This was the slogan adopted by the ASR Network for the National Children´s Day celebrations held throughout Port-au-Prince, Haiti on June 10th.
The ASR Network is a coalition of eighteen Haitian organizations that advocates for children’s rights and for the ending of the “restavek” phenomenon. Restaveks are children who work in other people’s homes and are typically deprived of an education, the most basic rights, and the love of their family.
National Children’s Day in Haiti is celebrated every June, and this year, the ASR Network organized activities in different neighborhoods throughout the capital.
In Carrefour Feuilles, a neighborhood of Port-au-Prince that has one of the highest numbers of restavèk children, 500 children gathered together in the public space of Jeremie Plaza for theatre, music and discussion groups.
In the neighborhood of La Saline, ASR member Lavi Timoun (Life of Children) organized an event for restavek children and the “host” families with whom they live. A movie was shown where the daily life of a restavèk girl was portrayed. Then, participants in the celebration had the chance to learn about the importance and the procedure of getting a birth certificate, something that is not easy or common in Haiti. An interesting initiative of Lavi Timoun was the distribution of a code of conduct to parents and host families of all the children present at the event. The contents of the code included guidelines about how to better treat children and information about the rights that every child has.
Meanwhile, at the celebration of ASR member AED held in the area of Solino, the singing, dancing and activities elicited bright smiles on the faces of children who had gone through much misery. A little girl testified that since she started participating in AED educational activities three years ago, her life has changed from doing chores and working hard every day, to getting more respect and better treatment from her host family.
Another ASR member, the Salvation Army, works in Delmas 2, where insecurity is high and shooting is heard on a daily basis. They celebrated National Children’s Day with a simple gathering. Four boys performed a sketch to show how children live on the street while a passionate animator sang in a sad, low voice. Later, the children sang and danced, and twenty-six of them recited a poem to help children remember their rights. In the poem, each letter of the alphabet represented a right, such as A for alimentacion (food), E for education, V for vie (life).
With these activities, another National Children’s Day passed, but the problems still remain. The ASR Network fights to raise awareness of children’s rights so children are treated well every day and not just on every June 10th. Church World Service has long supported these organizations in this fight.
Photos: Margot de Greef / Aaron Tate (Main)