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News from our Missionaries

 Restavek.  Rester: to stay.  Avek:  with.  Literally translates to child slave or domestic servant.  Usually between the ages of 4 to 15.  Does all the household chores, cooking, cleaning, washing, fetching water.  Often abused and most likely does NOT go to school.*

Tim does most of the driving as we travel about Port-au-Prince which allows me to capture daily life in this Caribbean nation with my IPhone camera.  People work hard and with limited resources as they try to make a living and our cameras are filled with images of their efforts as they sell products in the market place; find innovative ways to move household goods on motos (small motorbikes); make meals to sell over small, handmade metal cookers called “recho”; work on construction sites and on and on…

At the same time, a good number of our photographs are of children:  jumping rope at CONASPEH and kicking whatever makeshift item they can use for a soccer ball; walking to school in an array of colorful uniforms; and sending small hand waves and slight smiles as they look at us with curiosity.  Perhaps our favorite pictures are those of older siblings holding the hands of little brothers and sisters as they travel to school on foot and of daddies carrying on their shoulders little ones wearing Dora the Explorer or Teenage Ninja Mutant Turtles backpacks. 

Haitian families want their children to have opportunities but those who live in rural communities especially struggle as they try to farm a land that has been deforested and where good soil for planting is hard to come by.  With many mouths to feed and little means to do so, people will send their children to live with others in the hope that their children will have a better life in the city.

It may be that those “host” families intend to care for the child by feeding, clothing and sending them to school in exchange for some help around the house but each situation is unique.   For that reason, in many circumstances the “outsider” child is forced to labor for their adopted family from sunup until late at night when everyone else has gone to bed.  The tasks of collecting water, cooking, cleaning, and doing laundry consumes all of the child’s time and the idea of school becomes a thing of the past.  In many cases, the child is given only scraps to eat and forced to wear clothes that are worn out or do not fit.  The greatest harm, however, is the physical and emotional abuse.

The House of Hope is a Global Ministries partner that seeks to raise awareness about restavek children and they are keen to educate people who are concerned about this problem.  It is a program that imbues dignity and hope in children as Christian leaders teach them reading, writing, life skills and basic human rights.

Children who come to the program take part in an intensive educational program that condenses six years of study into three.  There is also a course of study that offers the young people an opportunity for income-generation training:  a culinary and hospitality curriculum, a beauty school, sewing and computer courses, cultural dance and choirs, and training in electrical work, plumbing, masonry and carpentry.

Leaders with the House of Hope also work to reunite the children with their families of origin while the children continue to attend school.  It is a challenging and lengthy process but one well worth the effort in most cases.

In addition to the children’s educational program, the House of Hope offers a special project for women who have been abandoned by their families and who have no means of supporting themselves.  The women are able to live in decent shelter and to have enough money for groceries and other essentials through an Elder Sponsorship endeavor that is spearheaded through the United Church of Christ and Global Ministries.

We pray this sharing and the attached photos will help you to realize what your support is able to accomplish.  Tim and I believe there are not too many things more important than helping to change a child’s life and building within them a sense of value, worth and faith.

We invite you to pray with us:

  • for the people of Haiti as they seek to elect solid and wise leadership for their nation;
  • for our partner CONASPEH whose vision for a strong and vital Haiti is through education;
  • for Global Ministries’ partner, the House of Hope, and their leaders who are helping children and women to know true freedom;
  • and for safekeeping as Tim and I travel about; and for good health as a new mosquito-borne epidemic called “Zika” is rearing its ugly head in the Caribbean.

We pray all of you are well and that Ohio’s cold weather is not long-lived (and according to Punxsutawney Phil!)  We enjoyed reading about your “Teeter Totter Marathon” weekend which sounds like it is right up Tim’s alley.  We look forward to receiving your Good News newsletter, too, and learning about the Ngemba house renovation project.  You all are busy!

Warm Blessings from Sunny Haiti,

Tim and Diane

Global Ministries Missionaries

Port-au-Prince, Haiti

 *Respire Haiti:  Restavek Awareness and Education