Tuesday, November 15, 2011

55 Kids + Restavek Awareness Fun Run = 18 Beds & Mattresses!

We are overwhelmed by the efforts of 55 children who together raised $4,600 during the Restavek Awareness Fun Run.  This donation will provide 18 former restaveks most likely their first night's sleep on a bed.  $4,600 will cover the costs of 18 beds, mattress and delivery to Haiti.  We pray that as each former slave child finds comfort in these beds, they will understand the love of their Creator in a new way.

Teach these things and insist that everyone learn them.  Don't  let anyone think less of you because you are young.  Be an example to all believers in what you teach, in the way you live, in your love, your faith, and your purity.   1 Timothy 4:11-12

Thank you to the 55 children who set an example to all believers in the way they live!

Friday, September 30, 2011

Restavek Awareness Fun Run - Blown Away by Response!

Our first annual Restavek Awareness Fun Run was a great success.  We are BLOWN AWAY by the response and great turn out.  Thank you to those of you who set apart your morning for such a great cause!

5 Reasons to Celebrate:
1)  55 children participated.
2)  Most of the children had sponsors which spread an even wider circle of awareness.
3)  We have already collected over $2,000 and the sponsor dollars are still rolling in!  Donations will go towards furnishing the Restavek safe house.
4)  Awareness and education was given to our runners, their parents and grandparents by the great demonstration on Restaveks given by Kari Bristol, event coordinator with the help of runner Kayla.
5)  Other donations were raised by the event booths.  Volunteers sold muffins, cookies, thank you cards, popsicles, t-shirts, candy grams and books.  Thank you!

We look forward to announcing the date of our next Fun Run!

Monday, September 12, 2011

Restavek Awareness Fun Run

Restavek Awareness Fun Run - Saturday, September 24th  9:00AM 

Healing Haiti is celebrating it's first Restavek event by including who else, KIDS!  Our children will raise money and awareness for slave children in Haiti.  This is a kid-friendly event, focusing on how they can make a difference, specifically in the lives of the Restavek child.  It is sure to be a great event!

If you would like to participate, please see the link below!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

44 %

Learn to do good.  Seek justice.  Help the oppressed.  Defend the orphan.  Fight for the rights of the widows.  
Isaiah 1:17

44 % of the children currently living in Cite Soleil (the slums of Haiti) are Restavek children.  33% of the households in Port Au Prince, Haiti's capital, have a Restavek.  A very conservative estimate is that 225,000 children are currently Restaveks.

The facts are mind boggling.  It is difficult to wrap my mind around the reality.   225,000 children.  Beaten, uneducated, malnourished.  I pray God gives me the courage not to look past these statistics, but to understand that each number represents one of His creation.

The LORD replies, "I have seen violence
     done to the helpless
  and I have heard the groans of the poor.
Now I will rise up to rescue them,
     as they have longed for me to do."
The LORD's promises are pure,
     like silver refined seven times in a furnace,
     purified seven times over.

Therefore, LORD, we know you will protect
     the oppressed,
   preserving them forever from this lying 
even though the wicked strut about,
   and evil is praised throughout the land.

Psalm 12: 5-8

How can this exist?

I had the opportunity to share my Jamal experience (see previous post) with one of the founders of Healing Haiti, Jeff Gacek.  He opened my eyes to the brutal cultural practice of  Restavek placement.  Once a child is placed as a Restavek, they are deemed less valuable.  In fact, the term Restavek in itself is derogatory.

How can this exist?  Haitian women are often stuck in a predicament.  They are so desperately poor they cannot afford to feed or educate their children.  In hopes of a better future for her child, the mother chooses to give her child to a slightly less poor family.  She assumes that her child will be fed and given an education.  The mother traditionally looses all contact with the child.

In reality, this child is expected to "earn their keep" by doing the majority of the household chores, which are labor intensive.  The Restavek works from sun up to sun down fetching water, cleaning and caring for the other children in the household.  The Restavek is given no time for play.  2/3 of the Restaveks are girls between the ages of 5-16.  They are often refused an education.  They are not allowed to speak unless spoken to.  They eat inferior food and sleep on a mat on the floor instead of a mattress.  Tragically, they are often physically, emotionally and sexually abused.

Haitian law states that once a child reaches the age of 16, legally they have to be paid for their labor.  Restaveks are then kicked out of the household and have to fend for themselves on the streets.  Uneducated and abused, former Restaveks turn to prostitution and gangs to find a means to survive.

Monday, July 4, 2011

My Heart Was Broken

He lives in Cite Soleil, Haiti.  He ran up to me with arms spread wide and a toothless grin, oh what a smile.  He clamored on my back.  The only thing he had on was an over sized green sweatshirt despite the 95 degree temperature.  It was clear he yearned for affection and it delighted me to hold him.  
He was one of the children that I had often thought about since my first visit to Haiti four months prior.  My husband was taken by him as well in his first visit which created an even stronger bond.  His name is Jamal.

It was clear by the way they attempted to dismiss him from the group that the other kids in the area didn't like Jamal. They motioned to his toothless smile and waved him off.  They shook their heads at him, letting me know that he didn't merit my attention.  This made my desire to hold him even stronger.  
Jamal hopped onto my back and I walked away from the unfriendly group so I could give Jamal a little comfort without the distraction.  Moments later I felt sharp jabbing at my back and legs.  The older kids had found sticks and used them as prods.  Worse yet, I discovered I wasn't their target.  Jamal took the majority of the abuse to his bare backside!  I looked at Jamal and expected to see tears and face wincing with pain and humiliation.  

Instead, I saw Jamal's beautiful smile.  

At that moment something powerful flipped inside me.  Questions raced through my mind.   How many years has Jamal suffered this painful abuse, that he was able to completely ignore it?  How can a group of children be so cruel?  What have these children witnessed to make them act like this?  Anger flared.  I tried calm down.  I instinctually set Jamal down behind me.  I chewed out the group for being so cruel.  They turned and slinked away.

I picked up Jamal again, determined to protect him for as long as I could. It broke my heart to leave him.

This was the beginning of our investigation into the Haitian culture which lead us to discover the deep injustice of the Restavek that over 225,000 Haitian children suffer.