Jisika Jean Claude was only 10 when her father sent her away to live with another family. She thought she would go to school, but was forced instead to do chores, iron and wash clothes, and care for other children as a household servant. It was not the life she was promised. She had become a Haitian restavèk child slave.
“My life would be different today if I was not in restavèk,” she says. “I wanted to be a doctor but my dream has been destroyed.’’
Fortunately, a neighbor saw Jisika struggling and facilitated her escape. Now, Jisika helps rescue others, going door-to door to uncover cases of child slavery. She knows how to spot it, because she’s lived it. Angry homeowners threaten and mock her. Those are the ones she reports to police.
Jisika’s door-to-door activism is part of the “Zero Restavèk” campaign run by Free the Slaves and Beyond Borders. A network of adult restavèk survivors fans out in Port-au-Prince neighborhoods to distribute awareness-raising brochures and spot cases of child slavery to report to authorities. This year, the survivors have talked to 7,500 people and identified 35 children who need help.
It costs about $1,000 to effectively blanket a neighborhood in street outreach projects like this. You can help slavery survivors double their impact if you could contribute $80 per month. That’s because a generous foundation is matching all contributions up to $100,000 this summer during our Doubling Down on Freedom Campaign.
The brochure Jisika hands out has a simple message: “Children trapped in restavèk are slaves, they need to be liberated now.” I hope you can help.