By Jacquelin MÉDACIER, Child Advocate
In Haiti, going to school is not a given.
Children in restavek are impeded to go to school, kept in the home to perform domestic tasks. They work long hours without pay, and live in isolation. This is a common situation in Haiti where restavek is a form of modern-day child slavery. Typically born into poor rural families, children in restavek are often given to relatives or strangers in the hope of a better life. In reality, they become domestic slaves and are not well treated.
Through its Child advocacy program, Restavek Freedom brings some of these children to school. RF pays for their tuition fees and school supplies and ensures that the child meet regularly with a child advocate like myself. Going to school, learning and socializing with other kids are big steps forward for these kids through which they gain self esteem and confidence.
But there is more than going to school and studying.
There are many things one learns at school: learning to read, write and count, learning to concentrate and think through problems or questions, doing homework. It is also the place to play, get creative and make friends. In addition, through educational outings, it gives the children the occasion to discover the environment in which they live and their country.
On February 24, one of the school I work with went on a field trip to ‘Les Moulins d’Haiti’ (the Mills of Haiti) and I was fortunate to accompany them. 71 students participated, among which 15 were beneficiaries of the Restavek Freedom program. This visit to “Moulin d’Haiti” aimed at educating students about flour, an extremely consumed product in Haiti. This plant is one of the most modern in the Caribbean producing flour, ground corn, wheat bran and animal food. During this visit the children learned a lot: the history of the plant, its different productions, its different departments and the most instructive for them was to witness the wheat processing from a raw product to flour as a finished product.
The children were delighted by this visit as they discovered another part of the country and learned about flour. These outings greatly contribute to their development but above all it give them a sense of belonging, and break from being excluded by their peers and society.
I had an amazing time with them during this visit. I was pleased to see them learning and enjoying themselves at the same time. I can only stress the importance of these extracurricular activities and how grateful I am to RF to encourage them.
Would you like to help children in restavek to go on a field trip? Visit restavekfreedom.org to learn how!