“Claudine was 12 years old when she entered into Restavek Freedom’s Child Sponsorship program,” said Jasmithe, Claudine’s child advocate. “She was living with her aunt, and the situation was bad. Before our program, there was no one to pay for school for her. Sometimes she would walk to the school, only to be sent home because the fees had yet to be paid.”
Claudine, a shy 15-year-old in a bright yellow dress, watches Jasmithe intently, focused on every word as she remembers first meeting three years ago.
“When she was still at her aunt’s home, she was beaten, and the way people talked to her was terrible,” Jasmithe continued. “The way she was living made me want to cry as her advocate. But rather than focusing on her past
situation and the bad things that happened, she turned them around to something positive and a reason to try harder in school.”
Claudine remembers that time. “My mom and dad died while I was living with my aunt. She would often minimize and humiliate me. I did not want these things to affect my future, so now I focus on school and having success.”
“Being able to go to school makes me feel like I am a person like everybody. I have importance and a dream. Before, I did not have a uniform to wear. Once I entered into the program, I was given a beautiful new uniform and a backpack. It makes me feel proud.”
Indeed, Claudine has excelled academically. She made it her goal last year to be the first in her class. Not only did she succeed and score high marks on her exams, she was voted class president and even has a best friend at school.
“I feel happy and proud because I have seen a lot of change in Claudine’s life,” said Jasmithe. “She is a child who is very affectionate. Not only is she the president of her class, she is also the one that gives the lessons to the younger students as well. Her teacher says that she is basically a second teacher in the class and they work together.”
In the past year, Claudine has moved from her aunt’s home into her godmother’s home, and finally has the nurturing environment she deserves. While her godmother now gives her time and the encouragement to study, Claudine’s sponsor, through their monthly support of Restavek Freedom’s Child Sponsorship program, makes sure that she always has her fees paid, that beautiful uniform and backpack, and the caring advocacy of Jasmithe.
“Jasmithe always comes to my school and there is nothing I couldn’t tell her. She is always there for me,” says the girl in pigtails. She smiles and looks at her advocate out of the corner of her eye. “Anything I tell her, she always listens and never talks bad to me. It makes me feel proud that I have a friend like Jasmithe.”
You can give freedom and hope to a child in Haiti trapped in (or at high risk of) slavery by becoming a Restavek Freedom Child Sponsor. For $30 a month, your child receives the care and protection of a child advocate, tuition, books and HOPE. To be a part of ending child slavery in Haiti within our lifetime, visit www.restavekfreedom.org/sponsor or use the giving card attached to this publication.