By Amazan Amos, Database Coordinator
A few months ago, a family in Haiti lost their child. They searched everywhere, asked everyone, but could not find him. Their anxiety was palpable when they entered the office of the Brigade for the Protection of Minors (BPM), a department of the police focusing on child protection.
They had their doubts on finding information there as the filing system was not the most accurate: files were kept on paper, were not always updated and often got misplaced. But it was worth trying. They were greeted by Joseph Guerson, Divisional Inspector and Head of BPM, who instead of wading through piles of papers, searched in a computerized database and with a click found the missing son! In no time, the family was able to reunite with their child, who had been placed temporarily in an orphanage.
This was an unexpected happy ending as data management has always been a problem for BPM. For years, the information was kept in paper records, which was time consuming and required costly resources (paper, space…). This did not allow them to work with speed and efficiency.
Working With The Police To Save Abused Children
Restavek Freedom works in close partnership with local authorities to intervene in cases of abuse against children in restavek – a form of modern-day child slavery that persists in Haiti.. They saw first hand how BPM registered cases and kept track of them by paper, and how it was considerably difficult. It could sometimes take hours or even days to find a file.
In 2016, Restavek Freedom worked together with BPM to design a database to empower BPM to better serve and protect children in Haiti. Now, Restavek Freedom is continuing to provide support and training on a daily basis to ensure BPM is utilizing the database well. For Mr Guerson, this was a much-needed tool, and it marked a major turn in BPM’s work.
“The database allows my team to become more operational, it allows me to track a case from its registration to its resolution. And it considerably improved the work with other institutions.”
BPM is now equipped to properly order files and process them in order of priority. Reports are easily written and filed, and all activities are listed in detail. This has saved the team a lot of time but most importantly it has helped create a constructive dynamic. With the database, the investigators now work much faster and efficiently, which in turn ensures more cases of abused children are investigated and solved.
This project is part of the comprehensive approach Restavek Freedom has adopted to put an end to child slavery in Haiti. If you want to learn more about the issue of restavek or Restavek Freedom’s work, visit restavekfreedom.org