By Jennifer G.K Francois, Child Advocate
When Stanley’s mother died in the 2010 earthquake, his father did not want to take care of him and placed him with his godmother. He was just 4 years old and his life took a harsh turn. Abused, beaten, performing tasks for long hours, he was neglected. He had no leisure, lived in an unhealthy environment, and wore dirty clothes.
In Haiti, this situation is not uncommon as 1 in 15 children are trapped in the system of restavek. They are given to relatives or strangers in the hope of a better life. But in their new homes, they become domestic slaves, performing menial tasks for no pay, and are often ill-treated.
Despite his young age and condition, Stanley dreamt that one day he could go to school. As years passed, he grew up but clinged to his dream, for he said in his heart: « Hope is what makes us live ».
In August 2016, he was interviewed and accepted in Restavek Freedom Accelerated Program which offers the opportunity to achieve 2 academic years in one year. Stanley’s life took another turn. At home life is still very hard and it is complicated to combine his domestic tasks with school. But whatever the difficulties, when he is at school, he always has a smile on his face. He has managed to never miss a class and is doing well academically.
“Today, thanks to Restavek Freedom I go to school like any other children, and I know how to write my name well. I am good in reading and mathematics. Every day, I learn something new. I respect people and I know how I should behave in society. I started to see my future in a different way, such as becoming a professor like Darena and Jennifer so that I can work with the children facing bad treatment like me. This sentence will always be in my heart, as long as I live, I have hope.”
As a supervisor, I congratulate him and encourage him to continue in this path: to take school seriously because education is a key, if not the key, that opens doors in the future.
The Child advocacy program is part of the comprehensive approach Restavek Freedom has adopted to put an end to child slavery in Haiti. If you want to know more about our work and join the movement to ensure children like Stanley have a brighter future, visit www.restavekfreedom.org