Dear EAPE Partner,
Haiti was the first nation to outlaw slavery, but you would have a hard time believing that if you got a glimpse of the life of a “restavek”. A restavek is a Haitian child who is as close to being a slave as is legally possible. There are approximately 300,000 of them.
The term ‘restavek’ in Creole (the language of Haiti) means ‘one who lives with people’. In reality a restavek is a domestic servant who resides with one of the better off Haitian families. On a given day you are likely to see a restavek washing dishes, scrubbing floors, running errands, and doing farm work in the blazing sun. Physical abuse is something that such a child has learned to expect from the master of the house and getting to eat left over food and sleeping on a dirt floor are the only rewards for enduring all of this.
Some restaveks are orphans; some are runaways who are pulled off the streets: but most are simply children who are given away by parents who lack the means to feed them. Such parents are willing to give up their children because they believe the lies that the host families will educate and care for these children and treat them as family members.
The missionary workers of Beyond Borders, our EAPE affiliate, have focused much of their attention on helping these unfortunate children. They provide literary programs because in a country where there is 70% illiteracy, being able to read and write provides a chance for restaveks to escape form their misery.
Working with sympathetic Haitian leaders, our workers are doing their best to encourage political action that would end the horrors of the restavek system. They are trying hard to challenge the churches of Haiti to call their members to not engage in this exploitation of children. And they are calling on American Christians who support ministries in Haiti to require the recipients of their aid to themselves abandon the restavek system.
In conjunction with Compassion International, EAPE has made it possible for American sponsors through monthly gifts to rescue children form the necessity of becoming restaveks. Because of EAPE’s efforts thousands of Haitian children are being fed, clothed, educated and evangelized. Graduates from the program in micro economic development that EAPE initiated at Eastern University are creating village industries and small businesses that Haitians can own and run themselves. Job creation, when you stop to think about it, is essential if Haitians are to escape from poverty.
Sadly, just when we were seeing some progress, Haiti has been hit by a food shortage. Undoubtedly, you’ve read about the food riots that have resulted form this. In the face of this set back EAPE is being challenged to triple its efforts. That’s where you come in! Your giving and praying are needed more now than ever! So, do all you can to help us to help not only the restaveks, but as many needy people as we can touch with God’s love.
P.S. Did you know that you can support EAPE conveniently and securely online? If you go to “Donate” you can make a one-time credit card donation or a pledge of monthly support. If you would like information about making a monthly gift automatically from your checking or savings account, please contact my office and they will be happy to answer any questions you may have and guide you through the process.
ABOUT TONY + JUNE 2008