Children are important and deserve protection, but too often you will find that isn’t the experience of kids in Haiti. Here is a vocabulary list to talk about child abuse and neglect in Haitian Creole. Please don’t hesitate to ask questions in the comment section below.
Mo kijan timoun pase mizè sitou Ayiti
Words about how children can suffer in Haiti.
Vyòl — rape
Maltrete — abuse
Agresyon seksyèl — Sexual assult
menase — threatening
kidnape — kidnapping
esklav — enslaved
neglijans — neglected
Restavèk — house servitude
How do you say “child abuse” in Creole?
“Maltrete timoun” is a Haitian Creole phrase that means “child abuse.”
Is child abuse common in Haiti?
Like many developing countries, the social services of the government are underfunded. It is very difficult for them to investigate and help all the children who are suffering abuse. That is true in many nations.
There is an epidemic of orphanages in Haiti. This institutionalized child care often lacks the safeguards to prevent abuse and neglect. While there are many excellent organizations, there are many others who simply don’t do enough to protect the children they serve. These stories come into the news several times each year, however change is slow.
“Restavik” is a Haitian Creole word meaning “lives with” but describes a house servant status that many poor children suffer. This should not be confused with foster care or simply living with a relative. The situation for the restavik is much worse, even treated like a family’s animal. They are denied education, basic comforts, and targeted for abuse.
Why are there so many “orphans” in Haiti?
The problem is desperation. Parents who lack basic resources will often enroll their children in a local orphanage in the hope their child can find a better life. By most definitions, these children would be considered orphans in America. There is a lot of confusion because of language barriers (and US donors are often mislead). The reality is most residents in Haitian orphanages have relatives who would care for them if they could find the resources.
Every situation is different. There are many good people working to help the children of Haiti, but there are an equal number who don’t understand the real situation. Most private orphanages are operated like a family business rather than a real charity.
Don’t be afraid to give, but always do your own research.