Sitting on the Sidelines
On a small street in a town right outside of Port-au-Prince, I met a small boy with a yellow shirt, no shoes and a very dirty face. He looked very sad and very desperate, with seemingly no self-esteem. His name was Job. He was 14 and had been living in restavek since the age of 5. After his parents died, he, his 3 brothers and his friend Daniel decided come to Duplan to search for a job and a better life.
Job says that unfortunately, when he arrived in Duplan he ran into a man named Felix. Felix asked him questions about himself and where he lived. After talking with him, Felix decided to move Job to his house. The first week that Job was there, everything was good. He got enough food, sleep, and time to play. After the first week, however, his life started to change. His day started looking something like this: wake up at 3AM to fetch the water, herd the goats, go to the market, tend to the garden, clean the house, mop, cook, ending after 9 PM every day. Most of the time he was very tired, hungry and dirty but he could not do anything about it because he was alone. He wanted to go to school but he didn’t have money or access to school.
A week after our initial meeting, I met with Job outside of a school. He sat by himself along with the goats, assisting the children who played football. I sat down beside him and asked him how he was; he was very shy to answer with closed body language. When he finally spoke I could barely hear him. He didn’t want to participate in the football championship because he didn’t have any friends. His face was sad, lacking self-esteem and seemed very desperate. I asked him if I could help him. He asked if I could help him go to school because he wanted to get out of restavek. He asked that I go to talk to his host parent (Felix) to reduce the amount he had to do so he could go to school. While he was speaking to me, he began to cry.
It has been 7 months since I met Job, and he is now enrolled in school and is in the 2nd grade. He is very intelligent and always completes his lessons. After I went to talk to his host parent, Job’s living conditions have changed and his self-esteem has improved. When I visit him at his school, he is always smiling. He now believes in himself and has the confidence to participate in activities, like football. He even has a best friend now and wants to be a teacher when he grows up. His life has changed completely.
I love seeing this change in Job. It proves to me just how far an education and a little love and friendship will go. With your help, we can change the lives of children like Job!
Tuesday, March 03, 2015 9:37:15 AM
Where is she now - Marilaine
Below is an update from Marilaine on how her life has been since moving in to the Transitional Home. (If you missed the powerful documentary be sure to watch it! Go to http://to.pbs.org/1ECVSvL)
My name is Marilaine; I am 15 years old. I was a restavek. I have now lived in the Restavek Freedom Transitional home since January 7, 2014. It’s been over a year since I first breathed freedom.
My life changed the day when you came to visit me because now I am free. I now think I am the luckiest of all students in school and I thank God every day. I am free; I can smile, visit my family, talk to them on the phone, go to school each day, play, have enough to eat and I now have dreams for my future. None of this happened when I lived with my host family.
At the Transitional House we are sisters and friends, but Rosemyrtha and Nerline are my best friends. I’m in a very good school and they teach me a lot of things, but I like science and math the best. Now I am doing two grades at the same time (3rd and 4th) through an accelerated program so that next year I will finish with primary school.
I have enjoyed everything I have experienced at the Transitional Home this past year. My favorite was when I got to be present at the finale of the Miss Haiti competition, and they even came to the Transitional Home to visit! I asked them questions and they taught me to walk like them. We even had our own contest of Miss Transitional House, and I was second. I love playing with my sisters, teasing Mamie Adeline and Tatie Regine, going to the beach, eating pizza in the restaurant with Mamie Joan and having visitors like Life Church, Calvary Church and others. They are strangers at first, but they love us. I have a lot of fun.
When I grow up I want to be a nurse. This will allow me to help others and take care of them as the Foundation and the staff have taken care of me. In the future I hope that the world finds joy and peace, and that all children are equal with all families will be able to take care of their children. I would advise any child living in restavek to be brave and strong because God has a plan for each of us. There are people put around us, like angels, to comfort and guide the weak and sad; look for them. If I can find the joy of life now, why can’t they?
If you would like to help a child living in restavek, consider child sponsorship. For $30/month ($360/year) you will be giving a child in restavek the gift of education. Your sponsorship provides tuition, books, a uniform, and most importantly, the love and support of a child advocate. Go to http://bit.ly/1AnWGmH for more information.
Tuesday, February 03, 2015 9:39:00 AM
TONIGHT!! Join us at 10/9c on PBS for the second episode of the...
TONIGHT!! Join us at 10/9c on PBS for the second episode of the powerful documentary, A Path Appears, featuring Haiti and Restavek Freedom.
Monday, February 02, 2015 11:53:44 AM