Haiti’s Human Trafficking Connection

Haiti’s Human Trafficking Connection

Human trafficking is the fastest growing crime in the world. Haiti is one of the poorest countries in the world, with 75% of its population living on less than $2 a day. It is also a the top 10 country in the Global Slavery Index. 40 percent of its population cannot read. All of these factors exacerbate a Haitian child’s risk of being trafficked.

Poverty and Restavek

Living in one of the world’s poorest countries, many Haitians are at risk of being trafficked. Human trafficking victims in Haiti are primarily children. Oftentimes, impoverished parents give their children to orphanages or wealthy families. The latter practice, which this post focuses on, is called restavek.

According to Restavek Freedom:

“In Haiti, 1 in 15 children live in restavek, supporting the household work of wealthier families. These children in slavery work long hours in isolation for little or no pay. Far too many make dinner and eat alone, are denied schooling options, and are there to pay the debts of other family members.”

When giving their children to restavek, parents usually believe the child will be receive sufficient food, education, and care . Nothing could be further from the truth. Restavek is an abusive enslavement that “exploits [children] in their most vulnerable state.” According to the U.S. State Department,”most of Haiti’s trafficking cases consist of the estimated 150,000-500,000 children in domestic servitude in households throughout Haiti.”

A few more facts about restavek:

  • 60 percent of children living in restavek are girls.
  • The physical toll of restavek wreaks havoc on children’s developing bodies.
  • Malnutrition from meager rations.
  • The expectation that children work from dawn until late evening.
  • Insufficient clothing.

Children also suffer emotional and psychological abuse from practices such as the following:

  • Preparing a meal for the family they serve, then being forced to eat in isolation.
  • Conditioning that leads the child to believe they do not belong.
  • The child being taught not to express individuality, including emotions, personality, or thoughts.
  • The “twisted bond” coming from the child being abused by her or his oppressor, but receiving food, shelter, and clothing.

Education’s Role in Ending Restavek

Education is a particularly important piece in solving this puzzle and ending human trafficking in Haiti. Education empowers children to build a better life. 40 percent of Haitians cannot read, and the poorest are more likely to be illiterate. Parents often give their children to restavek situations or orphanages hoping their child will be educated. By promoting education in impoverished communities, nonprofits, such as Global Education Philanthropists, alleviate illiteracy and reduce a child’s risk of being trafficked.

With an education, a child has better future work prospects, which will help her or him break out of the poverty cycle. Community education, which Global Education Philanthropists also promotes, raises public awareness “about children’s rights to education and freedom from slavery to counteract tolerance of restavek.” Haiti’s government has made no educational efforts in either of these areas, leaving the mission up to NGOs and foreign aid efforts.

Global Education Philanthropists has domestic and international opportunities to help. Domestically, the nonprofit gathers school supplies and monetary donations to decrease educational costs for children in Haiti. Internationally, the group makes humanitarian trips to Haiti and other countries in the region to build and improve schools, train teachers, and educate the community on issues such as human trafficking.

The issues Haitians face are immense, but not insurmountable. Please help us end restavek today and donate.

Rebuilding Haiti

After the earthquake ravaged Haiti in 2010, the Red Cross raised half a billion dollars to rebuild damaged homes. Nearly a decade later, the Red Cross only built six homes when they planned to build 700 by 2013. Yes. That is six homes. In contrast, one charity that uses 3D printing has built 750 homes in Haiti since 2015.5 

Knowing where your donations go

A key takeaway from failed Red Cross housing projects in Haiti is to donate to a charity with experience in both development and working the country where it plans humanitarian work. The Red Cross did not have development experience or the “know-how,” as said by Carline Noailles, the project’s manager in DC.6

Bureaucracy was another barrier the Red Cross encountered when it failed to execute its Haiti housing project. The project was micromanaged from DC, according to another Red Cross official who worked on the project, which made it impossible for workers on the ground in Haiti to make any progress. An NPR investigation found that: “Lacking the expertise to mount its own projects, the Red Cross ended up giving much of the money to other groups to do the work. Those groups took out a piece of every dollar to cover overhead and management. Even on the projects done by others, the Red Cross had its own significant expenses – in one case, adding up to a third of the project’s budget.”6

Our Experience in Haiti

Global Education Philanthropists has extensive development experience in Haiti building homes and schools for villagers. We have contacts on the ground and a transparent structure that minimizes bureaucracy. Our trips to Haiti have made it apparent that there is a dire need for housing that 3D printing has a huge potential to remediate. Providing safe and sturdy homes for Haitians will help recipients break out of the poverty cycle. With a good roof over their heads, these people will be less desperate for money and consequently, less likely to give up their children or themselves to human traffickers. 

Desperate Need For Housing

There are still many camps of displaced persons throughout the country. One example is Camp Caradeux, which at first served as a temporary home for 20,000 displaced people. In 2018, many of these camp residents were still living in this camp, as housing projects have not materialized and Haiti’s economy is still weak. This camp is “transforming into a village as people build cinder block homes and try to create more normal lives.”7 These cinder block homes cost approximately $7,000–more than sturdier, higher-quality 3D printed homes. 

Greater Possibilities

Beyond building homes, 3D printing could bring STEM education to classrooms in Haiti. One “start-up has manufactured a platform to create 3D printed hydroponic systems to grow plants and food,” which also teaches students about agriculture.8 The technology can also create weather stations for as little as $200, when these typically cost over $10,000. Weather stations are incredibly beneficial to communities in developing regions because they warn of incoming natural disasters and help calculate damage severity for aid groups. Using 3D printing, another group has created a water bottle that filters water and clears out harmful microbes. 

Clearly, 3D printing offers many exciting chances for us to alleviate poverty. Housing is just a starting point for us to empower many lives worldwide. Change a community today and donate to help us make a home a dream come true for more families or sign up to join us on a trip this summer.


1 https://yaleglobal.yale.edu/content/cities-grow-worldwide-so-do-numbers-homeless

2 https://www.voanews.com/a/three-d-printed-house-quick-cheap-solution-poor-worldwide/4301324.html

3 https://unfoundation.org/blog/post/3d-printing-for-good-how-one-nonprofit-is-printing-homes-for-families-in-need/

4 https://borgenproject.org/3d-printer-global-poverty/

5 https://newstorycharity.org/impact/#where-we-work

6 https://www.propublica.org/article/how-the-red-cross-raised-half-a-billion-dollars-for-haiti-and-built-6-homes

7 https://montreal.ctvnews.ca/eight-years-later-haiti-still-recovering-from-devastating-earthquake-1.37581548 https://www.borgenmagazine.com/3d-printers-significance-alleviating-poverty/

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