Restavek Freedom
Because of you... Hurricane Relief Update

Because of you, so many Haitians whose lives were devastated by Hurricane Matthew have received food, water, shelter and immediate relief. There is still much need, and the road ahead is long. However we have seen real hope infiltrate the despair as we’ve delivered more than 10 tons of food to the greater Port Salut and mountain communities, repaired dozens of homes, and provided medical care to hundreds more.

Shortly after the hurricane, our intern Emmanuela grabbed an old video camera so she could show you what has happened to her home and her community. She also captured some of our early relief efforts.

If you have not already, please consider donating today so we can reach even more children and families affected by the storm:

Today we  mobilized 40 volunteers and staff to work on various projects, from construction to debris clearing. We are organizing mobile clinics to visit those who don’t have access to medical care, chainsaw crews to clear debris, and construction teams to provide shelter.

We also greatly appreciate the many local Haitian businesses donating to help. Epidor, the local bakery, sent 800 packs of bread. Brana, the company that makes Prestige and Heineken, donated 20 pallets of bottled water. A local mill gave 1,000 bags of cornmeal. Thank you to the many supporters both here and in Haiti providing relief!

Water continues to be a major focus.  Today we hit fresh clean water and now have a well that will produce 4,000 gallons per day. This will greatly increase our ability to provide water for the broader community, and we appreciate our partners at Water for Life in fast-tracking the process to dig this well.

Our teams have removed all of the debris on the beach path, which will now allow cars to access the hotels and homes in that area. In addition, we cleared trees from many homes in the area and cleared a path to the city water line so they can inspect the line and start to repair the pipes. It will be a major effort to repair and could take months.

We are moving from community to community in our area, repairing homes and schools to protect children and ensure they can get back to learning. The outpouring of gratitude from those we’ve been able to help has been overwhelming. Thank you for helping to transform lives!  Your donations are providing the food, water, and building supplies these families need.

Please consider also sharing with others this opportunity to provide tangible hope to those who lost everything in Hurricane Matthew, and every dollar donated will be matched up to $100,000!

Thank you for standing with us,

Joan and Ray Conn

Wednesday, October 19, 2016 1:14:46 PM

Hurricane Matthew Puts Kids At Risk of Restavek

Prior to Hurricane Matthew slamming the southern peninsula of Haiti last Tuesday, thousands of children in Haiti were at risk of being sent into restavek, a form of modern-day slavery.  The risk was particularly high for those born in the very poor, rural regions of Haiti where families tend to be large and opportunities for education limited. Restavek Freedom was already hard at work in the southern region, educating families about the realities of restavek, providing job training and literacy classes, and supporting and reuniting returned restavek children to their families. (You can donate now to Restavek Freedom’s relief efforts now at and every dollar you donate will be matched up to $100,000)

Now, the hurricane-devastated area is an even more dangerous place for a child, and the chances of being trafficked extremely high. In addition to the climbing death toll from the storm, Save the Children stresses, “reports also indicate at least 2,000 children who have been separated from their parents or were living in orphanages have been evacuated.” Children who have lost or been separated from their parents are left vulnerable to middlemen who may capitalize on the situation and take defenseless children to the cities to become unpaid domestic servants.  Moreover, families whose only sources of income were lost in the hurricane or subsequent flooding may soon be faced with the agonizing decision of trying to keep their families alive, or sending one or more of their children into the restavek system.

Port Salut, where Restavek Freedom was working long before the hurricane, was one of the hardest-hit towns in the Caribbean.  The New York Times reports, “The loss in this coastal town is all but entire…hardly a home was left untouched, and many were reduced to splinters and rocks. Fields fallowed by salt water baked in the afternoon heat, while palm trees the width of telephone poles were snapped in half.”

Luckily, Restavek Freedom already had boots on the ground when the hurricane hit, as a number of their staff in Haiti live and work in Port Salut.  Their Learning Center quickly became a staging area for local workers and volunteers to distribute relief supplies and begin clean-up and reconstruction.  Already knowing the surrounding area well, Restavek Freedom staff were in a unique position to support affected families and defend children from being sent into restavek.  As families whose lives depended on the livestock and farmlands destroyed in the storm were trying to figure out how to feed their families, Restavek Freedom was already stepping in to help.  And with safe drinking water being an equally pressing need, Restavek Freedom was grateful for its partners who provided safe water systems and supplies.  One recent major breakthrough was finding access to a deep well with plenty of drinkable water. This meant the organization would be able to deliver water by truck to communities without access.

Restavek Freedom’s mission is to end child slavery in this lifetime, and never has this been a more critical goal. Following natural disasters such as this and the 2010 earthquake, vulnerable children are at a particularly high risk of being trafficked.  As Save the Children explains, “Under ordinary circumstances, impoverished families who can’t afford to support their kids often send them to live with and work for another family. When disasters strike, traffickers will capitalize on this concept. They approach families in need and promise a better future for the children.”  The concept they are referring to is children who are promised an education in exchange for light household work – a shifty way of luring a child into the restavek system.

Restavek Freedom stands by its mission now more than ever. In Port-au-Prince, where the organization is based, and in the community of Port Salut, where the families it already served were devastated by the hurricane, staff are working hard to provide relief to families and do everything in its power to keep them together.  Thanks to generous supporters and friends around the world, this relief is reaching those hit hardest by Hurricane Matthew and keeping vulnerable children safe.

Learn how you can help Restavek Freedom’s relief efforts at and every dollar you donate will be matched up to $100,000.

Monday, October 17, 2016 5:18:06 PM

We were talking today in our office about the extent of the...

We were talking today in our office about the extent of the devastation from Hurricane Matthew, and how easy it is to get demoralized in the face of so much need. We were encouraged by the quote below from a good friend reminding us you start with what’s in front of you. For some of us it is giving what we can. For those able to serve in Haiti, it is starting with your employees, your partners, your neighbors. You start with best practice relief efforts, learning from those who have gone before. Slowly, together, we can make a difference… even if it is not obvious that we can.

Mother Teresa once wrote - “The good you do today, will often be forgotten. Do good anyway. Give the best you have, and it will never be enough. Give your best anyway…” Fred Smith adapted the idea from her beautiful poem and shared- “Problems are often so large we cannot imagine our gift making any difference.
Give anyway.
Organizations are so numerous it is hard to know who to choose.
Give anyway.
I cannot be sure their mission is completely in line with mine.
Give anyway.
People may accuse me of being naïve and easily influenced.
Give anyway.
The situation could only get worse and not better.
Give anyway.
Anything I do will be too small to be noticed.
Give anyway.” - Fred Smith

Thursday, October 13, 2016 1:19:11 PM

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