Ever since she was a child in France, Hélène has had a deep and innate desire to help other people. As a girl her eyes were always searching for ways in which she could make the world a better place. When the time came for her to step out on her own, she left France to study international law at the London School of Economics and pursue her desire to promote social justice. After a strong career with Amnesty International where she fought against poverty, torture, and terrorism, Hélène and her family moved to Cincinnati, OH. After an adjustment period, Hélène began to look for ways to use her passion for social justice in her new American hometown. This search is what led Hélène to Restavek Freedom, where she volunteers several days a week assisting with communications and fundraising.
Hélène was kind enough to share her passion for Restavek Freedom and social justice with us in a recent interview.
Restavek Freedom: Tell us a little bit about your journey with Restavek Freedom.
Hélène: I am very happy to volunteer here and I love the approach that Restavek Freedom has. I feel it is both very practical and also very concrete when it comes to the programs on the ground in Haiti. I also applaud the ways in which they are always keeping the broader picture in mind and implementing activities to reach the ultimate global goal to end child slavery in Haiti in our lifetime.
Restavek Freedom: How does working with Restavek Freedom compare with the other organizations you have worked for in the past?
Hélène: Other organizations focus on denouncing things, but Restavek Freedom is on the ground in Haiti, working to build things up. They have a very local approach with the Haitian people and it centers around their needs and their culture. In most of my past positions, we were working with local partners but we were always outsiders. The difference with Restavek Freedom is that they are always there alongside those they serve. They don’t leave sporadically, they stay to help bring the needed changes on many levels.
Restavek Freedom: How does having two young children influence your perspective on global human rights?
Hélène: Of course, working with human rights and learning about the plight of the restavek children cause me to be thankful for the freedom of my own upbringing. I think of how lucky my own children are, how lucky I was, and I feel angry at the basic needs of children in slavery that aren’t being met. Things like love and safety and acceptance, simple conversations I have with my kids that no one is having with these children. I read one of the children’s books published by Restavek Freedom to my daughter, who is 7, and she was so surprised that the child was being hurt by an aunt. She couldn’t process a family mistreating a child, of keeping slaves in the family. I’m impressed by the different ways Restavek has available to engage schools and children at all ages and to raise awareness.
Restavek Freedom is one of the top charities at work in Haiti both through child advocacy and child sponsorship. If you would like to join Hélène and others like her in supporting the work of Restavek Freedom, click here to learn how you can help children in need.