From NFSC Co-Founder: Kique Bazan

Dear Friends:

What happened in Haiti, the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, is nothing short of devastating. It is especially heart-wrenching for those who have seen the poverty and know the needs of the people firsthand.

Before the earthquake, Haiti was already the greatest hotbed of modern-day slavery in the region, containing an estimated 225,000 child slaves. These “restaveks” become domestic servants when their families, desperate to survive, sell them to other households. In 2008 I went to Haiti for my doctoral research and was horrified to see street children, mostly boys and some as young as six, being sold for sex at $1.75.

Since the earthquake, the news reports have revealed a reality that has turned from grim to desperate for the children of Haiti. Children are either separated from their families or orphaned, and traffickers are taking advantage of the situation. Save the Children says that one million unaccompanied children are vulnerable for trafficking in Haiti right now.

During my visit to Haiti I saw different strategies of work. I met people and organizations that are passionate about rediscovering people’s dignity, but I also experienced organizations that defined people by their victimhood. On one hand, it is important to see people’s tragedies in order to gain awareness and prevent the conditions that threaten their wellbeing. On the other, finding those stories that narrate the fulfillment of an individual’s own dreams, in the midst of tragedies, is greatly needed.

At 18-years-old, Fenol is a former “restavek” who escaped enslavement and is transforming his life. He was able to finish high school, get a job, and is preparing for college. As a result, he gained the respect of his peers and is a motivator for other restaveks to pursue their dreams. Fenol helps lead an organization composed of former slaves. These young people were deprived of the most basic human necessities, were neglected and abandoned, faced brutal violence, sexual exploitation, drug addiction, and human rights’ violations – yet they have found among each other the strength and support to improve their lives and the lives of the people around them. They created a system for long-term support and education to broaden their ability to actively participate in their own lives and future.

In the midst of the ruins, we find people like Fenol who are changing the face of Haiti by creating systems that offer concrete, positive results. While earthquakes are the products of nature, the lack of infrastructure and the enslavement of people are not. Therefore, in order to stop the proliferation of trafficking and ongoing vulnerability of children, the Not For Sale Campaign is connecting with individuals and organizations engaged on the ground in vital relief efforts.

One of the most pressing needs to address trafficking is the presence of trained volunteers who can accurately document and register vulnerable children. We are close to forging a partnership where NFSC will train volunteers in our Academy in effective mapping and documentation. Our goal is to equip at least a handful of volunteers for placements ranging from two weeks to a year in Haiti to assist with prevention efforts and to deploy their skills, resources and network to enable people’s dreams of freedom.

If you are interested in receiving training to work with Not For Sale’s efforts in Haiti, please contact us directly at: theacademy@notforsalecampaign.org

Thank you for your ongoing support as we address modern-day slavery amidst this disaster. We will continue to keep you informed as we work to develop innovative solutions to fight trafficking in Haiti.

Sincerely,

Kique Bazan
Co-founder & International Director
Not For Sale Campaign

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