What is a Restavek?
Restavek. Rester: to stay. Avek: with.
Literally translates to child slave or domestic servant. Restaveks are usually between the ages of 4 and 15. They usually do all of the household chores, i.e. cooking, cleaning, washing, and fetching water. Unfortunately, they are often abused and most likely do NOT go to school.
Respire Haiti’s journey in Gressier, Haiti started with Megan meeting a Restavek on Bellevue Mountain. This precious 6 year old girl forever changed Megan’s future and gave Respire Haiti the direction in which God wanted them to go. Shortly after meeting this precious child, Respire Haiti Christian School began. Approximately 60% of the school’s student body are Restaveks.
Respire Haiti’s route for ending the Restavek crisis is through education and relationships. The reality that Respire Haiti has faced is that if we try to immediately remove every child from the situation they are in, we are just increasing the problem. The families and caregivers using Restaveks will just find another child to serve them. Instead, we have chosen to raise awareness about the Restavek situation in Haiti and in the United States and have chosen to educate our community about this situation. Through educating Gressier about the Restavek situation and using scripture and God’s love for children, we are able to create a better awareness of equality for these children and essentially CHANGE the mentality of our community. In addition, by establishing a relationship with the people in Gressier who are involved in the culturally accepted practice of using Restaveks we are given a voice that is heard.
Through educating community leaders, young adults and children about respect, abuse, violence, discipline and more, we are desiring to help train this generation to STOP the practice of Restavek.