Book Bank program in Haiti

The Effects of the Restavek Life on the Ability to Learn in School

By Loren Watson

The Chronicle of Higher Education says students need seven qualities to learn. They are awareness, interest, motivation, relevance, engagement, reinforcement, and support.
However, a Haitian Restavek child's life makes most of these qualities unattainable.  

A State of Poverty

“Poverty reduces a child’s readiness for school because it leads to poor physical health and motor skills, diminishes a child’s ability to concentrate and remember information, and reduces attentiveness, curiosity and motivation.” (The Effects of Poverty on Education, ChildFund International)

When a child is living as a Restavek, they are in a state of poverty. Consequently, they eat much less and engage in a great deal of hard labor.

Poverty reduces a child’s readiness for school

Haiti Now’s Efforts

Haiti Now has provides textbooks, tuition, and school supplies to Restavek children. This way, they are more likely to succeed in school. But if their lives are not reshaped, learning and progress toward a better life are difficult. Therefore, they need to leave their horrid conditions.

What is Needed

Restavek children often don’t have enough food, the barest of possessions, and rarely have a room or a bed to sleep on. Ordinarily, they wake before the family to fetch water and begin preparing their breakfast. They are only allowed to sleep after finishing all the household chores. This is often well after the family has gone to sleep. Generally, Restavek children have always lived like this.
Besides not having enough sustenance or sleep to be able to learn well, they endure abuse. The families they serve subject them to physical, verbal, and sexual abuse.
The experience of trying to go to school, for the few who get to do this, can be very difficult in itself. The girls use most of their mental energy on processing the abandonment and abuse. Usually, they should be able to trust their families. Their minds are busy trying to cope with their living situations and are not open to learning.
According to the Trauma and Learning Policy Initiative (TLPI), childhood trauma hurts learning. Namely, it can weaken concentration, memory, organizational, and language abilities.
A TLPI article called "Helping Traumatized Children Learn reads", “Learning to read, write, take part in a discussion, and solve mathematical problems rests on many underlying foundations—organization, comprehension, memory, the ability to produce work, engagement in learning, and trust. … Not surprisingly, trauma … (can) thwart the establishment of a coherent sense of self, compromise the ability to attend to classroom tasks and instructions, interfere with the ability to organize and remember new information, and hinder the grasping of cause-and-effect relationships—all of which are necessary to process information effectively.”
Restavek girls need to leave their brutal circumstances. Afterward, they will be able to find a home in the residential school Haiti Now plans to build.
Book Bank program in Haiti

What Could Be

Accordingly, Haiti Now is raising funds to build a residential school for Restavek girls in Haiti.
Accelerated Education
The school will in three years provide the equal of a sixth-grade education. This will incorporate problem-solving and reasoning skills. Teachers will attend to social and emotional development. In particular, this includes conflict resolution, leadership, social interaction, creativity, and technology.
Mental Health
The school will provide many mental health services. This allows the girls to begin to heal from the abuse suffered while in domestic servitude. Furthermore, the school having staff trained to care for abused children can meet the girls' needs.
Entrepreneurial Incubation
Also, the school will have a full-time, in-tandem business incubation curriculum. Likewise, it will focus on the teaching of collaborative skills.

Hope for the Future

To summarize, with your support, Haiti Now could begin to provide these items to Restavek girls of Haiti. Therefore, please consider contributing today.

Hope for the Future