Tag Archive: Restavek


Put on your own shoes :)

As I left the café mid morning one day and crossed the street, I had about 5 seconds to think to myself…”Well this is unusual…walking up the mountain by myself.” (I normally have one of my four kids with me or other children/people that are headed in the same direction walking with me).

 

Turning the corner to head up the mountain I was stopped in my tracks. I almost had to do a double take to make sure I was seeing what I thought. I glanced over again and saw a tiny child on her hands and knees. The lady hovering over her was dressed beautifully, and completely ignoring the fact that there was even a child beneath her. The child hurriedly put the shoe on the ladies foot. As the older woman yelled something down at her, she took her dress swiftly and wiped off the ladies’ shoes. As if the lady hadn’t even noticed what the child just did, she turned around and hopped on the motorcycle that had been waiting on her without saying one word to the child. The child picked up the set of flip-flops by her side and placed them in a bag. She began walking up the mountain, head down, watching her feet kick up the dust.

 

As I trailed after her for a minute my [righteous] anger began firing up, I could feel my face getting red and tears filling my eyes under my sunglasses. What in the world did I just see? Could that lady NOT have put on her own shoes? Can she not carry her own flip-flops? Did she REALLY just MAKE that little girl kneel down in the dirt in FRONT of Everyone?

 

I wanted to yell out to everyone who “pretended” not to see… “Are you okay with this?”… “Did you NOT see what just happened!?!”

 

After a few minutes of these thoughts, I composed myself and then called out to her. She didn’t stop. I gently called again…her pace slowed as she worriedly looked behind her. I reached out to grab her hand. Her sweet eyes opened wide. I introduced myself and I asked for her name…nearly inaudibly she spoke. I asked her again and her voice lowered even more, her eyes sticking to the ground. I asked her how old she was and she stumbled over her words making it obvious that she was not aware of her age. As I asked her where she lived she pointed to the top of the mountain.

 

I walked with her for a few minutes holding her hand.

 

Her demeanor began to relax and she answered my questions a little more comfortably. As I asked about her family, she then explained that she had been in the area for a few months. Both of her parents live in a city about 8 hours from Gressier. She was taken from them in January and yet wasn’t put in school anywhere here.

 

The mix of anger and sadness at this injustice boiled in me. I squeezed her hand and explained where our school was…her eyes widened again as she responded that she knew exactly where we were located. I asked her if she could come meet me later in the afternoon so we could talk more. Her face, giddy with excitement, lit up and she nodded yes.

 

As 1:00pm rolled around I anxiously waited for her to no avail. Finally, as I went on with my afternoon somewhat defeated, I nearly jumped out of my shoes when I walked out of the gate at 3:30pm and saw her. I knew that she would be perfect for our Jump Start program. (It is a class in the afternoon that specifically caters to children who are a little bit older but are on a 1-3rd grade level. The classes are smaller so that the children can get more individual attention.) Even though the year is almost over, I wanted to make sure we could keep track of this young girl and try and figure out more about her parents and her situation.

 

The day after we enrolled her, I passed by the classroom and my heart sunk. I didn’t see her. I was heartbroken and walked in the room to begin to ask the teacher. Then suddenly someone pointed and said, “There she is!” I couldn’t believe it. Even though the class only had 14 children, I didn’t even recognize her. Her smile was huge…she looked like a new little girl in her uniform, glowing confidently sitting amongst the other students.

 

The injustice of restavek children never gets easier. The way that some individuals can so easily disregard, disrespect and abuse children absolutely breaks my heart. And I know it breaks God’s heart.

 

HE has and always will orchestrate the children that should be (and are) in our school. I never walk up the mountain at that time. I never would have seen this interaction and this sweet child if HE hadn’t orchestrated it all.

 

The injustice may never get easier, BUT GOD is directing everything that is happening on Bellevue Mountain and I am just blessed to be a part of it all.

My stomach is still churning as I just put down my phone.  As I am nearing 3.5 years of living in Haiti, there are some things that will never get easier…never be less raw and heartbreaking….

~

As I answered the phone, I heard a familiar voice on the other line start asking questions about registering for school.  As he began talking I realized that he was calling on someone else’s behalf.  I began by asking my first question I always start with, “Has the child ever been to school?” ….Yes, I heard the other side of the phone peep out hesitantly.  Then I asked what grade the child was and how old…as he struggled to ask the questions, he explained that he was actually not sure if the child had been to school ever and was in fact calling because someone else asked him  to see if there was space in our school.

He began explaining the situation and my heart skipped a beat as I heard him say, “Well he is borrowing this child.”

Borrowing this child?  I so badly wanted to go on a rant about how awful what he said just was, but then again I remembered he was calling for someone else, and regardless I still needed the information about the child.

My heartbeat sped up as I mulled this over in my head.  Call it whatever you want, keeping a child for a while…being “given” a child…borrowing a child.

Whatever you call it, It’s still slavery.

Whatever you call it, It’s still servitude.

Whatever you call it, this sweet girl is still a restavek.

As I pushed down all of my righteous anger and frustration.  I answered back as composed as I could, Yes we have space.

I asked him to send me the child’s name, age and where she lives. He agreed to do so quickly.

I hung up the phone and slunk to the ground.

This never get’s easier. Fighting for children, ALL children…borrowed or not….to go to school is exhausting.  Fighting for Haitians to realize that a child NOT going to school and fetching water all day, doing laundry, dishes, cooking, cleaning…is child Slavery, Domestic Servitude.

But Praise GOD that He has given us all of the courage, strength and persistence we need for this.  Praise GOD that He began Respire Haiti Christian School and that because of His vision for Gressier and Bellevue Mountain that HUNDREDS of children like this are being educated but most importantly learning that they are WORTH being fed, loved and cared for.

Please keep praying for us as we continue organizing things for the upcoming school year.

“The enemy’s purpose on earth is to kill, steal and destroy. And often times it feels like he is succeeding, like we are fighting a losing battle. But then I remember, the war has already been won…”

Read the rest of this blog on SheLovesMagazine.  Blessed to have the opportunity to share what God is teaching me in Haiti and through   Will Reagan’s awesome song Take Back.

 

Meet Respire Haiti

The video below is a GREAT insight into the Respire Haiti team and it shows you the incredible things God is doing here in Gressier!

We are SO blessed to be a part of HIS plan for this community.

<p><a href=”http://vimeo.com/62695548″>Meet Respire Haiti</a> from <a href=”http://vimeo.com/user17311688″>Respire Haiti</a> on <a href=”http://vimeo.com”>Vimeo</a&gt;.</p>

 

“For FROM Him and THROUGH Him and TO Him are ALL things.  To HIM be glory forever.  Amen.”  Romans 11:36

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