It's hard to imagine that we have child slaves just hundreds of miles from the United States. It's true; Haiti has an estimated 300,000 - 500,000 children serving as Restaveks. A Restavek is a child who is sent by their parents to work for a host household as a domestic servant because the parents lack the resources required to support the child. The term "Restavek" comes from the French term "reste avec" or "one who stays with; in Creole, "stay with". Restaveks may refer to a child staying with a host family, but usually refers specifically to those who are abused.
In Haiti, parents unable to care for children may send them to live with host families. This is perceived as acceptable because in Haitian culture, it is normal for housing to be shared among members of an extended family, including distant relatives. The children receive food and housing, and sometimes and education, in exchange for housework. However, many restaveks live in poverty, they often do not receive and education and sometimes the child could be abused, beaten or raped.
The United Nation considers restevek a "modern form of slavery". Restaveks are mostly young girls around the age of 9 and younger. However, young males are in this system as well.
You can often find children walking around the villages at school time. The reason is not because they don't want to go to school, but because they have no opportunity to attend. Many children are orphans and/or restaveks, and don't have the chance to attend school for an education. They are slaves to their host family.
I ask Mrs. Louisemene, Principal of Port de Bonheur, "Are there any restaveks here?" Her reply, "wi Anpil" (yes, many). I asked, "how many?" She replied, "sou" about 20. A lot of parents send their children to be restaveks thinking that they are going to live a better life, but often this is not the case. In fact, many children are given away because the parent(s) can simply not afford to feed them. These children work long hours in horrible conditions, sleeping on cardboard on the ground, and are often sexually abused.
The Least of These will continue to work with the school staff and others in Port de Bonheur to find restaveks, enroll them in school, feed them, and help release them from the childhood life of a restavek.
If you would like to help please click on the "Sponsor a Child" page and sponsor a child. God Bless You!