni and the children enjoy the opportunity to form relationships with people from all over the world.  Many of the people who generously support our Friending program, come to spend time with the child they have friended, and all of our visitors comment on how friendly and happy our children are

Medical, psychological and therapeutic services

ZB offers a full array of medical, psychological and therapeutic services that include:

  • Regular check-ups and a vaccination program, as well medical specialists as needed
  • Several of the children at ZB have required medical treatment and surgery that is not readily available in Haiti and ZB has made arrangements for treatment to take place in the United States and Canada. We are grateful to the Jackson Memorial Hospital, Bascom Palmer Eye Institute, and Shriners Hospital for Children in Montreal, organizations and local families who have made this possible
  • Some of the children at ZB have post-traumatic stress from the earthquake or their former living situation and are evaluated and treated by a child psychiatrist and psychologist
  • Physical, occupational, and speech therapies are provided to our children with disabilities

About 150 wonderful people work at ZB and the children are surrounded by friendly and smiling faces that include “caregiver parents,” nurses, teachers, therapists, cooks, drivers, and maintenance staff.

ZANMI BENI Guiding Principle #4: We practice the “accompaniment” model by providing permanent access to food, shelter, medical services, education and companionship.

Music Program

ZB has partnered with El Sistema, a free orchestral program from Venezuela, training young children from highly impoverished backgrounds to develop musical skills and a love for the classical music.

“Zanmi Beni is, in many ways, a development model. It is a loving home for children who were separated from their parents and families in the aftermath of the earthquake in Haiti. The supportive environment they are in, the emotional and medical care they receive, the education they are provided are truly unique. In addition, an incredible element of Zanmi Beni is that it has a self-sustaining fish farm and hatchery that not only sustains the home, it is selling its surplus locally. I am truly proud to be a supporter.”

– Jehane Sedky | Senior Advisor Office of the United Nations Secretary-General | Special Advisor on Community Based Medicine and Lessons from Haiti