By Heather Gentzel,
Communications and Child Sponsorship Coordinator

On a recent trip to Haiti, I took some time to sit down with each of our staff who are out in the field, and asked them to share about themselves, their jobs, and their country. This month we’re featuring the first of these staff, Samuel Jean Baptiste.  Samuel is a wonderful advocate with a real heart for the children, and a love for learning.  He quickly gains rapport with the children in our program and is passionate about ending the restavek system.  Enjoy getting to know one of our amazing advocates!

What is your role with Restavek Freedom?

I am a Child Advocate with Restavek Freedom.  I advocate for over 60 children at four different schools in Port-au-Prince.

How long have you been a Child Advocate with Restavek Freedom?

I have worked with Restavek Freedom for just over 2 years (I began in June 2014).

How did you first hear about Restavek Freedom?

I first heard about Restavek Freedom from another of our Child Advocates, Nadine. We went to the same university and she had talked about the foundation.

What languages do you speak?

I speak Creole, French and English.

What do you like most about being a Child Advocate?

I have always wanted to work with children.  By being a Child Advocate, I get to bring hope to children living in restavek, as they don’t generally have a good relationship with their host parents. I also get to help them have a better future and create a better Haiti, with well-educated kids who have healthy minds and self-esteem.

What do you like most about your country?

I like the pride we have in being the first independent black republic.

What is one thing people might not know about Haiti?

People might only hear the bad news about Haiti, but Haitian people have a lot of pride in being the first independent black nation. We also have some very nice places in Haiti to vacation—people don’t have to go to the U.S. or Canada to find nice places to vacation. Finally, people might not realize our style of communication;
Haitian people can get very passionate talking about and defending a subject, but they are not angry!

What do you wish most for Haiti?

I want Haiti to have a better social environment, where children’s rights will be respected.

What most motivates you in your job?

I love kids, and I know that kids grow up to be adults. If you want them to have a good future, you need to start now while they are young.

What is your favorite song, book or movie?

I like motivational songs, as well as books about psychology and social work.

What are your favorite things to do when you’re not working?

I love learning; I’m always wanting to learn new things. I enjoy reading books and listening to music – it fuels my motivation to learn.

How would your co-workers describe you?

During our Monday staff meetings, we often go around the circle and encourage and affirm each other.  When they get to me, my co-workers typically say that I am responsible, that I have a good sense of leadership and have respect for everybody here. I always try to understand a situation and people before judging. I’m smart and I keep track of my goals in life – when we don’t do this, you know, we end can up just going to work and coming back home without reaching our goals. I keep track of where I
am in reaching these goals. I know myself well.

What is something else we might not know about you?

I wrote my paper for the university about the restavek system, about kids who have experienced restavek.  I have a passion for writing. I’m very interested in teaching at a university – that is one of my goals.  I also enjoy public speaking.

We appreciate everything Samuel and our other wonderful staff in Haiti do on a daily basis to bring an end to the restavek system!  Next month we’ll feature another of our
hard-working staff!