Merlande doing her homework

Life as a Restavek

One of my favorite Cross-supported projects in Haiti is a specialized education program for restavek children. Together with our ministry partner Mission Evangelique Baptiste Du Su D’Haiti (MEBSH), we support 49 literacy centers throughout southern Haiti!

(Restaveks, or children working as indentured servants for a host family, are routinely denied the opportunity to attend school. The MEBSH schools teach them how to read, write, and do arithmetic, skills they would likely never learn otherwise.

On a recent trip to one of the centers in Les Cayes, I met Mirlande, 9. Mirlande has lived with distant relatives for three years since her parents, too poor to keep her in their household, sent her away. The house she lives in is in bad shape—the cement walls are falling in and it leaks badly when it rains. She sleeps on the floor.

Mirlande says she works hard for the family she lives with. Her chores include sweeping, making the beds, washing clothes, and cooking. Chores in Haiti aren’t exactly like chores in developed countries; Mirlande has to go down to the river and wash the clothes by hand for example. On top of the work, she said the family isn’t very nice to her and some days there isn’t enough food in the house.

It’s heart-wrenching to think of children like Mirlande stuck in a life of hard work and living with a family that isn’t her own—and doesn’t treat her well to boot. But there’s at least one bright spot for restaveks all over southern Haiti: their local MEBSH school.

Mirlande is in third grade and has been coming to her school since first grade. She said Haitian history, geography, and French are her favorite subjects. “I love school a lot. I don’t like the summers when I can’t come to school,” Mirlande said.

All the schools serve a hot meal every day and focus on Jesus into daily lessons. Mirlande studies the Bible with her classmates and teacher every day. “My favorite thing I’ve learned from the Bible lessons is to pray every morning and every night,” she said.

Without these schools, children like Mirlande wouldn’t have a very bright future. They wouldn’t get an education, have a meal every day, or know Jesus as their personal savior. These schools are creating disciples of Christ among children who are otherwise ignored.

Please pray for Mirlande and all of Haiti’s restavek children!

-Stephanie J.


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