“The Cruelty of Invisibility: A First-hand Account of Child Slavery in Haiti,” by Jean-Robert Cadet,
; As a slave child, my day began at 5:30 in the morning and ended when the last adult went to sleep. I had to sweep the yard, water the plants, fill the tub for everyone’s bath, empty and wash chamber pots, hand-wash diapers, boil baby bottles, wash the car twice a day, dust the furniture every day, serve people drinks in the front yard every evening, wash people’s feet every evening, run errands, wash women’s monthly napkins, fetch water from afar, be borrowed by the family’s friends, and cook my own food. I worked seven days a week with no pay and no time for rest or play. I was also excluded from all family activities—meals, school or church attendance, birthdays, Christmas, New Years’ celebrations, weddings, First Communions and even funerals. And I couldn’t speak unless spoken to. For any minor infraction, such as not answering quickly enough when my name was called, I was beaten without mercy. Like all restavec children, I was only an observer rather than a participant in my Haitian culture and society.
Posted January 13, 2003