Teens Launch Restavek (Child Slavery) Prevention Program in Haiti
How have seven teenagers from the USA decided to help prevent indentured servitude and even rescue slaves in Haiti?
By creating jobs!
The Huffington Post reported in 2017 that the restavek phenomenon is “a type of human transaction is both common and accepted in Haitian society, a practice dating back to Haiti’s independence from France in 1804. The Creole word “restavèk” literally translates “to stay with” and is used to define a system born of a way for desperate parents to send one or two of their children to live with slightly wealthier families or friends in hopes of securing for them care, education and ultimately a better way of life. Unfortunately, an inevitable environment of desperation has led the restavèk system to evolve into the slavery practice we see today.” The Renand Foundation has been working to end the restavek system since 2015 by providing education scholarships, wellness/medical support and critical life assistance; the nonprofit coordinates bimonthly trips to Bassin Bleu (the mountainous village in which the organization primarily works) that allows donors to serve sponsored youth/families by painting their newly built homes, planting gardens, enrolling sponsored youth into school, feeding community members, and even assisting medical and wellness professionals in providing care and health education.
One of these recent “voluntourism” trips spurred the creation of the Renand’s Teen Project with a mission to create sustainable jobs for families affected by the restavek phenomenon. By enrolling globally minded individuals to give monthly donations of $125, $175 or $300, the teens and their adult mentors can provide salaries for jobs that improve the community and economy. Jobs thus far created include landfill/waste management, tour guides to less frequented sites (such as waterfalls and rural ruins), animal husbandry, and souvenir crafting from reclaimed materials (trash), for example. Each job is designed to ultimately provide enough revenue from the job itself to replace the salary paid initially to the individual by the Renand Foundation.
The teens envision villagers paying small fees to landfill/waste managers to ultimately end the toxic processes of burning trash or leaving unattended around/in homes to attract disease, bacteria, rats, insects, and other health threatening organisms.
The seven teens also aim to provide financial planning education and the option for “savings accounts” with the nonprofit to assist families in saving up for homes, homes repairs/improvements, the purchase of livestock, investment in motorcycles for taxi work, etc. All families supported by the Renand’s Teen Project will have full access to screening for the greater organization’s additional services.
Both the youth and adults of the Renand Foundation believe in partnership with Haitians as the way to change the country for the better. The website www.renand.org says it best:
“Our partnership philosophy is simple: we provide rural families in Haiti with the means and infrastructure to do what we believe them to know how to do best: good child rearing.
We facilitate, support, educate and get out of the way as we firmly believe a child’s success resides at home.
We facilitate micro loans, livestock and moto-taxi purchases.
We support job creation, home build outs and repairs, as well as access to medical services.
We educate a community by investing in teachers, case managers and related programs.”