Restavèk (n.): A modern form of slavery affecting 250,000 Haitian children.
Haitian parents are no different from parents elsewhere. They love their children and want them to grow up at home. Still, each year tens of thousands of rural Haitian parents send their children away to live with families in distant cities. They do so in the hope that their children will be sent to school. In reality, many end up in homes where they are subjected to exploitation, abuse, and neglect and are never sent to school. Today in Haiti, one in eight children are trapped in slavery.
What We Do:
To create the kind of social change needed to end child slavery permanently in Haiti, we’re addressing the conditions that perpetuate this system – extreme poverty and social acceptance of child slavery. Our goal is to help people to change their attitudes and beliefs about restavèk, and to take action in their communities to stop it.
- Child Rights Training – Each year, more than 1,000 women and men in Haiti graduate from our Child Rights Training. Using an interactive, dialogue-based curriculum developed in Haiti called Education is a Conversation (ESK), a group of 12-15 neighbors spend six-months meeting weekly to discuss topics like corporal punishment, sexual abuse, and child slavery. In this transformative exploration, participants learn about the rights of children, the dangers of sending their children away, how to raise awareness among family, friends, and neighbors, and how to create public accountability to protect and defend the rights of children. Upon completion, participants become Child Rights Activists in their neighborhoods.
- Child Protection Brigades – After neighbors graduate from Child Rights Training, these new Child Rights Activists come together to create volunteer, neighborhood Child Protection Brigades that are the first-line of defence for vulnerable children in their neighborhoods.
- Adult Survivor Network – We’re convening more than 500 adult survivors in peer dialogue groups, with the goal to help them overcome the stigma associated with those who’ve lived through child slavery and organize themselves to speak out against the practice. Members have launched an advocacy effort to empower fellow adult survivors to find their voice and play a leading role in ending child slavery.
In September 2015, Beyond Borders and Free the Slaves launched a new alliance to end child slavery in Haiti.
Evelyn Benèch was only 10-years-old when her parents sent her from their remote rural community to live with a family in Port-au-Prince. Although an urban family promised to care for her and send her to school, they instead forced her to work nonstop and regularly abused her. Evelyn became trapped in restavèk slavery.
Fortunately for Evelyn, her mother participated in a child rights training sponsored by Beyond Borders. As she learned about the great risks facing children who live apart from their families, Evelyn’s mother decided to do all she could to find and retrieve her daughter. It wasn’t easy, but eventually, Evelyn’s mother found her and brought her back home where Evelyn, now 16, goes to school.