by Vlad Sokhin In modern Haiti more than 300,000 children are victims of domestic slavery. In Haitian Creole they are called "Restavek", from French "rest avec" (stay with).  Many parents, who live in poverty, are unable to feed their children and give them away to more affluent families, hoping that their child will live in better conditions and will be able to get an education. But, with few exceptions, Restavek children become slaves, working in the homes of their owners from early morning till night. They fetch dozens of litres of water a day, cook, wash clothes, clean yards and do all other household chores. They are not allowed to sleep on the bed, eat at the table with the rest of the host-family or play with other children. Most of the Restaveks are not permitted to go to school and are constantly exposed to domestic and sexual violence. After the earthquake of 2010, the situation in Haiti deteriorated significantly.  Many children lost their homes and parents. A big number of those kids became Restaveks. To date, even poor families keep two or three Restaveks, treating them sometimes tougher than rich families might. There are several NGOs that aim to put child servitude in the country to an end. One of them, Restavek Freedom Foundation, finds families who have Restavek children and convince their owners to allow them to attend school, offering to pay for the education, school uniforms and books. But it seems that the help of NGOs is not sufficient to stop child slavery. Haitians, who emerged from centuries of slavery, do not hesitate to use their own children as slaves. In rich families it is not uncommon for a bride to receive a child-slave as a wedding gift. Today, few people in Haiti believe that the situation will change in the near future. Neither the government nor the Catholic church, which has a great influence in the country, is in a hurry to condemn the vicious practice of child slavery. According to Jean-Robert Cadet, a former Restavek and now a famous fighter against the Restavek system, Haiti will be able to solve all the problems only with the termination of exploitation of its own children. Unfortunately, few can hear his appeal and to this day more and more Haitian kids find themselves in slavery to their compatriots. A boy looks at the mirror of a street hairdresser in Tapis Rouge slum area of Carrefour Feuilles neighborhood, Port- au-Prince. After the earthquake of 2010 many children became homeless and were given by their parents to be Restaveks in rich families. Lesli (34), an English teacher from Port-au-Prince, takes a cold beer from the tray held by his restavek, 12-year-old Judeline Reguste. Judeline has been living with Lesli’s family since 2009 and must always be within hearing distance from the owners to fulfill any of their orders. Judeline Reguste (12), a domestic slave in a family of an English teacher, takes a bucket shower at the dump in the house yard. In spite of the fact that her host-family has a bathroom in the house, Judeline is not allowed to use it. Judeline Reguste (12), a domestic slave in a family of an English teacher, cooks food while teacher's daughter Bubu (5) plays in front of her. Judeline became a Restavek in 2009 and although she is permitted to go to school every day, she does all household chores, being treated as a servant by the host family. Judeline Reguste (12), a domestic slave in a family of an English teacher, is sweeping the floor while her “owner” Geshly (34) is checking the messages on her mobile phone. Many women in Haiti ask their husbands to find Restavek children to shift all the household chores on them. Amberline Etienne (7, on the right) with her 3-month-old brother Loubes. Their mother Adeline (32, on the left) cannot afford to feed her 3 kids and pay for Amberline’s school education. Adeline states, that in few months she is going to give Amberline away to another family as a Restavek. Tapis Rouge slum, Port-au-Prince. Children on the street of the Pétion-Ville refugee camp. Many families lost their houses in the earthquake of 2010 and lots of parents had to send their kids away because of the lack of money and food. Many of the children have become domestic slaves in wealthier homes. Enso Jean, 10, is a domestic slave (Restavek) with his "owner". The host family found him on the street when he was 1 year old. From 2 years he began working for the family and nowadays he does all chores in the house, serving for 6 people. Enso works from 5am till 9 pm, sleeps on the floor and is not allowed to play with other children or go to school. Starlie Candio (14) changes the diaper of her owner’s son at the Carrefour Feuilles neighborhood, Port-au-Prince. Starlie became a Restavek when she was 10. She is allowed to go to school because the Restavek Freedom Foundation pays her school fees. But after school Starlie returns to her host-family’s house to work until night. A 12-years-old Restavek girl learns how to count for the first time in her life at Kwadèbouke School of the Institute for Human and Community Development (IHCD), Port-au-Prince. The IHCD operates two schools in Haiti, providing free education and health & psychological care to child victims of slavery. Marie-Ange Gerivil (14), an orphan and a Restavek in the house of a Haitian middle-class family, watches how her “owners” talk with their visitors. As a domestic slave Marie-Ange cannot be present in the same room with the guests, but should always be around ready for any order. Edeline Paul, 14, who became a Restavek after her parents died in 2004, washes clothes for the host-family of 13 people, while one of her “owners” Jules Geurmanie sits near with her children. Santo neighborhood, Port-au-Prince. Judeline Reguste (12), a domestic slave in a family of an English teacher, brings water from the well to the house’s bathroom. Judeline goes to school every morning, but can only do her homework after she finishes all the chores at the house of the host-family. However, she is not allowed to sit at the table and does her homework on the stairs. Victoria, 15, was given by her father to another family as a Restavek after the earthquake of 2010. The host-family treated her very badly, subjecting her to sexual abuse and beatings. She was removed from slavery by the Restavek Freedom Foundation at the end of 2011 and placed in the Transitional House on the outskirts of Port-au-Prince. Victoria lives together with another eleven girls, and dreams to obtain a university degree and become a bank accountant. The Transitional House has only twelve places for Restavek girls, while the estimated number of Haitian children in slavery is over 300,000. Portraits of the restavek-children in one of the schools in Port-au-Prince. All of these kids have their school fees paid by the Restavek Freedom Foundation. However, after school they go back to their daily chores at the houses of host-families, where many of them are constantly exposed to domestic violence. Back to current issue