“I will never forget that day during my visit in his school, Jean has made a paper flower to bring for me just before I leave after interviewing some kids, and he seemed so sweet!” - Nadine
Jean comes from the south-east of Haiti. Bandits set fire to Jean’s house which sent his family into extreme debt. Jean was an eye witness of the fire and his parents felt obligated to send him to Port-au-Prince with his godmother. However, Jean’s aunt decided that she would like him to live with her instead. This is how Jean came to Port-au-Prince and to benefit from the Restavek Freedom program.
Usually Jean is a quiet and reserved person, but one day he got into a conflict with is aunt and he ran away to the street. His school director informed us about his situation and about 4 days later, (BPM) (Brigade de Protection des Mineurs) found him. They called his aunt to let her know that his father was on his way to come to Port-au-Prince. Djougine (another Child Advocate) and I accompanied the family to BPM to see Jean.
Once we arrived at BPM Jean’s father told the police officer that he did not recognize us. He has a dissociative identity crisis (split personality disorder). We felt so sad, because the police officers required proof to allow Jean to leave with us. It was recommended that Jean’s father go to the general hospital, mainly to the psychiatric center, for an evaluation. Since his father could not provide proof to BPM, Jean’s aunt came to the office and Jean was released to his aunt.
As we were all driving home Jean’s aunt began complaining about keeping him, even though he is her help around the house. I could see that Jean was very sad to go back to his aunt’s.
I kept encouraging his father to keep Jean with him but he explained that he was afraid he wouldn’t be able to take care of his family. Some time passed, and after Jean took his 3rd quarter exam his father called me to say he had decided to take Jean home. I was so happy to hear that! I was so excited that he finally found the courage to decide to do what’s best for his son.
Now Jean is with his family. When he is talking on the phone with me his voice reveals joy and happiness. He seems to be hopeful and at peace where he is.
Nadine Augustin Paul, Child Advocate