For me the idea of modern day slavery was a concept that I was awakened to and that broke my heart in the fall of 2007 while reading David Batstone’s Book Not For Sale. Batstone’s work led me to Bangkok that summer to do further research on the plight of those suffering this oppression. What I saw broke my heart as I walked the streets of Bangkok. I saw faces with no hope. The sex slave industry in Bangkok robbed these young girls of their lives and stole their hope. As I walked, I prayed… that God will allow me to make a difference in this space.
Fast forward to 2013 and God has answered this prayer. It is a different shade and thousands of miles away from Bangkok, but the slavery is the same. I first learned about the issue of slavery in Haiti known as “Restavek” earlier this summer. The word Restavek comes from the French language, reste avek, “one who stays with”. It refers to a child who is sent by his or her parents to work for a host household as a domestic servant because the parents lack the resources required to support the child. Restavek may refer to any child staying with a host family, but usually refers specifically to those who are abused. Most of what I know about Restavek comes from Wikipedia (the first source of research for any worthy scholar).
Restaveks are not paid for long working hours. They work in horrible conditions that are not good for their health. While at work, many of the children suffer sexual harassment from their owners. Restaveks are slave children who “belong” to well-to-do families. They receive no pay and are kept out of school. Since the emancipation and independence of 1804, affluent blacks and mulattoes have reintroduced slavery by using children of the very poor as house servants. They promise poor families in faraway villages who have too many mouths to feed a better life for their children. Once acquired, these children lose contact with their families and, like slaves of the past, are sometimes given new names for the sake of convenience.
God is propelling the CPR-3 movement into this arena and is aligning us with the right leaders and thinkers to make a difference in Haiti in this particular space. You will be hearing much more about this initiative in the near future as CPR-3 launches its StopDoingWrong Campaign. Until then, will you pray? Will you do some research on the issue of modern day slavery, especially in the country of Haiti? Will your eyes be opened and your heart broken and compelled to do something? To stop doing wrong and stop wrong? Once you have seen, you are responsible. But to close your eyes is equally as wrong.