24 August 2010

One Boy’s Journey to Hope

Below, the story of this young man and who he becomes, is living proof that fate has little to do with where you're from or what's happened to you. It's the story of a Haitian restavek who was given a chance at life.

Today, Baby Auguste is 15 years old and only in the second grade. Until a few years ago, his days consisted of trying to find food for him and his family to eat, rather than learning how to spell and write his name.

When Baby Auguste was much younger, his father occasionally crossed the border to the neighboring Dominican Republic to buy fighting roosters. Usually he left for just a few days and would return to sell the fighting roosters in Haiti. One day, his father left and never came back.

At that time, Baby had only been in school for a year – but his father’s disappearance meant an end to his formal education. Not only could his family not afford the tuition, they would go on for days without any food in the house. Young Baby Auguste had to do what he could to find something to put in his aching belly.

For years, he spent his days roaming the streets of the mountainside slum where they lived or the neighborhoods of Port-au-Prince. Baby Auguste would wash car windows on the city’s main throughways, begging for a mere few Haitian Gourds. For 10 Gourds, he could buy a cup of coffee or some crackers.

"I liked to walk,” he recalls. "I couldn’t bear to stay idle in the one-room shack with nothing to eat. So I would walk all day in the streets.”

One day, in a street market, a social worker came to him and told him about Timkatec, a PADF-supported center for at-risk youth. At Timkatec, street kids could find shelter, eat three meals a day and go to school. Shy at first, Baby reluctantly came to visit the center. He has now been living there for three years.

The center encourages the children to see their families, and Baby Auguste occasionally sees his mother and often visits with his older sister.

"If I never had found this place, I really don’t know what I would have become,” he says. "My life was without any direction and meaning. I might have really turned bad.”

Baby Auguste now has aspirations, thanks to living in the PADF-supported shelter. He wants to become a clothing designer. His true dream is to become a "great artist” and have a career as a singer.

Read and share more stories of Haiti's restaveks.