Breaking the bonds of child slavery

“The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me, because the LORD has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners….”  Isaiah 61:1

She never smiled, talked or played. She never had been to a day of school in her life. She had no parent to love and accept her. She had trouble making friends and always walked alone.

Marie-Nicole from Totoye, Haiti lost both her parents and became a restavek (child slave) in order to survive. She moved in with an abusive family who had no relation to her and made her work in their home instead of going to school. 

Finally, after the January 2010 earthquake, Marie-Nicole was taken in by her deceased mother's cousin, Marthe. But her life didn't get any happier. Marthe had five children of her own and had been the sole provider since her husband left the family. She worked hard to send the five to school, leaving Marie-Nicole out.

Everything changed for Marie-Nicole and Marthe when FH came to their community in October 2010. Working closely with the Community Development Committee in Totoye, FH trained women-mentors on issues of child protection, trauma, and community counseling for vulnerable girls. One of the mentors, Esther, worked as a nurse and had four children of her own but still made time to mentor 10 girls each week in a group setting.

Esther identified Marie-Nicole as a vulnerable girl, asking Marthe if she could join the mentorship program. Marthe resisted, seeing Marie-Nicole as a lost cause — a girl who said nothing but “good morning” and “thank you.”

“She won't ever change,” said Marthe, “so why should she join the program?”

Esther pushed, and Marthe conceded. The first few weeks were difficult for Marie-Nicole; she just sat and didn't participate in the group discussions. Still, she never missed a session, and God was quietly at work.

One day, a rare smile appeared on Marie-Nicole's face as she learned how to make paper flowers. From them, she grew in her ability to make friends, and today, she smiles, talks, plays, and attends the local church.

“I like the program,” Marie-Nicole says. “I have friends to play with.”

Amazingly, the changes in Marie-Nicole were so profound that Marthe asked to be added to the group (despite the group's participants being between ages 10 and 17). Marthe has attended several sessions and now has a different perception of children and how to treat them. She no longer abuses Marie-Nicole but considers her as her own daughter.

 As a further boost, FH arranged for Marie-Nicole to attend one year of school free of charge. She also received a school kit, and Esther, her mentor, provided school uniforms. Thanks to a supportive community, some help from FH and a God who can do anything, Marie-Nicole's life has changed dramatically.


*All names have been changed to protect the parties' privacy.


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