A story from World Wide Village supporter, Sue Masek.
Deeply ingrained in the culture of the impoverished former slave colony, the practice of poor families giving away children to wealthier acquaintances or relatives is not uncommon in Haiti. A restavek is a child in Haiti who is sent by his or her parents to work for a host household as a domestic servant because the parents lack the resources required to support the child. The term comes from the French language rester avec, “to stay with”. Parents unable to care for children may send them to live with wealthier (or less poor) families; often their own relatives or friends. The expectation is that the children will receive food and housing in exchange for doing housework.
“The children are taken in as servants, often forced to work without pay, isolated from other children in the household and seldom sent to school. A restavek is a child placed in domestic slavery,” said Jean-Robert Cadet, a former restavek. Many restaveks continue to live in poverty and are at grave risk for physical, emotional, and sexual abuse. The practice meets formal international definitions of modern day slavery and child trafficking, and affects an estimated 300,000 Haitian children.
Luckily, Marinese lived in a community supported by World Wide Village. She was allowed to attend the school in Williamson and have an opportunity that not all restavekscan claim. The day the team from Nebraska met Marinese, they felt God calling them to show Christ’s love tangibly. Not only did they construct desks for the school, but they also changed the life of Marinese. Dave & Sue Masek chose to become sponsors for Marinese through the WWV Student Sponsorship Program and gave above and beyond to provide a school uniform and shoes. The team from Nebraska also gave some of their own clothing to bless Marinese. These clothes brought a smile to her face and showed her that someone truly cared for her.
Sue Masek says, “Now when I go to Haiti, Marinese finds me, has a big smile, gives hugs and has confidence. She wants to be a nurse and help others. Many students blossom when they have a sponsor. I have seen it so many times. They are given the opportunity to feel special, loved and cared about and an education is a ticket in Haiti. Whatever we do for the least of these, we do for the Lord. I feel richly blessed. I receive more than I ever give.” Sue also sponsors a boy named Aland in Luly. Thanks to her generosity these children are growing up with the chance for an education and a chance to experience the love of Christ in a tangible way.
Sue Masek is in Haiti this week visiting Marinese, Aland and other students in the World Wide Village schools. If you are interested in helping World Wide Village continue to create sustainable communities in Haiti through education, please contact us at: firstname.lastname@example.org. Sponsor a student, host a Student Sponsorship Sunday at your church or book club, host a fundraiser for school supplies and more! We would love to talk with you about how YOU can make a difference for restaveks like Marinese and other children in Haiti.