Haiti - Social : Father Miguel the hope for the children "restavek"... - HaitiLibre.com : Haiti news 7/7

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Haiti - Social : Father Miguel the hope for the children "restavek"...
04/01/2011 14:10:04

Haiti - Social : Father Miguel the hope for the children
At the Foyer Maurice Sixto, which cares for over 300 children through the territory of Haiti, it's been over twenty years since we made this issue a real hoppyhorse. For over twenty years, Father Miguel, who founded the center, supervises, educates and helps these "children without childhood" to grow. Relentlessly, the religious advocates for the cause of the "poorest of the poor", malnourished, mistreated, often housed in appalling conditions.

On the hills of Petite Rivière, near Carrefour, Port-au-Prince, it's the effervescence. Between laughter and cries of impatience, dozens of costumed children scramble and take their turn, accessories and musical instruments under arms, while so many others flock to witness the "spectacle" prepared by their comrades. It's party time at Foyer Maurice Sixto, and not any. On this sunny morning, we celebrate the passage of course to a new year we hope less harsh and traumatic than the last, but not only. Today is mostly the feast of the children. And especially the poorest and most disadvantaged among them, these "Restavek" (Creole "stay with") whose life of hard work, abuse and violence stigmatizes a silent drama that crosses Haiti for decades. These children, often from the provinces and placed as servants in foster care, would be more than 300,000 across the country.

"The Restavek rise before everyone and the evening, they are the last to go to bed, often on the floor, " he says, before talking about physical abuse, physical abuse or insults that make the lives of these young people. Early Carine Mésidor knows very well. Originally from Jérémie her mother, has placed her girl, 6 years ago in the family of a "cousin" of Port-au-Prince, never encountered before. Like many parents of these remote places her mother could not afford to raise them or send them to school, so she decided dispose of her. For her own good, hoping that her new family could schooling, in exchange of housework.

A story common to many "Restavek", whose fate is often tied to the issue of remoteness of the provinces and the rural crisis in Haiti. "We must help the peasants to build, develop the hinterland! Currently, 80% of the territory is completely marginalized! As nothing will be done to develop the areas, people will continue to swell the slums of Port-au-Prince and the children will always be placed in foster families. It's a real social issue that we can no longer ignore. The Haitian people must be aware! "insists Father Miguel. Since Carine left Jérémie, her days are long and her nights, very short. "The children of my cousin going to school and during this time I work at home" she say, hardly daring to mention the whip and other harassment that she is the object "when she did not do well [...] But at least they accept to talk to me, not like the children of friends of my cousin, who are forbidden to approach me" she added... her eyes looking at her shoes.

For a little more than a year, the life of Carine has however changed. Her host family authorized her to go all afternoon in the Foyer Maurice Sixto where she is educated, while having access to a range of musical activities, sports or cultural activities which were previously prohibited. What Carine prefer ? "The dance", she admits. Very diligently, she tries never to miss a class, and particularly since the January 12, 2010. "I go there more often than before", blows the girl, whose the foster home was destroyed.

However, the situation is not simple at the Foyer since the earthquake. On the two houses available at the center, one of them is totally collapsed. Not to mention the dead and missing, too many. But for the Father Miguel, no question of being outflanked by events. "The kids need us most. All were very affected and traumatized by the earthquake. Despite the difficulties, it was necessary to restart as soon as possible, to give them a framework within which they can express themselves, to evacuate their stress through creative and artistic activities. It is a program that we designed for the children of the center, but also for all other young of Petite Rivière. To ensure that all children can continue to be children. " And the results are amazing. "Here, young people are much better, although it is unfortunately not the case elsewhere. They are lively, active, full of life!". To watch the youngs running across the improvised stage, busy with preparations for the feast, we readily believe. A particularly encouraging result for the churchman, whose message addressed to the children at the beginning of this year is simple: "We want to render comprehensible to them that we will not drop them, that we will always accompany them, that they can also have a future. In Haiti, we live in a reality disconcerting, discouraging by many ways, but at our own level, we can accomplish great things!" Today, it is imperative to continue. And for that we must rebuild. With support from Catholic Relief Services and its partner, Development and Peace, Father Miguel is already planning the rehabilitation of the center, the construction of six classrooms and a building dedicated to the education of children "restavek". For 2011, Carine has two great wishes. Continue to dance, and that the next party either as beautiful as this one.

HL/ HaitiLibre / S/ Mathilde Magnier/ Secours Catholique (SC)

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