“One recent estimate suggests that one in four Haitian children between the ages of 5 and 17 live apart from their parents, and that roughly half of these children end up trapped in domestic servitude and abuse. About 250,000 Haitian children, mostly girls, currently live in restavek. Ending this practice is the primary mission of Beyond Borders.”
Just a year ago I had the remarkable opportunity to visit programs of Beyond Borders, our mission partner in Haiti. It was truly an amazing trip that included visits to the school programs we support on Ile de LaGonav as well as meetings with survivors of restavek (the terrible form of child slavery still practiced in Haiti) who are now rebuilding their lives. When we returned I wrote a story of this journey and the people and sites we visited. This manuscript is available for you to read on our UCC website. I hope you will read it and then talk with me and others about what we saw and what we can do.
Every time I consider making a trip to visit and work with one of our mission partners I am faced with the question of whether it is reasonable to spend money making the trip or if it might be better just to donate the travel money I would spend to the organization, to fund their work. This is not an easy decision and it is one probably everybody who goes on one of these trips has to make. The reasoning that has persuaded me to go ahead and make some trip is of two types.
First, there is no substitute for seeing the situation on the ground and meeting the people who are right there. Only through these personal interactions and inquiries is it possible to even begin to understand the complexity of the issues and decide what approaches could be useful.
Second, once I’ve been to a place such as Haiti I just cannot stop learning and talking about it. For example, when I recently read news reports of violence in Port au Prince I immediately worried about the safety of individuals we had met. In addition, I remembered things I had seen and learned that made the anger and desperation of these folks more understandable. For example, the role foreign aid has played in destroying the once-thriving farming and textile sectors of the Haitian economy. And then I thought about the big garden at the Joli Vege school, our school, and how teaching school children and their families about growing food can alleviate poverty and hunger. Now I’m back in Crested Butte eager to tell you more about our trip and about Beyond Borders. I believe it is an excellent organization that deserves our continued support.
Here is the link to a special website that Beyond Borders has set up to receive donations from UCC. Donations from UCC are particularly targeted to the “Schools Not Slavery” program.
Thank you – Kate Vogel
UCC Mission and Outreach Committee