By Tiffany Robbins, Haiti Program Manager
I have been in Haiti fulltime for over a year now, and my hands down favorite part of the week is bright and early Monday morning. I’m sure you’re thinking, “No one loves Mondays”. Well, I would normally agree with you, but on Monday mornings we have our team meeting.
It starts with a song and prayer; followed by Mendelson, the Child Advocacy Coordinator, sharing a positive message to encourage the team to press on regardless of their struggles and obstacles that they face each week. Then the team of Child Advocates share with one another complicated cases dealing with children in their caseload. It is, of course, overwhelming to hear the many stories of children being abused and mistreated in a foreign home and not being able to return to their parents because they cannot care for them or simply they don’t want them back. The advocates always do their best to solve the issue first by doing home visits and encouraging the host family to treat the child in their home as part of their family, but sometimes that isn’t enough and they look to the others for advice.
Sharing with the team brings energy and ideas to help children in Restavek
Listening week after week, I always observe the same thing: one of the Child Advocates starts a story about a child they work alongside and as they tell the story, they look completely hopeless, fatigued, and overwhelmed with how to move forward with helping this particular child. Just this past week, Jennifer shared three different stories where she wasn’t sure how to proceed. After telling the team about one child who does not feel safe in her area but cannot return to her biological family, she turned to the other advocates and exclaimed, “Ede’m!” Creole for, “Help me!” The whole team burst into laughter because they could relate with her exasperation. The reason this moment stood out to me was because that is exactly what the team did. They all chimed in with suggestions and ideas for how she should handle the situation. After several minutes of the team pouring out ideas and Jennifer writing them down as fast as she could, there was a sense of relief on Jennifer’s part. She had a new found energy and excitement to see how she can better this child’s life. Jennifer knows that even though she spends most of her time on her own, out on the field visiting children, she has a full team waiting for her on Monday mornings to help and encourage her. She knows she is not alone in the fight!
You too can join this fight to end child slavery in Haiti! Visit restavekfreedom.org to learn how