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17396: Henri: Re: 17394: (Chamberlain) Restaveks (fwd)

From: C. Henri <carolineislands@hotmail.com>

I have often thought what a complicated problem this is in Haiti due to the
fact that so many children live with people other than their immediate family
of origin.  It is so common for children to go live with an aunt or a friend in
order to go to school in a certain area, or to work... any number of reasons.
Unlike here in the States, where we all pretty much grow up with our parents,
or at least one of them, in Haiti its nothing for a child to stay here and
there with aunts and uncles and grandparents while the mother and/or father is
working, or just because the other person might need help.  Where it gets
really convoluted is when you think of the differences in parenting and
discipline.  In Haiti, people spank their kids.  And they talk to them a lot
harsher than we do here in the U.S..  They do a lot of things that would be
considered child abuse in North American culture.  So, where do you draw the
line?  A young girl goes to live with her aunt while her father is working in
the DR and she gets in trouble with the aunt.  The aunt gets out a belt and
throttles the girl's behind.  On the other hand, another girl goes to live with
an aunt because he parents can't afford school or perhaps there is no good
school where she is from.  She gets in trouble and the aunt takes out an iqwaz
and whips her till she has little read whelps on her legs and buttocks.  This
is sooo common and the lines are so fine -- who is going to draw them?  And
when drawn -- what are you going to do about it?  Do we take both girls from
those homes?  And if so, where do you send them?  Aren't there still children
spending the night in jail just to get in off the streets at night?  Not only
is this situation hard to find and identify, I can't imagine what could be done
with these poor kids once you did get them out.  Put them in an orphanage?
Where?  Which one?

When I was doing some business in Port-au-Prince a couple of years ago the U.S.
Immigration Officer I had met with wanted to know WHY I wanted to live in
Haiti.  I explained that my husband and I were building an orphanage in the
Artibonite.  He just shook his head and said, "aNOTHER one?" like there were
more orphanages than the country could handle already.  What did that mean?
There are kids everywhere in Haiti, in every condition, misery, homelessness,
and yes -- slavery.  But how are you going to find them and when you do, what
are you going to do with them?

I'll be looking for replies because I would really like to know.



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