Today, June 12th, 2017, is the World Day Against Child Labor. This day was started by the International Labor Organization (ILO) in 2002 to raise awareness about child labor with the end goal its elimination worldwide. The ILO defines child labor as work that is dangerous or harmful to children, and work that deprives or interferes with a child’s schooling opportunities. In its most extreme forms, child labor involves child slavery, child prostitution and pornography, and the use of children in illicit activities, such as drug trafficking. According to the ILO, 58.6% of child labor involves agricultural economic activities.
In Haiti, children, primarily young girls, are sent by their parents to live with other families and provide services in exchange for food and schooling. The term used to refer to these children is“restavèk,” a Haitian Creole word meaning “to stay with.” There are an estimated 250,000-400,000 restavèk children in Haiti. Because of the domestic nature of services, it is hard for governing agencies to determine if many children are being used as restavèk labor, or are children with domestic responsibilities within their families.
There have been several laws and decrees issued by the Haitian government to set boundaries for child domestic labor, but most of these are unknown to the general public, and restavèk labor continues to be a widespread practice in all social classes across Haiti. Even with laws in place, law enforcement struggles to implement many governmental policies.
At LiveBeyond, the Kè Pou Timoun program provides an alternative for parents faced with the decision to send their children off as “restavèk” child laborers. Kè Pou Timoun means “Heart for Children” in Haitian Creole. The goal of this program is to improve all areas of the children’s lives. Monday through Friday, the children come to the LiveBeyond base for two nutritious meals, literacy lessons in Creole and English, Bible lessons, tutoring, leadership training, and regular basic health check-ups. There are approximately 105 children enrolled in the program with constant plans for expansion.
For $40 a month, a donor can sponsor one child’s attendance in the Kè Pou Timoun program and ensure their future, not as a restavèk, but as a beloved child of the true King, Jesus Christ.
ILO. (n.d.). Retrieved June 12, 2017, from http://www.ilo.org/ipec/lang–en/index.htm.
Child domestic labour in Haiti. (n.d.). Retrieved June 12, 2017, from http://womenalliance.org/child-domestic-labour-in-haiti.
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