Omaj pou Ayiti

On Child Slavery In Haiti

Restavek is not a common word for most Americans. In Haitian Creole, the word is translated loosely as “to live with.” I have been to Haiti 12 times over the last 10 years and through my knowledge, contacts and involvements with various organizations working there, I know the word well.

In Haiti, child slavery has been a cultural normality for many generations. A sign of affluence, having a helper for the family or even a personal “helper” for each of a family’s child is not uncommon.

In my many trips to the North Coast of Haiti, I have never really noticed the problem, thinking that it was mostly a problem of the larger cities, where the social elite tend to live. That was until I came face to face with one little girl who I believe was truly a Restevek.

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