Karen Hordinski is a mother of two and the Outreach Coordinator at Cincinnati Hills Christian Academy Upper School (CHCA) in Cincinnati, Ohio. She’s also a longtime partner of Restavek Freedom and has hosted the Restavek exhibit at the school numerous times. We spoke with Karen about her passion to end child slavery and educate students on social justice issues.
RF: Tell a little about your journey with Restavek Freedom.
Karen Hordinski: I’ve known Ray and Joan Conn for years, we used to go to church together in College Hill. I was mesmerized by their stories of getting involved in Haiti and have been tremendously inspired by their work ever since.
RF: How are you currently involved in supporting the organization?
Karen Hordinski: As the outreach coordinator at our school, I have been involved in hosting the Restavek exhibit here probably a half-dozen times or more. I’ve also connected our students to volunteer at the Restavek office and this past January, Joan and I coordinated a service immersion trip to Haiti for the students at CHCA.
RF: Can you share a memorable experience from that trip?
Karen Hordinski: I’ll never forget visiting a home in Port Salut this past January. One of the boys was barefoot and maybe 8 years old, the youngest at least 5 years. He was introduced as “not my brother, but kind of like a brother” by my sweet teenage tour guide. When I asked if he was a neighbor or a cousin, my questions were met with laughs and simply dismissed with, “He’s like a brother,” and no other explanation. We visited for a while and exited to the porch where hurricane debris had piled up. I noticed the boy was barefoot as we walked over many sharp objects. It surprised me that the mother of the house didn’t require the boy to put on shoes. Later when Joan and I discussed the visit, I realized that the boy was not in the home as a visitor – he was likely a child slave.
RF: What would you tell someone about the restavek crisis in Haiti?
Karen Hordinski: I would tell them it is inexcusable in this day and age to have a system that propagates children in slavery. I would also tell them that Ray and Joan Conn are modern day freedom fighters leading an international movement to end this system of restavek and prevent more children from becoming slaves.
I would also invite them to be a part of the change happening in Haiti for these child slaves and that with nearly 300,000 children still in restavek, there is tremendous work to be done. The Restavek Freedom Foundation is challenging the system of restavek every day in Haiti. They are stopping this cycle through education and outreach in communities and churches as well as broadly through public platforms such as music, TV, and radio. The work of Joan and Ray and their staff is similar to the work of freedom fighters like Martin Luther King. By supporting the Restavek Freedom Foundation, we will significantly impact the lives and futures of children in Haiti.