In the United States we recognize April as Child Abuse Prevention Month. In Haiti there is no month or even day to recognize this serious issue, but HTF partners are addressing this issue daily in their work. Below– the story of Viergena and how Tetkole helped her escape living as a restavek. Tetkole has such a reputation that only a few months after opening their temporary shelter for displaced children, the local government contacted them for help. Beyond its commitment to help children escape dangerous situations, Tetkole invests in children for the long haul.
The Restavek situation is very common in Haiti. Many peasants who can’t afford to feed their kids send them to be restaveks or to live in orphanages. Some orphanages, like one in Leogane started by a group of pastors, need children and pay traffickers to bring them children.
Viergena Joseph is from Macary, a section of Marigot in Haiti’s Southeast region. The Haiti National Police, specifically the Brigade Protection des Mineurs (BPM), apprehended individuals at the bus station in Jacmel who were exchanging money for Viergena. After their hearing at the court in Jacmel, L’Institut du Bien Etre Social et de Recherche (IBESR) and the commissioner of the government entrusted Viergena to the Foundation TETKOLE POU YON DEMEN MIYO for temporary care. A few months later, under the authorization of Me Antoine Jean Fehaud, Deputy Commissioner of the government near the court of first instance of of Jacmel, the TETKOLE team reintegrated Viergena into her family in Macary on Tuesday, July 19, 2011. She is currently enrolled in a privated school in the area and F. Tetkole reaffirms its commitment to support Viergena Joseph until the age of 21 years.
Viergena and her father reunited in front of Tetkole’s day center
Viergena together again with her family at their home in Macary