Gerthon Saint Preux wanted only one thing as a teenager living in Haiti: to live the American dream. But after he arrived here, he realized he was living the dark nightmare of a child trafficked for labor.A woman from his hometown said she would be his sponsor in the U.S., so Saint Preux left his family for the chance to go to college and one day support his loved ones. When he arrived, his sponsor put him to work at her store, and also gave him chores in her home.There was always a reason why he couldn’t start school. And when his visitor’s visa ended, it only got worse.“From there, I could see hell,” Saint Preux told NBC 4 New York.He worked at the sponsor’s store seven days a week and then cooked and cleaned at her house, without ever being paid. He ate scraps and was forbidden to even sleep on the couch.“She said I’m damaging the couch. I have to sleep on the floor, but the floor has carpet. I just put a pillow there and I sleep,” he said.The sponsor monitored Saint Preux’s phone calls and convinced him that police were his enemy, he says. Even though he interacted with people every day in her store, he never spoke up or asked for help. The terrified teen even considered suicide.“I look for a truck to just throw myself under a truck. I don’t want to suffer — I want a truck to just hit me on the highway and I’m done,” Saint Preux recalled thinking.
Posts Tagged ‘Haiti’
Santiago courts found three men guilty of smuggling 16 Haitian citizens into Chile Thursday, releasing them on probation.
The immigrants were being sold for US$1,000 each for “services.”
Chilean authorities first discovered the operation when Ramírez approached a PDI officer and offered a bribe of US$400 per immigrant to allow the Haitians to illegally cross the Chilean border. The officer then alerted her superiors and was asked to work undercover and accept the bribe in order for authorities to uncover the entire operation.
Source: Santiago Times
Two Nepalese men were rescued from prison-like conditions in Haiti after 11 months at the mercy of human traffickers who had promised them jobs in the United States, the International Organization for Migration said on Tuesday.
The men, in their 30s, had been recruited in their native Nepal by a human smuggling network that had charged them an unspecified fee in exchange for legal immigration and work in the US, Jumbe Omari Jumbe, a spokesman for the Geneva-based organisation told reporters.
Since starting their journey last November, the men had been shuttled through Singapore, China, Brazil, Panama and finally on to Haiti – supposedly their last stop before reaching the US – and had been provided official visas for each country they stopped in. “It reads like a detective story,” Jumbe said, pointing out that the smugglers must have had a massive network since they “actually obtained visas from all these countries.” “They must have paid thousands of dollars,” he added.
Although the two men had been willingly smuggled initially, they became trafficking victims when they arrived in Haiti in January this year and were taken to a private home in the northern city of Cap Haitien. “They were kept as virtual prisoners with little food and dirty drinking water,” Jumbe said, adding that the family had confiscated their passports, threatened them and demanded money.
Source: Daily Times (Pakistan)
Dominican military officials and United Nations agencies are teaming to secure the porousDominican-Haiti border, where human trafficking has proliferated.
The Dominican Minister of Armed Forces in September signed an agreement with the United Nations’ Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the United Nations’ High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) to bolster protection at the border with an eye toward protecting trafficking victims.
Under the agreement, agents of the Dominican Special Corps for Border Security (CESFRONT) will be trained to spot human trafficking and intervene immediately.
Source: infosur hoy
When Helia LaJeunesse was five years old, her mother died. She went to live with her grandmother until she too passed away. A neighbor took Helia in until she was about twelve years old. The woman of the house made Helia do all the cleaning and all of the chores around the house. Helia was verbally and physically abused, and she wasn’t allowed to go to school. Even the neighbors would tell the woman that she was mistreating Helia. The woman would reply that since she didn’t have a family, Helia was an animal, and should be treated like an animal. Not until the community threatened to burn down the woman’s house did she let Helia go to communion class.
Helia finally mustered enough courage to escape. She was enslaved again, “I would have the hope that somebody would deliver me. I always have that hope and I believe that not everybody can be the same way.”
Click on the link above to read the entire interview with Helia!
Fondasyon Limyè Lavi is a Haitian organization dedicated to ending the restavek (child domestic slavery) system.
This little girl lives in a village where many children get sent to the restavek system. Fondasyon Limyè Lavi is working extensively with the village to help them develop their own solutions to keep this from happening.
Slavery has been illegal in Haiti longer than in any other nation (Haiti abolishedslavery nearly sixty years before the United States). Yet the sending of children to work for other families continued. And as Haiti’s economy collapsed (it is now the poorest nation in the western hemisphere), the system of restavek mushroomed, now affecting as many as one in ten of Haiti’s children, according to the UN.
Ideally, the child is enrolled in school by the household he or she is sent to, and treated like one of the family. In practice, this rarely happens: the child’s day is filled with chores, and even the youngest children are expected to fetch heavy buckets of water, hand-wash clothes, carry loads to and from the marketplace, and work in the fields–often working 14 hour days for no pay.
Diminishing lives, damaging communities
Children in the restavek system suffer a kind of apartheid, reduced to a subjugated and even sub-human status in their household and in society–sleeping on the floor, dressed in rags, eating leftovers, and often beaten. Three-quarters are girls, and many are viewed by men in the family as convenient objects for sexual exploitation. Girls are often abruptly expelled from the household if they become pregnant. Successive generations have grown to adolescence in this atmosphere of shame, neglect and abuse–and LimyèLavi believes that this is not only diminishing individual lives but is causing uncalculated damage to the development of communities and society as a whole.
In Creole, “restavèk” means “stay with”—a seemingly benign name for a child from a poor family who stays with wealthier families or relatives.
The long-rooted tradition in Haiti of the restavèk is meant to help children who could not otherwise afford school and other services obtain them in exchange for small services for their host families, who bear the expense.
“The practice originally involved the transfer of the child from one family to another. However, the restavèk system is more accurately characterized as trafficking and now often involves middlemen recruiters, or koutchye, who are paid to find a restavèk for host families,” says a report by Restavèk Freedom.
Children are supposed to be cared for as members of the family. Some do live like brother and sister with their host families’ children—like daughter or son with the parents. Unfortunately, this is not always the case. Children can instead be forced into domestic servitude, suffering abuse from their host families. The schooling, health care and other services promised never materialize for some of Haiti’s estimated 225,000 restavèk children.
Some of these youth may even feel the sting of a cowhide whip, called the rigwaz, a relic from Haiti’s years as a slave colony still used to beat some restavèks, Reuters reported in 2010.