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Advocates for the Restaveks

Advocacy – The act of pleading or arguing in favor of something, such as a cause, idea or policy; active support.

Although Mauritania declared slavery a crime in 2007 and thereby joining ALL nations in officially making slavery illegal, the practice continues in many nations under many disguises. Haiti has been tabbed as the poorest nation in the western hemisphere with ~ 80% of its population living in poverty and a 53% literacy rate. These two factors has led to a modern day form of slavery called “Restavek”. Restavek is a Haitian Creole term which means “one who stays with” but commonly translated as “child slave or domestic servant”. It is estimated that 1 in 15 children in Haiti is a Restavek and the age range is usually from 4 to 14 years old.

The common story played out on a daily basis looks something like this: families struggle with mouths to feed and children to care for. The parents, who may or may not be a part of the 47% of the population who are not literate, decide it would be in the best interest of the child to send them into the city where they can live with a family and help with daily chores in exchange for the opportunity to go to school and get an education. This is rarely the outcome. The children typically are not sent to school and go from being a child one day to slave the next. They are forced to work long hours cooking, cleaning and fetching water and are often neglected, abused and even raped.

There are an estimated 300,000 Restaveks in Haiti. Imagine your children, nieces or nephews being forced into this life. However, there is hope. Through the support of orphanages such as All My Heart Haiti, The Hands and Feet Project, Servants of All Ministries, Restavek Freedom and the Jean R. Cadet Restavek Organization, the lives of these children can be changed and the slavery cycle broken.

James 1:27 – Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.

First Choice Physical Therapy is an advocate for the orphans and Restavek in Haiti.

Scott Champagne, PT

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