A devastating memoir about the shocking persistence of child slavery in Haiti.
Cadet (Restavec: From Haitian Slave to Middle-Class American, 1998) writes with the hard-earned authority, for he was a child slave in Haiti from the late 1950s to the early ’70s. When he was young, those in the city who were better off got their child labor from the country. Though the days of Papa Doc Duvalier’s brutal regime have ended, child labor continues. Cadet fought to make his way in the United States, and he recounts the demons and ignorance he had to confront to find education, serve in the military and take advantage of GI benefits to become a teacher. He writes of his work rescuing Haiti's child slaves, helping to educate them as a way to give back what was given to him. In Cadet’s view, the scars of childhood slavery leave their marks on minds as well as bodies torn by cow-hide whips and switches. The institution wounds everyone—slave and nonslave, adult and child—and the scars continue down through the culture; to this day, the threats of punishment and violence persist. Cadet sees the right to education for all as an affirmation of a society's commitment to its future. His journey of self-discovery was completed when he found the family from which he was taken so long ago.
A powerful contribution to the ongoing discussion about Haiti and the shortcomings of current approaches to aid and disaster relief in the aftermath of the massive earthquake.