What is a Restavek?

When I first visited Haiti I was so naive about many things.. one of them being slaves in Haiti. A Haitian friend and I were having a discussion about child slaves, and I asked, “How do you know which child is a slave?”  And he answered, “You just know.”  It wasn’t even 3 minutes later as we were driving along in the car that I saw her.. she was so tiny she looked like she would break in half. The little girl had a women’s skirt on as a “dress” type of outfit. She was barefoot, dirty and carrying two heavy water jugs in each hand. She paused on the side of the rocky road as her eyes followed the car. My Haitian friend took one glance at her and said, “See her there? She’s one.”

I felt like I couldn’t breathe. As we drove by her I felt like her eyes were screaming out for help!  She couldn’t have been more than 7. Can you imagine that? Working all day long, then getting the leftover scraps for dinner, getting beaten and sometimes raped.

There are hundreds of thousands of these child slaves or Restaveks in Haiti, an estimated 300,000-500,000 of them. Personally, I believe that number is much higher as the line is incredibly blurred between slavery and “paying your way” in a household.

Haiti is only a one hour and 36 minute flight from Miami. That means that Haiti is a country with over 300,000 child slaves but in an hour and a half you are back in a country doesn’t even realize what’s going on with our next door neighbor.

As Mother Teresa said, “I want you to be concerned about your next door neighbor. Do you know your next door neighbor?”

These children are our neighbors and they need our help.  They need your help.  This isn’t a problem that you can just ignore and it will go away.

But sadly, the problem doesn’t end there.  After the earthquake from May 2010 until December 2010, UNICEF estimates that between 25-100 children were being trafficked across the Haiti/Dominican Republic border EVERYDAY!

Sure, you and I can point fingers at the Haitian Government and Police Force and say that this is their fault, that it’s sick that THEY let this happen, but the truth is.. it doesn’t matter whose “fault” it is.  What matters is that EVERYDAY children are being trafficked from Haiti to be slaves.. sex slaves.. child slaves.. and many are trafficked for black market organ donating.  Please tell me this sickens you.

Imagine this.  If you don’t already have children, imagine for a minute you do. You’re at the mall on Christmas.. it’s incredibly busy, people everywhere, moving around. You brought your seven year old little girl with you to help pick out a present. Everything seems fine, you’re having fun shopping but then you turn around and your child is gone!  You start to panic, looking around everywhere, you can’t find her anywhere. She’s vanished. But here’s the problem, you can’t go to the police, they cannot help. They will try to give you some “advice” maybe, but besides that they just apologize and turn away.

What would you do?  Would you give up?  Move on?  I would hope not.  You would probably tell everyone you know about what happened. What you experienced. What you KNOW. You would write letters, emails, put up flyers. As a mother, father, brother, sister, friend, you would not stop until that child was found. Right?

Just because they aren’t your children does not mean they are not children or that it is not your responsibility to help them. They are Children of the King and GOD uses US to take care of them. They need someone to fight for them as if they belonged to YOU!

Leave your eyes open when you pray.  See these faces of children in slavery.  Fight for them.  Change the way you live your life and see that we are called to be their voice.

So, what can you do?

We are all called to fight for the fatherless, to be the voice for the voiceless.  There are over 300,000 voiceless slaves in Haiti.  Please be a child’s voice!

Respire Haiti Christian School has nearly 500 children 80% are or were restaveks. Supporting Respire Haiti and our school means you are helping to fight slavery and change the future for these children!  If you’d like to help us fight. Donate Here!

11 thoughts on “What is a Restavek?

  1. I was in spired by your story, and I would love to get involved but don’t now what
    I can do, what type of stuff u need as far as school supplies that kids may,need, I hope to hear from u may good bless u and keep doing the wonderful work that u do

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