Monday, February 25, 2013

Human Trafficking and Restavek

My last post was over a month ago, when God really beat me down and began to show me the things He wanted me to look at in school. The pastor at Grace Church, where I attend, said this during the "Wasted?" series I wrote about before (paraphrased), "If you pray for something and God gives it to you, to do anything else is a sin." I prayed for God to show me what to do, where to be, and that I would be a willing follower. He showed up. A heart for Haiti, a passion for children, resources in the university, and a fully-funded degree....these things are only the work of a God who is in control and knows what He wants. To study anything other than human trafficking in Haiti would be a sin. God has been saying, "Cory, I put you here in Kent for this reason. Not to look at natural gas issues or community design, but because I have a larger kingdom purpose."

So here I go. I have been knee-deep in the trafficking research, formulating my questions for my dissertation proposal, and making the contacts I need to make. This is research that will put me in Haiti multiple times over the next couple of years (which I hope my new bride as of 2/16/13 will be able to accompany me on). It'll put me in uncomfortable situations in dangerous places, meeting people, gathering stories, participating, and praying. God has a bigger purpose then this.

As I sit and gather the facts, there are a few facts that are astonishing to me and I want to just share these briefly, as well as a few resources for you to look at:

  • Of the 100,000 trafficking victims in the United States, we have only 100 beds in recovery homes. That is only enough beds to aid in the recovery of .1% of trafficked victims
  • Today, there is an estimated 250 million modern slaves worldwide. The majority are in the domestic labor industry
  • There are more slaves today than at any point in history, even looking at the Atlantic Slave Trade from Africa in the 18th and 19th centuries.
  • Restaveks (French for "To Stay With") are child laborers in Haiti who live with a host family as their personal servant.
    • It is estimated that 30% of Haitian households have a restavek child. This is 225,000 children in a country of 8 million people. 
    • 2/3 of these restaveks are girls under the age of 18
  • Through acts of violence and unkept promises, these children are forced to remain in the restavek system. They are social outcasts, viewed as societal "Others," and dehumanized.
  • Parents willingly sell their children into restavek for the promise of a better life for them in the city, but more often than not they just need one less mouth to feed in a country that has the average worker making less than $1 USD per day. 
There is hope, though, and this is the aim of my research. My specific questions look at:
  1. How are United States-based non-governmental organizations addressing the issue of restavek?
  2. How effective are their efforts to rehabilitate/reintegrate these children into Haitian society and in the eradication of modern slavery in Haiti?
Here are some resources I highly suggest you look at for more information on these modern day forms of slavery:
Keep this research, these organizations, and these modern day slaves in your prayers. Please, do not hesitate to contact me with thoughts, questions, stories, or anything else. 

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