February 11, 2010
Posted: 05:45 PM ET
By David Diggs, Co-founder and Director of Beyond Borders
On January 12th the world’s attention turned to the devastation in Haiti. However, Haiti has witnessed a long history of devastation through negligence and exploitation. Since the birth of the nation, Haitians suffered brutal economic trade policies and were ostracized by the world community. The policies resulted in the destruction of rural economies forcing Haitians to leave their rural lives for urban centers in hope for a better life. Cities like the capital, Port-au-Prince became overcrowded and slum communities grew. In these communities, children have often been the first to suffer.
With two-thirds of Haiti not formally employed, parents could not afford to feed, house and clothe their children. As a result, before the quake, an estimated 300,000 children lived apart from their parents in unpaid, domestic servitude. These children, known as a restavèks (a derogatory Creole word meaning "to stay-with") are sent away by their parents with the hope that they will be provided access to food, education and a better future. However this is rarely the case. The United Nations considers restavèk children as a modern form of slavery.
For the past five years Beyond Borders has promoted an integrated strategy to bring an end to child servitude. Beyond Borders realizes that the earthquake increases the vulnerability of these restavèk children. Furthermore, other displaced children are susceptible to internal trafficking and abuse. As a result, after the earthquake, a registration process for unaccompanied children began through the coordination of relief agencies. Due to the complexity and need for contextualizing the registration process, Beyond Borders has been helping to register and collaborate with various organizations to ensure the safety of these children.
Additionally, Beyond Borders is working with rural communities to develop models that can be scaled up and replicated across Haiti to improve the welfare of children and reduce the risk that they will be sent into servitude.
To donate or for more information on the work of Beyond Borders please click here.
Filed under: Haiti Earthquake
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