The Libere Initiative
The Libere Initiative represents the relief efforts of our partnering churches as it relates to orphans and vulnerable children in Haiti. Each partnering church invests financially each year to help their partnering church meet the immediate and most fundamental needs of these children, including food security, clean water, and medicine.
Libere is the Creole word for “liberate.” We call our relief efforts “Libere” because the work local churches are doing with these children is literally setting them free from a life of poverty and even worse indentured servitude. When parents are no longer able to care for their own children in the most basic way, the children are given over either to a host family in the community where they can have a chance to survive. However, that child is stripped of any opportunity of education and treated like a slave to the community. They are not loved or cared for by adults who are committed to teaching and training them. Rather, they are assimilated into a labor pool of young children who work night and day simply to survive.
Currently in Haiti, over 300,000 children would be classified in this category (known as a “restavec“). The Restavec Freedom Alliance describes their situation this way:
Due to the crushing poverty rate, many poor parents believe the city offers great opportunity and better educational programs for their children. However, that is usually never the case. The young children are offered as servants to families, distant relatives, friends or total strangers. Often, an education or trade is promised for the child. This promise is false. The average child works from daybreak to sundown on household chores. They have don’t have a childhood, do not receive proper care and have no future. Restavec children are not allowed to go to school – they have no education.
What our Haitian churches are doing is taking these vulnerable children (in addition to legal orphans) and providing an alternative life where they can live as children, receive quality education, benefit from nutritious food and clean water, and most important know and experience the love of Jesus Christ by adults who will love them as their own. This initiative is called Libere because we are working to set the captive children free with a hope and future as bright as the promises of God.
Relief efforts, however, are not meant to be permanent. They are to “stop the bleeding” so to speak, and make it possible for rehabilitation and development to take place in the lives of children as well as the community as a whole. Threfore, The Libere Initiative is not comprehensive in our approach to orphan care. It is merely the starting point. But without it, our Haitian churches cannot function to the capacity it needs to adequately meet the immediate needs of orphaned and vulnerable children in their community.