Tag Archive: Justice


Dear Dada.

There are many things that happen in Gressier that rock my world…some in an amazing way…some in the most disturbing and disheartening way…this was unfortunately something that rocked me to the point of tears, nausea and begging God – please be aware that this blog is tough and really shows some of the darkness of Haiti.

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As I turned the corner onto my street, my mind was thinking about a million things until I heard a SCREAM and a cry for Help.

I stopped in the middle of the road and waited for a second…surely I didn’t hear that right.  Maybe she had just fallen and was hurt?  Maybe she was playing?

As I waited a second more, the screaming, yelling and begging to stop continued.   I turned around quickly and rushed to the house…as I got closer to the gate I realized it was open….I peaked in and saw someone hovering over one of the little girls in Michaelle’s 1st grade class.  She had two thin sticks in her hand and was BEATING Dada over and over as Dada laid helpless on the ground trying to defend herself….

I opened the door all the way and ran in….I ran up to the girl beating her (who was about my age)…my heart raced and without thinking I RIPPED the sticks out of her hands.  As she looked at me with eyes of FURY….I couldn’t believe I had just seen her beating this child…

I asked her what in the world Dada did…and she began yelling about how she never listens, she’s disobedient, she doesn’t do what she is told…I tried to calm down and ask her what she was told to do that she didn’t do….the girl yelled back at me that she refused to pick up the leaves off of the ground….

Dada looked up at me with the most scared and helpless eyes…the same helpless eyes that I remember from back in October when Jessica, Michaelle and I turned the corner of our street to head to their first day of school…I remember seeing a child through a sliver in the gate sitting on a cement block surrounded by dishes just washing.  I remember stopping, looking through the gate and having a flashback of Michaelle washing dishes just like that…Knowing there was NO way I could or wanted to pass her every day for the next year bringing my girls to school, I stopped at her house on the way back and enrolled her in our 1st grade.  Dada’s eyes stayed with me.~~

After trying to reason with Dada’s “caregiver” and her daughter (who was the one who had done the beating), I realized that in the midst of all this anger, there was no way that I would be able to explain how what they were doing was wrong.  That no matter what they THINK she is NOT a piece of “property”…that they don’t “Own” her…

I walked back to my house to give everyone some time to cool down…I PRAYED nonstop and returned back to the house in a much more calm manner…Explaining this part is nearly impossible…because it’s in times like this where Creole flows from my mouth and I don’t even know what I’m saying….I remember trying to explain to Dada’s caregiver (and her daughter) that ABUSE is illegal…that BEATING a child is NOT okay….I remember her yelling at me that Dada doesn’t listen…that I don’t understand because children in America listen… (HA! Right?)

After more than 15 minutes of explaining how Dada is NOT property…how God does NOT want us to treat children like this…how there are other ways of disciplining and punishing…and so much more, I felt like I had said my peace and that I needed to trust God to change their heart….not my own words.

Ultimately, I left Dada’s house that day feeling so helpless.  Feeling completely frustrated with the “way people handle children” here in Haiti.  After calling the “appropriate” people in Haiti, I still felt like I hadn’t done enough.  My heart was broken….bleeding…open to a WHOLE new side of my children at Respire Haiti’s school that are Restaveks…a side of their lives that I was aware of, had been told about but hadn’t been in the middle of….until now.

As I walked around in a kind of trance for the rest of the day, my heart kept bleeding and my mind kept turning.  Lord, how do we fix this?  Lord, why does this happen?  Lord, what is going on?

My brokenness over this continued to consume me…but where there is brokenness, Praise God there is healing….

Our God is Healer.  Our God REDEEMS.  Our God gives us overflowing grace and mercy.

A few days after this incident Dada’s “caregiver” pulled me aside and asked for a job here in Gressier in our school kitchen….my heart halfway stopped…we JUST finished our kitchen the week before at Respire Haiti Christian School…Soeur Jacques had JUST told me that she needed some more people to help her cook the 2,000+ meals per week she was cooking.  As this lady looked up at me and asked me this question…everything…EVERYTHING in me wanted to shake my fist at her and tell her she doesn’t DESERVE this job…she doesn’t DESERVE to even ASK me for anything….EVERYTHING wanted to yell that at her…EVERYTHING except Christ’s voice calming me saying….Do YOU “Deserve” Everything I Give YOU?  Grace.  Forgiveness.  Mercy.  Love.  MORE GRACE.

I looked into her eyes…I paused for a moment and looked down…as I closed my eyes I GAVE up…I gave up the idea of trying to PUNISH her for letting DADA be beat….the Lord calmed me as I looked back at her and said…I will check on things.

As I walked away from her…the hardened layers around my heart toward her began to peel away….I thought of her life….I thought of her past….I thought of her story and journey….and then I thought about REDEMPTION.  I thought about how she WAS excited when I put Dada in school last October….about how I had seen glimmers of care and concern in her for Dada…..

I thought about Soeur Jacques our head cook….about her AMAZING LOVE for this community, for cooking…I thought about how she prays over the pots and the food before she begins cooking…I thought about her heart for the Lord….and my heart softened as I realized what God was doing.

I called Soeur Jacques to explain what had happened and she gladly accepted a new person to help and disciple.

Change.  Changing a community like this is HARD.  Through education, through relationship, through discipleship.  It’s HARD.  IF it were up to ME…I would run around pulling sticks out of people’s hands and yelling like a mad woman… sometimes I want to take all of our Restaveks out of their homes and SAVE them…but it’s not up to me.  CHRIST has different plans…Plans of ENDING child slavery in Gressier and in Haiti through educating people, through teaching, discipling….Oh, the PRECIOUS way of JESUS is SO much better than mine. 

Please pray with me for strength, for courage…Pray for Gressier…for the people here and the FREEDOM that we desire for these Restaveks.

There is no way I can even begin to put into words what God has done in my life in 2011…but I will try with few words, and many pictures 🙂

After starting Respire Haiti in November 2010 and meeting Michaelle in December of 2010, God guided my path to Bellevue Mountain in Gressier.  Moving to Gressier, Haiti on January 9, 2011 I had no idea what I would be doing…

The only tree on Bellevue Mountain

Over the past 8 months, Respire Haiti has purchased over 3 acres of land to build a school, library, pavilion, medical clinic and more…

Our recently acquired land, the top of Bellevue Mountain.

Respire Haiti Christian School started in a one room church in January 2011 with 97 children…with no uniforms, books, school supplies or even desks…

Students in March 2011

Ricardo using a chair as a desk, March 2011.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Now we have over 350 students…with uniforms, books, school supplies, breakfast every morning and more!  For the first half of the year we continued to meet in the one room church, outside of the church and in another nearby location.  Respire Haiti Christian School will start 1st-6th grade in a new building on Wednesday January 4th, 2012!

Students in October 2011

We have seen children transformed by the opportunity to go to school…

Vanessa when I first met her in March of 2011

Vanessa now enrolled in Kindergarten at our school.

Taken out of situations of Restavek and other working environments…

Florencia during a school day last spring before she was enrolled in Respire Haiti Christian School.

And put into environments of learning…

2nd year Kindergarten painting with Water Color

 

 

 

We have seen how quickly things can happen in Haiti when it is GOD’s Plan…

August 2011

September 2011

October 2011

November 2011

December 2011

 

Hallway of first finished 6 classroom building, opening on Wednesday January 4, 2012 for 1st-6th grade.

 

Our first Community Activity was in January of 2011 with just over 70 children…

Now we have two community activities (feeding programs) every Saturday which feeds more than 700 children…

La Colline Feeding

 

We’ve also seen God’s hand move in amazing ways, through the closer of Son of God orphanage after 11 months of fighting for the freedom of these trafficked, abused and neglected orphans…

Son of God Orphanage

And though the fight for justice is not yet over for these children from Son of God Orphanage, the majority of them have been taken out of a situation where they were being abused, starved and neglected.  Praying that God continues to do BIG things in 2012 for these children and the justice they deserve.

 

 

 

And lastly, I have gone from not even thinking about being a MOM to being the Mommy to two beautiful girls who have changed my life forever.

Michaelle (8), Megan, and Jessica (4.5)

THANK YOU to everyone who has prayed, donated and believed in the vision that God has given me for Bellevue Mountain and the children of Gressier, Haiti.

A special thank you to our American builder, Kyle Fishburn, without him we might still be meeting outside under a tree 😉 and to Bernard Joseph, our Haitian backbone/superman that helps us get things done fast and right!

Kyle (aka Kyle the Builder, KTB) pointing out his ideas for the ceiling of the school, and probably teaching me some building techniques and construction lingo as well!

Happy New Year to All and please continue to follow our next endeavor of our 4 classroom Kindergarten as well as our two-story Library and Computer Lab!

TRAPPED.

When I first visited Haiti I was so naive about many things…one of them being slaves in Haiti.  A Haitian friend and I were having a discussion about child slaves, and I asked, “How do you know which child is a slave?”  And he answered, “You just know.”  It wasn’t even 3 minutes later as we were driving along in the car that I saw her…she was so tiny she looked like she would break in half…the little girl had a women’s skirt on as a “dress” type of outfit…she was barefoot, dirty and carrying two heavy water jugs in each hand…she paused on the side of the rocky road as her eyes followed the car…My Haitian friend took one glance at her and said, “See her there?  She’s one.”

I felt like I couldn’t breathe.  As we drove by her I felt like her eyes were SCREAMING out for help!  She couldn’t have been more than 7…Can you imagine that?  Working ALL day long, then getting the leftover scraps for dinner, getting beaten and sometimes raped…And only being a CHILD…

There are hundreds of thousands of these child slaves or Restaveks in Haiti…an estimated 300,000 of them, but sadly after living here in Gressier, Haiti for more than 6 months I believe that number is much higher as the line is SO blurred between slavery and “paying your way” in a household.

I’m not sure people realize how incredibly disgusting this is.

Haiti is only a ONE hour and 36 MINUTE flight from Miami.  That means that you are in a country with over 300,000 CHILD SLAVES but in an hour and a half you are back in a country where we don’t even realize what’s going on with our next door neighbor.

As Mother Teresa said, “I want you to be concerned about your next door neighbor. Do you know your next door neighbor?”

THESE CHILDREN ARE OUR NEIGHBORS!  And they need our help.  They need your help!  This isn’t a problem that you can just ignore and it will go away.

But sadly, the problem doesn’t end there.  After the earthquake from May 2010 until December 2010, UNICEF estimates that between 25-100 children were being trafficked across the Haiti/Dominican Republic Border EVERYDAY!  EVERYDAY!!!  

Sure, you and I can point fingers at the Haitian Government and Police Force and say that this is their fault, that it’s sick that THEY let this happen…but the truth is…IT DOESN’T MATTER whose “fault” it is.  What matters is that EVERYDAY children are being trafficked from Haiti to be slaves….sexual slaves…child slaves…and many are trafficked for black market organ donating.  Please tell me this sickens you?  And calls you to action?

Imagine this.  If you don’t already have children, imagine for a minute you do…You’re at the Mall on Christmas…it’s incredibly busy, people everywhere…moving around…you brought your 7 year old little girl with you to help pick out a present.  Everything seems fine, youre having fun shopping but then You turn around and your 7 year old is GONE!  You start to panic, looking around everywhere…you can’t find her anywhere.  She’s vanished!  But here’s the problem…you can’t go to the police…they cannot help…they will try to give you some “advice” maybe, but besides that they just apologize and turn away.

What would you do?  Would you give up?  Move on?  I would hope not.  You would probably tell EVERYONE you know about what happened.  What you experienced.  What you KNOW.  You would write letters, emails, put up flyers…as a mother, father, brother, sister, friend…you would NOT stop until that child was FOUND.  Right?

So just because these 300,000+ children who are in slavery and many more who are being trafficked…just because they aren’t YOUR “Blood Children” does NOT mean they are not children or that it is not YOUR responsibility to help them.  They are Children of the KING…and GOD uses US to take care of them.  THEY NEED YOUR VOICE.  They NEED someone to fight for them as if they belonged to YOU!

Leave your eyes open when you pray.  See these faces of children in slavery.  

Fight for them.  Change the way YOU live YOUR life and see that we are called to be THEIR VOICE.

So, what can you do?

1- Prayer.  Prayer is the most powerful weapon we have.  Pray for change.

2- Awareness.  Talk about it…SHARE this blog!!  Things hidden in the dark are NEVER good. The problem will not just “go away”. People must know and fight for these kids in order for there to be change!!

3- Educate yourself.  Use tools and websites to learn about the Restavek and child slavery crisis in Haiti and around the world.

International Justice Mission:  http://www.ijm.org/

Restavek Freedom Foundation: http://www.restavekfreedom.org/

4- ACT!!

We are ALL called to fight for the fatherless…to be the Voice for the Voiceless.  There are 300,000 Voiceless Slaves in Haiti.  Please be a child’s voice!

Respire Haiti Christian School has 350 children 80% are or were restaveks.  Supporting Respire Haiti and our school means you are helping to fight slavery and change the future for these children!  If you’d like to help us Fight Donate Here!

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