Johanne is 15 years old and has been in our program for the past three years.
She completed second grade at her school this past school year.
Johanne had been a restavek since she was 9 years old. She lost her left hand in the earthquake of 2010 which made her daily life significantly more challenging. In addition to adjusting to life with only one hand her host aunt still required her to complete all of the usual household chores. This meant that Johanne had to learn how to complete jobs, like carrying a 5 gallon bucket full of water up and down the hillside, in a new way.
When I first met Johanne she was mistreated and not allowed to attend school. I discussed the importance of a good education with her host aunt and encouraged her to send Johanne to school. With the promise of the foundations help her host aunt finally agreed. However, Johanne was often late to class since she was still responsible for completing all of the housework before leaving for school.
Last year, Johanne came to me and asked if I could help move her from her host aunts home. She said she could not bear the mistreatment any longer. I was deeply saddened by her situation and was determined to find a way to help her.
While I was developing a plan for her, Johanne called to say that her host aunt had chased her from the house and she was going to find her family. The school year was about to begin and I wanted to make sure she was in a safe place and able to continue her education; so I met with her father in Port-au-Prince. We discussed the importance of keeping his children at home with his family and I encouraged him to keep Johanne enrolled in school. We decided that the foundation would continue to support her education as long as she brought her report card to me every quarter so I could make sure she is progressing and attending her classes.
Last week I was able to visit Johanne. I was so happy and surprised to see how much she had changed and grown, it was unbelievable! Not only has she excelled physically since living back at home with her family she has also done exceptionally well in school. The school director has even decided that Johanne should skip a grade!
This story gives me so much joy because I was able to end the life of slavery Johanne was forced to endure. I was also given the opportunity to speak with her father about all of the hardships a restavek child goes through and I was able to encourage him to keep his daughter at home with him.
It’s my wish that all the children who live in restavek will be free in the very near future.
Francoise Leon, Child Advocate / Office Manager