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17402: Noss: Re: 17394: (Chamberlain) Restaveks (fwd)

From: Haldor Noss <hbnoss@worldnet.att.net>

Respe, One, Greetings to all,
	I was happy to see an article about Restavec children but very sorry to
see that the writer and editor did not choose to do more with their
publication.  The Restavec phenomenon is much too complicated to "write up"
and "wrap up" in one article of 1000 words or less.  Please bear with me as
I respond to what was written and add some of my own experience.
	First:  Today's Restavec phenomenon is almost entirely a result of extreme
severe poverty--parents struggle to keep and care for their own children
but sometimes cannot earn enough themselves to care for their own.  Should
they keep their children at home and watch them starve, or should they send
their children off, hoping and praying, that their child might at least
find enough to eat somewhere else?
	Second with regards to the article written:  Comparing the restavec
phenomenon to the National slave rebellion 200 years ago makes no sense at
all and only serves to perpetuate the completely unfounded foreign
perspective that Haitians alone invented, and therefore Haitians alone are
responsible for, Haiti's woes.  Is the author suggesting that the
historical slave rebellion of 200 years ago is not finished until 4 year
old children rise up with weapons against the adults who run their world?
	Origins of Restavec:  the Restavec system was not invented by Haitians in
the 1920's and '30's-- it began with a custom used the world over by
societies that do not have a government run social security system or
commercial for-profit nursing care for the elderly (talk about inhumane
treatment of our grandparents!).  No, the Restavec system originates in
societies in which the children care for their parents when the parents
become old (and grandparents spend their last days with and cared for by
family instead of being hooked up to machines by insurance and medicare
paid unknown nurses).  In such societies the well being of the family
including parents and grandparents often does rely on the number of
children and grandchildren in the family, and on the successful lives of
those children.  When investing the family's future in the success of the
children, parents very often try to place their children into different
career opportunities--one as a farmer, one a mechanic, one a teacher,
etc... (in the same manner that "western" families try to get their kids
into positions as doctors, lawyers, or professional sports).  In the
absence of severe economic poverty, as defined by having enough food to
adequately feed children, the parents in these less commercial and more
social societies will often choose to send one child off to be raised by a
relative who can teach them a different trade than they could learn at
home.  With one child well placed in the city, one well placed in
government services, one well placed in business, and 4 who stay home to
farm, the family has a much better future income potential than if all were
to stay home on the farm--and farming turned into a bad
business.  Providing a variety of educations and career opportunities for
your children which includes letting one or more of your children move to
your distant relative's town is probably as old as mankind and is very
common around the world today.
	Severe poverty turns the tables:  The children of the rich have hired
employees to care for and work for them.  The children of the middle class
in most countries have everything given to them by their parents (who are
often too busy to really take care of their children but have enough income
to pay for everything).  The children of the lower or working class have
daily chores to do.  Children of the poorer classes have to work to help
feed their own family.  Children of the most severely poor might not be
able to work hard enough in their own family's home to earn enough to
eat--so these children might have to go elsewhere simply to survive.  If
the rich don't care or understand enough to help, and the middle class is
too busy working to pay for everything, the poorest of the poor have
nowhere else to turn than to the lower working class.  Now remember that in
working class families every child has duties, or chores to do (yes,
children have chores in all countries including the "west").  Introduce
severe national economic poverty and put the whole social order into
economic difficulties and the end result will be that the least favored
child has to do more work than the others do.  If we make this severe
poverty endemic then we create all of the ingredients necessary to make the
least defended human work the hardest.  Is anyone getting rich or lazy off
the labor of restavec children?  If someone is, it is certainly not anyone
who continues to live in severe endemic economic (chaotic) poverty.  Wake
up and smell all realities ism's in our global village today: most people
survive on less than one dollar a day.  It is not right, it is also
completely logical, and no Haiti did not invent or create the restavec
phenomenon.  (I don't believe Haiti or Haitians created severe endemic
poverty either).
	Please bear with me for a few more words:  for those of us who live in the
"free" world (long live OUR democracy), before you tuck your child into bed
to go to sleep look up at the toys you bought for them notice the mouse,
and wonder what hands made those toys.  If you play baseball or softball,
perhaps you remember what words were once printed onto most of those
balls--maybe you wonder why those words are not on the new balls.  If you
fish in the Chesapeake, perhaps the same words were on the packaging of the
new lure you bought last week.  Have you ever wondered what happened to the
rest of the chicken whose breast you ate last night?  Have you ever
wondered who eats all the corn from Iowa?  Have you ever tried living on
one dollar a day?  Will you send your child off to learn more so they can
get a good job?  Maybe tomorrow you should think about these things when
you put on your newest pair of name brand blue jeans and maybe you should
know more before you buy your next pair of popular shoes.  Are you rich and
uncaring or simply don't know, are you overworked and underpaid and too
busy staying on top of everything, or can you step down a notch and feel
like a common working person today?  Are you already a working class kind
of person, isn't it nice to have a job... I hope you still do.  Parents
especially, please read my last few words.
	Meet a s_ave child:  There is nothing more haunting in this world than to
look into the eyes of a 4 year old s_ave child and see no emotions at
all.  No fear, no joy, no sorrow, no want, no need, no hurt, no
humiliation, no anger---no nothing.  A void.  This is not an act, this is
not a game, this is not any sort of defensive mechanism.  Be honest and
true, and try looking deep into the eyes of a tiny s_ave child. I
have.  All sense of pure and safe and good and innocent were ripped
violently through my logical mind while my honor dignity and self worth
joined up to with my heart that has always loved humanity-- and together
they slammed into the floor below, leaving my body and mind an empty shell
rocking high above those feet of mine that were now as heavy as cement.  In
the empty vacuum of my mind my soul began to scream at my God as I looked
into the eyes of one s_ave child.  For all that is pure and innocent and
wholesome and humane about my world was gone, the child is only a
shadow.  And while my soul prayed that the Lord might forgive myself and
the whole world that I am a part of, I gulped for air to help me regain my
senses and I discovered that I was now drenched in freezing cold
sweat.  Trembling slightly with sweat dripping onto the floor, I removed my
eyes from the emptiness of this s_ave child's eyes, to look into the empty
eyes of another, and then another.  This classroom full of hollow
emotionless s_ave children eyes were waiting for me, important foreign
visitor from somewhere far away, to say something....  Now imagine yourself
in a room full of these children, and then try visiting school room after
school room after school room.  The experience may forever scar your soul
and my only consolation is that a few very dedicated people are doing all
they can for all restavec children they can reach and help.  If you can
help a restavec child in anyway, I beg that you do.
	I thank you for reading my words and I thank all who truly help Haiti.

Hal Noss
distinct photography world wide
(no politics please, aucune politique s'il vous plais)