Carnival has been over for a few weeks, but I can’t help but still think about it.
Carnival is a big event for us in Haiti. It’s a cultural, social and economic event. In our tradition, it’s a popular party where adults and children can walk along the streets, day and night. The musical groups start preparing for this event the second week of January and work until Ash Wednesday.
Every Sunday there are activities Downtown, Petion- Ville, Delmas and many other areas preparing for the big event. Many people go to listen to music, dance, learn the songs of groups, as well as to meet friends.
Carnival lasts 3 days, Sunday, Monday and Tuesday, plus a celebration on the Friday before in Haitian schools. The children wear special beautiful clothes, masks and play music. For those 3 days, there is a big popular manifestation on the street. It starts at 4PM and finishes the next morning at 3 or 4AM; this happens each night. There are many activities, choreography, and Char Allegoriques (parade floats) to show and teach people the story of our Country. It’s an opportunity for us to show tourists all beautiful things we have in our Country.
The one thing that makes me sad about this party is many parents buy beautiful clothes, masks and costumes for their children to go to Carnival, but restavek children stay at home to work. Our children have the same problem at Christmas; the parents offer presents and good things to their children but children living in restavek receive only mistreatment.
For this reason we should continue to work harder in order to put an end to the restavek system that’s ravaging our society.
Francoise Leon, Child Advocate