In June 2013 Restavek Freedom held Justice Trainings for pastors and community leaders. Below is a report from Gardy St. Paulin our Coordinator of Church Mobilization about the impact this training is making across the country of Haiti.
From what I have noticed personally, many people are discussing the restavek issue; Pastors, Community Leaders, Sunday school teachers, radio hosts etc. More than 500 people so far are being trained to train others and speak about the restavek phenomenon. Awareness on the issue of restavek is also being raised which is wonderful. I think this is a big step toward ending the practice of restavek in Haiti.
I saw many of the participants enjoying the training and becoming motivated to do something to end the system. They were attentive to what was being said and felt like it was something that should have taken place long time ago. They commented about the impact they believe this activity will have in the towns and communities. They even asked for more participant books to be available for people!
The Coordinator in Low Artibonite (St Marc) is so absorbed by this justice program that he began a show on Social Justice on some of the most listened to radio programs in the city. I can see the movement moving forward all around the country, especially in the rural zones. It is very encouraging to know that we have people who will continue to mobilize within areas we cannot reach by ourselves.
All of this momentum helps us feel like we are not working in vain and that our labor is surely bringing fruit and sustainable results. There have been two events that have stood out in my mind since we began the training.
The first was when I was listening to a radio station in Haiti. I was so happy when I heard the pastor mention the plight of the restavek children. He said that Christians need to take this issue to heart and make a change. The pastor said that we need to love children living in restavek, send them to school, make them feel at home and be a part of a family that cares for them, go to church with them…“when we do it like that, God will be happy and proud of us” he said.
The second was when one of our participants shared with me his thoughts on the training: “this movement is so important that I would suggest you have a plan to train trainers who will train more trainers who will train others to do the work within the communities. For, this message of justice for the restavek needs to be spread all around the country.” I can see how deeply he has caught our vision.
We are currently preparing more training sessions and by the end of 2013 we will have brought the training to all departments of Haiti. Our plan is to have more than 100,000 people who have been touched by this curriculum.
Gardy St. Paulin, Coordinator of Church Mobilization