The Issue of "Restavek" in Haiti
Did you know 2 out of every 10 children in Haiti are being Forced to Performed Domestic Work?
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EFFECTS OF POVERTY ON CHILDREN/FACTS
Poverty is a multidimensional phenomenon, encompassing inability for an individual to satisfy his/her basic needs, lack of control over resources, lack of education and poor health. Many social organizations label poverty as the greatest cause of suffering on planet earth. In fact, the World Health Organization stated, ‘The world’s most ruthless killer and the greatest cause of suffering on earth is without a doubt extreme poverty’ (WHO, 1995). Every day, between 22,000 to 25,000 children die because of hunger, 1,500 to 2,500 women die from complications in pregnancy or childbirth that could have been prevented if they had health care assistance. 10,000 to 15,000 newborns die within days or weeks after birth, while the numbers of babies who are born dead are slightly inferior to this newborn dead. According to experts, children under 18 years old makeup to 48% percent of the world’s population in industrialized countries. However, in third world countries, this number is even higher. According to the World Bank, more than 1.2 billion people in 2010 were still without access to electricity or any form of new energy worldwide. This is roughly 17 to 18% of the world population, and today this number is even higher; 1.5 out of 4 people are being forced to live without electricity. About 85% percent of the unelectrified population lives in rural areas and 87 percent are concentrated in countries like Africa and Southern Asia. Their primary sources of energy are kerosene, candles, and batteries. In Haiti, approximately 90% of the population are without electricity, and when they finally get electricity, it only lasts for a few hours. Can a country do well in the world of an economy without the ability to satisfy its basic needs? The answer is of course no. Over 1.29 billion people are living below the poverty line globally, even though each country sets its own poverty line. For those who are experiencing severe poverty their daily earning is only equal to or less than (the U.S. $1, 00 per day). This is $ 30.00 a month, which brings an income of 360/ year. Most of those families have children, and those children are the ones who suffer the most. According to the World Health Organization, approximately 130 million children under the age of 17 become orphans. More than 9 million children under age 5 die on a yearly basis. Those numbers are outrageous because two-thirds of this death could have been prevented if there were adequate nutrition and health assistance for them. In Haiti, children’s situation is no different from other children living in developing countries. It is estimated 3 out of 5 school-age children would never go to school due to financial difficulty, 1 out of 10 children in Haiti is being affected by a modern slavery system known as “Restavek” and 12 to 15% children who are born in Haiti would never reach the age of five (5) because of malnutrition. With the 2010 Earthquake, their situation only gets worse. Thousands of children became orphans and traumatized due to the fact that they have lost one or both parents suddenly, while others are being used to perform criminal activities and other types of shameful activities. Many of these children have nobody to care for them or to feed them. Some of them have no place to sleep, as a result, they live on the street and they only have the chance to shower when it rains or by using unclean water. Our mission is to find these children's homes and make it possible so they can get a good education at no cost to them.
POVERTY EFFECTS ON EDUCATION/FACTS
The United Nations defines illiteracy as a person’s inability to read and write a simple message in any language. In 1950 the U.N. conducted a survey on illiteracy, they found approximately 44% of the world's population was illiterate. Since then progress has been made, in 1978, almost 30 years later, another study showed the rate to have dropped to 32.5%, and by 1990 illiteracy worldwide had dropped to about 27%, and to 16% by 1998. 16% illiteracy rate is roughly 1 billion people who still don’t know how to read and write their own names. Among that number, 130 million are children between the ages of 15 to 21 who cannot read or write due to poverty. 64% of that 1 billion illiterate are women, and some 53 percent of them are children with a large number of girls. This means, for every 100 boys who are out of school, 115 to 120 girls are in the same situation. In other words, more school-age girls are out of school than boys. The United Nations listed 22 countries where more than half the population does not know how to read and write; among those 22 countries, 15 are in the African continent. In Haiti, more than 65% of the population does not know how to read and write, while 3 out of 5 school-age children can’t go to school due to financial difficulty. Most of us know at least someone who cannot read or write, and this is not right. Illiteracy's effects on a country's social and economic development is a lot bigger than we can ever imagine, unfortunately, its effects are a lot worse among children. According to the American Psychological Association (APA), research has demonstrated that living in poverty has a wide range of negative effects on the physical and mental health and wellbeing of a child. Poverty impacts children within their various contexts at home, in school, and in their neighborhoods and communities. If the children who represent the future of a country and the world can’t read and write their own names, how they going to have a better life and a brighter future than their parents? Poverty can cause learning impairments among children and adults, study shows when a person is hungry that person will have a lot of difficulties to concentrate or remember anything. A person’s memory is greatly affected by both acute and chronic stress. Other than learning impairments, poverty has other psychological effects; it is a great source of psychiatric disorders such as depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic disorder. The argument is that poverty leads to severe stress, and since our brain is not equipped to undergo stress for a very long time; as a result, that stress becomes chronicle which can lead to various psychiatric disorders mentioned above and his/her memory as well.
An estimated 20 to 30 million children worldwide have been forced to leave their homes because of conflict and human rights violations and other types of reasons according to human rights organizations. Sometimes those children are victims of some of the most horrible crimes in the world such as; human trafficking and sexual abuse. Haiti is no different from that type of practice, (Restavek) is a common practice among Haitians families. Restavek involves giving the child to someone who has a better socio-economic background so he/she can serve that person as a housemaid. In fact, it is estimated that 1 out 0f 10 children are affected by this type of modern slavery, and in most cases, these children are sexually abused and neglected. Poverty can lead to social exclusion or discrimination sometimes and other types of social injustice. When a person is poor or doesn’t belong to the same social class as for those he/she is interacting with; whether at work, at school, in college or in government office; they quickly discriminate against that person by not valuing what he/she has to say or how he/she feels. Just because someone if the poor doesn’t mean his/her opinion is not important. No one was asked to be born poor, it just happens to them by no fault of their own, and the more we ignore them the situation will only become worse and worse, until we are forced to address it, and today is that day. More people are living in poverty today than any other time; for those who can make it, they just one paycheck away to become poor, meaning they are living paycheck to paycheck. One unexpected expense or a late fee penalty only take food off their tables. The middle class is shrinking, causing more people to become poor while those who are already poor are getting poorer. The gap between rich and poor has never been so wide and people are becoming more reluctant in helping those in need.
Another social factor of poverty is teen pregnancy. Nearly 30 to 35 percent of women worldwide give birth before they reach 18. Some 200 million women who wish to space or limit their childbearing do not have access to contraception. In fact, most of them don’t even know if such a thing exists.
Crime is also another factor of poverty; when poverty is high in a country more crime is being committed. Poverty’s effects on crime can be explained through a variety of reasons. According to Brill et al. (2013), there is a higher rate of mental illness in the poor than in the rich. According to the American Psychological Association (2014), Children living in poverty are at greater risk of behavioral and emotional problems. Some behavioral problems may include impulsiveness, difficulty getting along with peers, aggression, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and conduct disorder. Some emotional problems may include feelings of anxiety, depression, and low self-esteem. Poverty often leads to high levels of stress which then turn to frustration and anger and may lead to theft, robbery, or other types of criminal activities. By no mean we’re saying behind every crime poverty is the cause. But our point is that poverty may lead to an actual or perceived inferior education, which would cause youth to count on less access to quality schools, jobs, and role models, decreasing the opportunity costs of crime and increasing the probability of youth spending time on the street associating with gangs, etc. (Ludwig, 2012). Crime offers a way in which impoverished people can obtain material goods that they cannot attain through legitimate means. In order words; poverty leads to crime.
More than 3 quarter of those without jobs around the world are between the ages of 18 to early 30’s. In 2008 the total was almost 200 million. This number is expected to increase by 50 to 60 million every year if nothing is done to control it. In Haiti, most students after graduating from college, they can’t find work anywhere because there are not enough work. As a result, they end up staying with their parents hoping for better days that might never come.
According to the United Nations, more than 1.5 million people are experiencing severe or absolute poverty in Haiti, while 6.7 million of the population is struggling to meet their own basic needs on a daily basis. This is a country of roughly 10 million people, but more than 8 million of that 10 million are fighting to keep their heads above the water. One in seven people experiences or dies of starvation every day. Approximately 960 million people across the world go to bed and wake up in the morning with the same question in mind; what have I done to deserve this? Or does God really care for me? More than 9 million children under age 5 die every year due to malnutrition and lack of medical care. About 5.6 million children who die each year worldwide are cases related to malnutrition. This is approximately 53 to 55% of the total deaths for children under the age of 5. More than 140 to 150 million or 25 percent of all children worldwide are underweight and at risk from the long-term effects of undernourishment, and 80 percent of the world's stunted children live in just 20 countries, and Africa alone has about 87% of those children. Nearly 15 percent of babies in developing countries are born with a low birth weight compared with only 7 percent of babies in industrialized countries. For the 5.6 million children who die from malnutrition each year the bad news is that this number is growing each year despite a lot of efforts to reverse the situation. Unicef reports approximately 161 million preschool children to suffer from chronic malnutrition. 925 million people worldwide are malnourished, and there are more than 9 million deaths related to hunger each year; meaning, every minute 8 to 10 people die. This is a small portion of the problems that our world is facing because of hunger when looking around. But the truth is hunger has nothing to do with food shortage, there are many other things that contribute to hunger around the world especially in Haiti, such as poverty, lack of infrastructures, discrimination, political instability, and lack of power to decide one’s own destiny.
WHY YOU SHOULD CONCERN ABOUT POVERTY/FACTS
First of all, we all can agree that poverty is a disgraceful and unjust condition that has always haunted mankind. Most people see the problem as insoluble, and this is no fault to them because they witnessed previous solutions that have failed. In fact, some of those previous remedies to poverty have worsened the condition of the poor. Many are those who believe that assisting the poor only increases dependency and produce a “culture of poverty” that persists from generation to generation. Some go further and blame the poor for their problems. They think many of the poor are shiftless, lazy, unintelligent, or even parasitic. All that said is; there is widespread pessimism about mankind’s ability to reduce the world’s level of poverty and help save the lives that are being wasted.
Everyone should be concerned about poverty because it's growing faster every single day. We are now over 8 billion people living on earth. Approximately 4.7 billion people live in low and middle-low income economies. In contrast, 65 high-income countries have a combined population of about 1 billion less than one-sixth of the world's population. Nearly one in four people in the world are young, between ages 15 and 24; while 85 percent of all adolescents live in developing countries. The world population is growing by about 0.8 percent, or almost 80 million people, per year. As of 2006, approximately 48.8 percent of the world's population lived in urbanized areas. In developing countries, more than one-third of this growing urban population lives in slum conditions. Every second 4.3 people are born worldwide; while every second 1.8 deaths occur. The world population has a net gain of 2.5 people every second. In Sub-Saharan Africa 55 percent of children under 5 have never been registered; worldwide nearly 50 million children each year are not registered and begin life with no identity.
POVERTY'S EFFECTS ON THE ENVIRONMENT/FACTS
At least 1.6 billion people globally do not have electricity in their homes, and approximately 54 percent of people in developing countries lack access to modern forms of energy. More than 3 million children under age 5 die each year from diseases because of environment-related causes and conditions. Each year, acute respiratory infections kill approximately 2 million children under age 5. Worldwide, 60 percent of acute respiratory infections are due to environmental conditions. Diarrheal diseases take the lives of almost 2 million children each year. Eighty to 90 percent of these diseases are related to environmental conditions, specifically contaminated water and inadequate sanitation. Nearly 1 million people die each year because of malaria. Of these deaths, 80 percent are children under age 5 in sub-Saharan Africa. Up to 90 percent of malaria cases are attributed to environmental factors. About 2.5 billion people do not have access to adequate sanitation — roughly two-fifths of the world's population. About 1 million children each year are diagnosed with intestinal worms causing malnutrition due to the lack of sanitation. Many cases go undiagnosed since mothers may think this normal and not seek medical attention. More than 6 million people are blind from trachoma, a disease caused by the lack of water along with poor hygiene practices. Studies show that adequate water supply could reduce trachoma infections by 25 percent. More than 200 million people live in coastal flood zones, which would be dramatically impacted by rising waters. While some 4 billion people — 60 percent of the world's population — live within 65 miles of a coast.
The number of people living in countries where cultivated land is critically scarce is projected to increase from 448 million in 2005 to between 559 million and 706 million in 2025.
Information given on this page about poverty and its effects on children can be verified at those sources below:
Source: State of Food Insecurity in the World, FAO, 2012
Source: Women in Agriculture: Closing the Gender Gap for Development, FAO, 2011
Source: Series on Maternal and Child Nutrition, The Lancet, 2013
Source: Global Health Observatory, WHO, 2011
Source: Prevalence and Trends of Stunting among ... Children, Public Health Nutrition, 2012
Source: Maternal and Child Undernutrition: Effective Action at National Level, The Lancet, 2008
Source: Two Minutes to Learn About School Meals, WFP, 2012