Twelve-year-old Nadine lives as a restavek. She never knew her mother and has not seen her father in two years. In his absence, Nadine was left in the care of her stepmother.
Nadine never had a birth certificate, and she did not know the importance of it or what it represented. No one had ever told her about it. Although her stepmother has a birth certificate for her own children and sends them to school, she never really cared enough or never thought it was a right that Nadine should have.
Nadine’s stepmother did not accept that Nadine had the right to go to school. According to her, Nadine’s job was to stay home and help with chores and babysit the younger children.
When I learned about Nadine’s situation, I went to visit her and explained to her stepmother that Nadine must go to school because it is her right. She showed me she understood, but nothing changed: after a year, she still hadn’t sent Nadine to school. When I noticed this, I asked her permission to register Nadine in school. At first, she refused. But, with patience, home visits, and phone calls, she finally agreed to enroll Nadine in school. Without any documents, however – especially without a birth certificate – she could not enroll her.
When Nadine realized the importance of a birth certificate, she cried. Why don’t I have one? she asked me. I could not give her an answer. After this question I called her stepmother, and she was angry. She said she wasn’t Nadine‘s mother – and I understood it was not her fault. She simply didn’t know the children’s rights.
After a host parents meeting, Nadine’s stepmother understood that when a child has a birth certificate, it is not a gift but a right. She realized that Nadine had to have a birth certificate. When Nadine found out she would be getting a birth certificate, she cried of joy and said: I will be equal with the children of my stepmother.
Thanks to Restavek Freedom/OPREH, Nadine finally has her birth certificate at 12 years old. She is very excited.
As her Child Advocate, I want to say thanks to OPREH, because now Nadine knows that a birth certificate is one of the best things: and at last, she has one of her own. Now she can go to school like the other children.
– Frantso SAGESSE, Child Advocate
Thanks to friends like you, children like Nadine have hope for a brighter future. To learn more about building pathways to freedom for children like Nadine, visit restavekfreedom.org.