Thursday, July 10, 2008
Child slavery in Haiti
Child slavery in Haiti
How to buy a child in 10 hours!
I am pretty sure by now you have seen or heard about an investigative report ABC Nightline did about Child slavery and how to buy a child in Haiti in 10 hours. From taking a taxi to get to the New York Airport to sealing a deal in an upscale hotel in Haiti it takes him 10 hours. That’s a shame! Was everything they talk about in this documentary true? Does child slavery happen like that? As Haitian (no an expert) what do I think can be done to solve this problem?
Let me give a little back ground about myself. I was raised in a children’s village (orphanage) because my grandma whom I was leaving with could not afford to take care of me anymore. I lived at least a year in the poorest slum of Haiti: Cité Soleil and if you guys want to investigate my claim, I was raised in an oasis place for me called Fondation Coeur pour Haiti available online: www.coeurpourhaiti.org www.heartforhaiti.com www.hartvoorhaiti.nl these websites are respectively in French, English and Dutch.
I was blessed to be granted the opportunity to leave a better life that my misery bitten and aged grandma could not afford to me. When I was living there I did not go to school and I remember I had to stay in line being pushed by kids stronger than I to receive a hot meal from an organization that had a feeding program at the time. Sometimes that was my only meal for the day. Which made me a good candidate for child slavery but thank God Mr. Smoorenburg known as Papi Jean (father Jean) came took care of me in this village where I lived for about 15 years got an education learned English and French, learn to drive, to be better a person for myself and also to help others.
The reason I say all this is just to give you an idea that I am familiar with this subject and I surely can feel the pain of these kids.
Does child slavery exist in Haiti ?
Well, it depends on who you ask? Let me explain myself! Parents who are poor in Haiti which is the case of more than 70% of the population, have no choice since they can not afford to take care of their kids themselves. See, these people they do not have running water, no electricity, school has even become a luxury for them so if they have a family member who is doing a little bit better than them out of their real desire to provide a better life for their children, they ask the family member who has a better life than they do to take the child with them so that she can have a better situation. What happens next is what makes this topic so sad and my heart hurts writing about it. Let’s called the family member with a better economic situation the “host family”. What most of the time they do in return knowing the situation of the child’s parent (s), they start using this child, who is 90% of the time a girl, as a maid ( what people hear refers to as slave). Basically this child is not getting paid, some do not even go to school and they are forced to work literally from sunrise to sunset literally. They are basically the first to wake up and the last to go to bed (to sleep on the floor) while others are snoring. This is a very common practice in Haiti and I am not at all proud of it.
I just want to make sure that I say not everybody being a host family treat the child/children their have as slave. I know a lot of people who sent these kids to school and treat them just like theirs as was the case in the report of a preacher who ended up adopting the girl he was entrusted with.
Unfortunately the people treating kids that bad, are also poor and do not view this kind of treatment as slavery. I do think it is. These kids are treated like the lowest of the low, they have no friends, no body to speak to. I hope the girls featured in this investigation were given a good shelter ‘cause them talking about it could mean them being beaten and kicked out to live in the street. There are a lot of children who refuse this kind of treatment and most of them end up in the street. They become homeless and would do anything to get some money, whether stealing, kidnap and even killing somebody for some money. I am not too sure about the selling of the kids though, since a child can be given to you for the parents know you will feed him/her and pay for her schooling and education not as a slave. I think these guys in the investigation saw an American with money they were going to make some money themselves and were just going to lie to a poor mother into getting her to give her child to the investigator and in return pocket the money. For me there was not going to be a hardcore selling of kids just watching the reactions of the guys the reporter met as well as the waiters who talked to him. Anybody doing adoption in Haiti will testify to you! Do you know how long it takes to get a visa for an adopted child? How in the world was he going to get out of the country with the kid? It is definitely not that easy! Nevertheless, this is a shameful situation and something has to be dome about it!
Who is to blame?
Everybody will say the government but 300 000 kids in slavery is way too much for this poor government who is fighting just to take care of itself. There are not enough structures in Haiti for the government to be able to take care of these kids. They are left alone, forgotten, neglected! It is a very real and sad situation. No one wants to be in this position and specially the parents having to make the decision of entrusting the care of their child(ren) to other family members who they think will be a better opportunity for their kids. Do you know these kids are meanly called restavèk a Creole word meaning staying with. When you call somebody like that in Haiti it is just the same as you call an African American the “N” word. These kids are being hurt all around! How in the world can they become a good person and have a good future for them and their kids? Well, most of them end up in jail for stealing or killing since they have all this anger in their heart, some become prostitutes but believe it or not some, praise the Lord, end up being a good citizen advocating for kids in this situation. They are 10, 000 examples of them ending up bad, all you have to do is to go in the street of Haiti and interview some kids. There is however a good example: his name is Jean Robert Cadet and he has even written a book called: Restavec: From Haitian Slave Child to Middle-class American so check it out! Read the book yourself as a matter of fact I just bought it while writing this piece.
One thing I want to make clear is that Haiti does not accept slavery as a matter of fact we were the first black Republic to gain their independence against the Napoleon army. We have thought for the independence of many countries such as Venezuela and the USA (there is a monument in Georgia to prove it). I do not, in anyway, shape or form agree with this kind of practice being abused by people thought to be helper. I pray that God speaks through their heart and that they listen to his voice to be nice to these kids and treat them like theirs. I hope the government open more orphanages of children shelter to help these kids and that private institution help as well. They are a lot of orphanages in Haiti but they are not enough. I know there are lots of you who have adopted or sponsoring a child from Haiti and I do thank you. You will not regret it. Helping one child in Haiti is literally helping 3 to 4 families of 4 to 5 kids. You might be thinking how can you help? If the Lord puts it in your heart to bring your stone to the building of a better life to a child, just do your research, find a reliable organization helping kids in Haiti and I strongly suggest Fondation Coeur pour Haiti as one of them and help sponsor a child. You will be blessed and you will feel good. Let’s all join hand together to help eradicate this plague in this impoverish country, it is one thing for adults to be suffering but when you have kids suffering that much ( they are innocent and therefore only victims) there is not much more hope left.
I am a father myself now and can not imagine the pain that will tear my heart to know what a child is going through.
Be thankful to God for leaving a good life and that you are not subject to this kind of treatment at the same time pray and act for those who are powerless and help them. You can also help the country by buying some products from Haiti and I do recommend www.restavecfreedom.org and you can check my my website as well to support the haitian artists: www.treasuresofhaiti.com where you will find some good paintings at a very affordable price. A good way to encourage the artists!
Sponsor a child do you own research! It is your money use it wisely! As long as our economy is that bad (haitian economy ) there will always be people allowing their kids to leave with others whom kids sometime end up with the wrong family.
May god bless you again! I did not write this piece to look for pity but to let you aware of what is really going on. You can help and please make sure you do not do this by emotion but may it be from your heart.
"Restavec slavery is wrong. It is the worst crime imaginable, because the victims are incapable of resisting their adult predators. It is a crime againts nature as well, because the child's very rights to life--to belong, to grow, to smile, to love, to feel, to learn, and to be a child--are denied, by those whose ancestors were slaves themselves."
Jean Robert Cadet
From Haitian Slave to Child to middle-class American)Your comments are most welcomed !