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Mental Health for Haiti's Most Vulnerable Girls
When girls from impoverished homes are sent to work for urban families in hopes of a better life, many become ‘restaveks’, a term often applied to children who find themselves exploited in domestic servitude.
Restavek children do not have the chance to be children at all. Forced to carry out adult tasks in high-stress and abusive environments, they often live with the effects of deep trauma. Some symptoms of mental health problems they experience include crying, sadness, rumination, stealing, fighting, depression, violence, bullying, feelings of neglect, anxiety, and feelings of shame.
We at Haiti Now, with the guidance of trained mental health professionals, have developed a process of healing that helps address and mitigate the effects of trauma. This is our first step in creating a safe house for all our girls.
A Responsible Pathway to Healing
Haiti Now has the responsibility to safeguard girls from all forms of abuse. Our team collaborates with mental health professionals to provide ongoing mental health support for our residents. These rehabilitation staff joins us in emphasizing compassion, empowerment, transparency, and accountability within our programs.
To protect and improve the mental health of former Restavek children, we at Haiti Now:
- Establish a Code of Conduct and train staff to practice 'active listening'.
- Foster social-emotional learning through teamwork, collaboration, self-motivation, problem-solving, conflict-resolution, and democratic participation.
- Maintain healthy relationships between our girls and their families and communities.
- Keep records and undertake assessments for each child.
- Provide immediate healthcare and plan for physical examinations.
- Provide healthy diet options.
- Maintain an interactive and positive shared space.
- Promote good personal hygiene.