Restavek Freedom’s primary goal is to combat the modern day form of child slavery in Haiti known as the restavek system. Within this system, children of impoverished families are sent to live with acquaintances or other family members who are less poor in the hopes of a better life. In reality, the children often are treated as domestic slaves. This deprives them of any sort of education or preparation for adulthood, continuing a cycle of poverty.
To accomplish our goal combatting the restavek system, we work with Haitian families in several ways.
Our child advocates work with children who are currently in the restavek system – not to immediately free them from the system, but to ensure that they receive appropriate treatment. We visit their school to ensure they’re attending, work with them to make sure they’re not being abused by the people they’re living with, and generally keep an eye on their development. We fund their education so that their host family does not have to front the cost, something that they are often very opposed to.
Currently, these efforts are based out of Port-au-Prince and have recently expanded into the southern region of Haiti to impact more children on a larger scale.
When we find that children are being severely abused in their host home, we remove them from the situation and care for them in a transitional home. The home provides them not only with a roof over their heads, but also an education and people they can talk to and feel safe with. The goal of the transitional home is to assist children in becoming well-adjusted and well-prepared adults.
Host Family Curriculum
But we’re not just working with the children. We’re also working with the host families. In an effort to receive their cooperation and stop abuse, we do not try to villainize them. Instead, we educate them. We work with community and church leaders to provide information on child care and why the restavek system is not only wrong, but harmful to everyone. As children leave the restavek system, they add to the country’s impoverished population and they continue a cycle of poverty that leaves the country worse off. The information we provide shows not only this, but also biblical standards for childcare and how it relates to Haitian law.
Regional Activity Hubs
In addition to these parent services, we also offer services to families in general to try to provide education and resources where we can through creating regional activity hubs. This way, even if a family does not have access to traditional schooling, they still have an educational opportunity located near their home that is easily accessible.
Restavek Freedom is impacting communities for the better, aiming to influence generations of Haitians through ending cycles of poverty and providing education that not only ends child slavery, but also betters Haiti’s economic standing. Can you get involved? Check out ways you can make an impact, too.