Working with Restavek Freedom to create a press release in response to Hurricane Matthew striking Haiti
Restavek Freedom has been one of the most effective organizations working in Haiti for close to a decade. The organization focuses namely on the Restavek issue– a complex practice in Haitian culture and history where children from rural families are often sent to live with other families as domestic laborers and are often subject to mistreatment and dehumanization. Many have called the practice modern day slavery.
For years, Restavek Freedom has excelled at advocacy work for these children, but their work became even more complicated after October 2016, when Hurricane Matthew struck. The Category 4 major hurricane struck the country’s southern peninsula in early October, destroying around 200,000 homes and putting over a million people at risk. The country’s vulnerable infrastructure raised concerns of cholera spread, a lack of clean water, and broken networks of transport and communication. Based on their experiences after the 2010 catastrophic earthquake, this disaster would likely put even more children at risk.
My work began when I was contacted by the organization's Chief Operating Officer to draft a press release in order to tell the story of what the organization had accomplished in their relief efforts so far and how others could support the work that remained.
I worked with Restavek Freedom's staff to gather information and figures about their work towards relief so far and began to draft the press release to tell their story in an engaging way.
Restavek Freedom’s network of supporters were also a great benefit to the organization’s relief efforts. Staff reported many emails from donors, churches, and volunteer teams looking for opportunities to help. Through donations and volunteered time, the organization has been successful at delivering 40,000 pounds of food and 1,000 relief packs for families, digging two wells of clean drinkiing water, and creating access to temporary shelter for hundreds of local families.
While Restavek Freedom has contributed significantly to local relief efforts, its established mission is focused on advocacy for children in Haiti who have been put at risk by child slavery. The term Restavek refers to the complex issue of modern-day child slavery where children are sent to families to serve as unpaid, frequently mistreated domestic laborers.
In less than a week, I was able to submit my press release to Restavek Freedom to be disseminated through the organization's media channels and other external outlets. Restavek Freedom's staff was thankful for the story to have at their dispersal. The organization continued to see expanded interest from concerned supporters looking for further opportunities to help.
As more time passed after the earthquake, the organization further established itself as a leader in relief efforts around Port Salut. The surrounding community was able to slowly regain their connection and networks with guidance provided by the nonprofit.