Kids in our program are living with people they don’t really know. They don’t feel comfortable because the interactions are not good in the home. Based on our observations and from what the kids tell us, we figure out that having all the host parents together to teach them about child protection can make a big difference in the kids’ living conditions. That’s why we organize host parent meetings – in order to influence them and create a better social environment for the kids we serve.
Through the host parent meetings, we always take the opportunity to educate people on Child development, child protection and the restavek system. As I always say: “Adults can prevent children from eating, they can prevent them from saying their opinion, they can prevent them from sleeping […], but they will never be able to prevent them from growing up.” This quote focuses their attention on the fact that all of us must do something today for the kids, to help them grow up well in the communities. Otherwise, we will continue to repeat the same problems as the kids become adults.
One of the parents said: “I believe the work that you are doing will create changes in the society as far as children are concerned”. That sentence says a lot about how she sees our work because she was waiting for the end of that meeting to say that, after spending time listening to us.
This is to say while we are working directly with the kids in the restavek system, we influence the host parents in order to create a better social environment for the kids. Those parents influence each other, and figure out that they need to stand up for freedom. This is what will help us to get to the tipping point and to put an end to that issue.
– Samuel Jean Baptiste