By Marie Yolaine Forestal, Child advocate
All children need a secure environment to grow, develop skills, and gain self-confidence. This involves love, attention and affection. Backed with good social representation, children learn to grow and thrive.
But in Haiti, children in restavek are deprived of all these. Typically born into poor rural families who cannot meet their basic needs, children in restavek are given to relatives or strangers in the hope of a better life. In their new homes, they become domestic slaves, performing menial tasks for no pay. They live under very harsh conditions, often suffer abuses and are conditioned to believe they are worth nothing. They are taught not to think for themselves and struggle to develop socially.
Restavek Freedom’s program aims to bring or keep those kids in school, show them that they are loved and valued, ultimately trying to restore as much a secure environment as possible for them to thrive.
Bringing attention and appreciation to restore self-confidence
Davidson was one of these kids. He is in 3rd grave and had behavioral problems. He was very aggressive with his friends at school, often annoying them and breaking their school supplies. He also disrupted the class when the teacher was working. He believes his parents don’t love him because they gave him to a host family. In his current home, he does not find love, affection or attention. He thought that nobody liked him; he refused to play during recess. This behavior had a negative impact on his learning capacity.
As his Child advocate, I always spend time with him during my weekly visit to the school. I try to create a positive environment for him in order for his behavior to change. We smile together, and I try to show him there are many people who appreciate him and love him. I encourage him to join other kids during recess. After some time, Davidson has discovered that there are indeed other people who love him and he has started to interact with his classmates in a normal way. One day, he said: “Now I have a best friend at school, when I eat with him I feel very happy. We can play together, I feel that he loves me”. Today, Davidson feels better, he is not aggressive with his classmates anymore and his learning capacity has substantially increased.
At Restavek Freedom, we believe that kids need an environment where they find love, affection and attention to bloom. If they cannot find it in their home, then we should provide them with extra support to show them they are valued – helping them to become confident and responsible grown-ups.
Join us to bring them love and attention! Visit our website restavekfreedom.org to learn more about our work and how you can help to support children in restavek.