In Haiti, a parent will spend an average of $130 to send one child to school for a year. In a highly impoverished society where a “good” job might mean making only a few dollars per day, that’s a lot of money. It’s also the reason why hundreds of thousands of Haitian children aren’t attending school at all.
The majority of Haitian schools are privately run, hence the tuition fees. Many children have no other option than attending one of these schools, and without any government assistance. Along with the cost of tuition, parents must also pay for textbooks and school uniforms, and make sure their child has a way to get to and from school.
Education in the Life of a Restavek Child
Education is vital to Haiti’s future, regardless of how poor or well-off a family might be. This is particularly true when you look at one piece of evidence pointing toward Haiti’s impoverishment — the restavek system.
The restavek system is the term for what happens when children of poor parents are sent to live with a less poor family or family friend, receiving food and shelter in exchange for household labor. Essentially domestic slaves, these children are often abused and not allowed to attend school. Once the child grows up and is able to leave the restavek system, they have no education with which to obtain a good job, and many end up in the exact same situation as their parents. Their own children are often forced into the restavek system as well. This cycle of poverty is extremely dangerous and limiting to Haiti’s future.
Haiti’s Bright Future
One of our primary goals at Restavek Freedom is the provision of education for all children who have been forced into this system of domestic slavery. Rather than try to free children from slavery immediately – which would likely cause the ‘host family’ (or family the child lives with) to go find another child – Restavek Freedom aims to provide these restavek children with education so that they can leave the restavek system as adults and obtain a job that allows them to provide for themselves and for their own future families.
This is a sustainable solution that looks at long-term effects, rather than just a quick solution that could help one child but be damaging to another. Restavek Freedom is looking to build a strong foundation on which to create a bright future for Haiti’s children, liberating them for success.
Restavek Freedom looks to a new day for Haiti where children who must leave their families are welcomed by host parents not as slaves, but as another child in the family; where education is readily accessible to every child in Haiti, regardless of where they live or their family’s socioeconomic status; where the restavek system is simply unheard of; and where parents have the economic opportunities needed to provide for their children.