As we celebrate the fourth of July today, may we remember that freedom is not free. It comes with a price. And men and women have fought long hard battles to protect our freedom.
And may we remember that not everyone is free.
A few weeks ago I had the privilege to speak to this precious group of boys and girls who are called “Restaveks.” This word is derived from the French language reste avec, meaning “one who stays with.” In Haiti, children between the ages of 4 to 16 are often given to a host family as a domestic servant (or also referred to as “slave”) because the parents lack the financial resources to support their own child. This host family may be a distant relative or even a stranger. It is a problem that has derived from the intense poverty which stares you in the face. Imagine having to make this tough choice. Knowing you cannot afford to feed your child, you make the difficult decision to give them up.
It has to be one of the most agonizing decisions a mother or father makes.
Restaveks will receive food, clothing and housing for doing household chores. Depending on the situation, they may or may not be given an education. The reality is most of them have too many chores to do to even leave the house.
One of the most complex contradictions you will see in these children’s faces is their joy. Despite their circumstances and deplorable living quarters, some of these children have found joy. They have found hope. Through ministries like #myLIFEspeaks in the rural village of Neply, Haiti, these children have discovered they are loved.
“We wait in hope for the LORD; he is our help and our shield.” Psalm 33:20
Everytime I visit Haiti, the restaveks break me. They tear me up. I come home to comfort, recreation and leisure–and leave this injustice behind. I don’t have an answer to solve it. The problem is much bigger than I.
But God, He is able. He is able to set the captive free.
“Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us,” Ephesians 3:20
I realize this is a debbie-downer message on a day which is to be filled with fun, family & fireworks. I’m truly sorry. It’s just I can’t shake the image of these kiddos from my mind. A year ago, I didn’t even know restaveks existed. But now I know and feel compelled to do something about it. I love the work of #myLIFEspeaks as they come alongside the Restavek to give them hope. Please visit myLIFEspeaks for more info.
Now go out and have fun! Enjoy your friends and family. Hug them tight today. You have been blessed with #freedom on the #fourthofJuly.