Subtle Slavery in Haiti

This week Americans observe Columbus Day, in honor of the explorer Christopher Columbus, whose mixed legacy has stirred a lot of controversy over the years.

Christopher Columbus
Christopher Columbus

A statue of Columbus still stands in Hispaniola, the Caribbean Island discovered by him five centuries ago, now divided into the countries of Haiti and the Dominican Republic. Here, Columbus and his successors brutally enslaved and massacred the local Arawak population, until not a single one remained. Around the same time, the first African slaves also arrived on the island.

Haiti’s claim to fame is that, many years later, it hosted the first successful slave revolt in the history of the world. The slaves won their freedom by force, while slaves in other countries had to wait to be freed by their governments.

It’s a tragedy, then, that a more subtle form of slavery continues to be practiced in Haiti. Children from poor families are handed over to wealthier families with the promise that they will be educated in return for servitude. Instead, these “restavek” children are abused and treated as less than human.

Cross International supports special restavek schools, where the children are able to get a real education and, more importantly, some time away from their oppressive conditions. In these schools, they are treated with love and respect, they have a chance to befriend other children who share their hard life, and they get to hear the good news of the Gospel.

You can help us bring hope into the life of a restavek child today! CLICK HERE to learn how.

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