By Mathia Philippe, Child Advocate
In Haiti, children aren’t always
viewed as important or valuable.
are often considered last in things. This can be seen at a party, for example,
where children are served at the very end or after the adults. Children are placed at the back of the line,
as if they are nothing.
Negative words and actions have
negative consequences on the minds of children at school and in their lives. In
my work with children, I have seen many cases like this. Children end up having
to repeat a grade because of it. I have learned to take time talking with them
in order to get a better understanding of their needs.
Often, after meeting with a child,
I realize their problem is value. That
is to say, they undervalue themselves.
They don’t believe in themselves because of what their relatives say
about them, and it has a negative impact on them. For example, I have a child in my caseload
who always gets bad grades. When I talk
with her, I find out her aunt always tells her she will never amount to
anything. Because of this, the girl is
no longer interested in school. I
encourage her and let her know she has value.
I also tell her that her life will improve and her future will be
brighter. I let her know I love her and
that a lot of other people love her, too.
In general, children believe what
people say about them.
When we ask the
kids in our program who they want to be like, some of them say, “I don’t want
to be like anyone.” This lets us know
that the children don’t like the way the adults around them are living. In my work, I don’t just talk with the kids,
but also with the school principals, the teachers, and the parents, so they can
also support the children psychologically.
I let them know that positive words have a positive impact and negative
words have a negative impact on the kids.
I encourage them to use words like this with the kids: “You are very
nice, beautiful, intelligent smart…”
“You will do well if you keep on going…” Or, “if you do it this way, it may
I am so happy to be doing this work, because I
think I can change the life of a child like this. I can work to change people’s attitudes
towards children and how they treat them. As an advocate, I can also talk
directly with the children to show them how loveable they are. I show them how valuable they are. And I can see them starting to feel more confident
and comfortable with themselves.
Monday, May 02, 2016 4:51:15 PM
Success Requires Support!
By Nadine Augustin Paul, Child
Danis* came to be registered in our program, he was so small that I was not
sure he was old enough for school.
When I asked how old he was, he responded,
“M’am, I am old enough, I just haven’t grown because I am often sick.” The
woman who brought him lived in his neighborhood and knew what he was going
through at his sister’s house.
He began our Accelerated Learning Program (ALP) last year,
but had to repeat the class because he had a lot of trouble concentrating and
staying focused. After the report cards
went out last year, his sister decided to keep him at home rather than send him
to school. In her opinion, because he
did not succeed the first year, he was a lost case. I talked with his sister
and convinced her to give him another chance before deciding not to re-enroll
At the beginning of this year, we (the ALP team) considered
the kids in our program who have special emotional and academic needs, and
decided to focus on building a supportive community for them. We determined this community should include
the child’s advocate, teachers, and the family (or host family) of the child.
As Danis was very hyperactive in class, I advised his
teachers to keep him busy. I suggested
giving him lots of activities so he could always have something to do in class.
In order to help Danis channel his wonderful energy, I recommended the teachers
choose him as the boys’ leader in class and find him a place in front of the
class, next to the teacher.
Now, Danis is one of the most outgoing and confident children
I have ever met.
He never hesitates to
talk about any subject in front of the class or with me. He sometimes shares
with me how his sister is mean to him at home. I always encourage him to stay
positive, while also talking to his sister about being more supportive. I have discovered Danis to be a strong kid,
and as his performance has increased in class, each of us has been really
impressed. He has scored very well on
the past three exams.
Danis’s case teaches me that we can always do something to
make a difference in someone’s life, but sometimes it requires a village.
Friday, April 29, 2016 3:31:38 PM
An Irreplaceable Experience of Freedom
saw the impact we are having on these kids’ lives, and how we are bringing them
- Natacha, Restavek Freedom Child Advocate
if this summer, Mirlande* had the opportunity to experience life like a normal
child in Haiti?
children like her, trapped in the system of child slavery called “restavek”,
summer camp is a remarkable chance for them to dream and to make a significant
impact on their lives. Instead of humiliation, Mirlande receives encouragement.
Instead of despair, she sees hope. Instead of laboring all day, she gets to be
a child. Instead of feeling invisible, she is seen, and she is loved.
children like Mirlande, camp represents songs, campfires, talent shows and
crafts. And it means something even more precious: FREEDOM.
summer, you can provide the experience of FREEDOM for hundreds of children!
a typical year, many children go off to camp for the summer, while Haitian
children living in restavek work all day at home. To reach those children who
are often ignored, we created a summer day camp that children in restavek
attend alongside their peers from their very own schools and
neighborhoods. The kids experience freedom
from their work while building relationships with their classmates who aren’t
in restavek, creating a cultural bridge!
escape the exploitation and humiliation they routinely suffer and experience freedom
through the encouragement and love of our Child Advocates at our summer camp as
painting, drawing and sports
French, English, and math
important life skills classes on health, sex education, and children’s rights
themselves through crafts, music, and drama
relationships with their peers, neighbors and Child Advocates
Freedom’s camp is a breath of fresh air, a true experience of freedom for the
children in our Child Advocacy Program. Nadine, a Restavek Freedom Child
Advocate, excitedly shared, “
of this camp, many of the children don’t have anyone who cares about them,
listens to them, or loves them. But at
summer camp, they feel loved and valued.
When a child returns from camp, they
return changed. As camps encourage engagement with other children in the home,
school and community, these children are now seen as something more than a laborer.
Their perspective, outlook and even treatment can change for the better. Camp
creates a cultural bridge that allows children in restavek to cross that
divide, no longer marginalized by society.
camp sows the seeds for change – not only in the nation’s culture, but in the
hearts and minds of every smiling, singing child. And $47 is all it costs to
send one child to camp in 2016.
goal is to fully fund 300 children! Would you like to help a child in restavek
experience freedom this summer? Go to
restavekfreedom.org/SummerCamp and share FREEDOM by sending a child in restavek to camp!
to a generous donor, every gift to this summer camp opportunity WILL BE MATCHED
through May 25, dollar for dollar, up to $7,000! Thank you in advance for blessing Haiti’s
children this summer!
Thursday, April 28, 2016 2:27:02 PM