Every girl deserves care. Borne of desperation and perpetuated by poverty, the restavek system exploits Haiti’s most vulnerable girls.
80% of Haitian citizens live below the poverty line and roughly half live on less than $2 per day. Life is difficult and uncertain for many, especially children. Children as young as 6 often find themselves contributing to their family’s subsistence. It is no surprise, then, that poor and desperate parents would send their children to host families with a promise of better living conditions and educational opportunities.
In reality, the children find themselves overworked, neglected, and mistreated. Without the affection and support of a family, they often endure physical abuse and emotional trauma. Lacking opportunities to play, bond, and grow with their peers, their development suffers. Working long hours and unable to regularly attend school, any chance of a decent future is dim.
Restavek also describes the system in which these vulnerable children are neglected, abused, and exploited. Finally, it describes a childhood marked by neglect, isolation, and fear.
1 Of Every 4. Is the number of Unpaid Child Domestic Workers (Age 5-17) in Haiti.
A System Driven by Poverty
The Restavek system persists due to Haiti’s extreme poverty and widespread acceptance. These issues are deeply rooted and resilient. As such, short-term solutions are inadequate. For example, although family reunification is a virtuous goal, the families often cannot be found or remain unable to adequately care for their children. Despite this complex situation, together we can make a difference. We have developed a long-term solution to house, educate, and empower former Restavek girls.