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Article updated: 1/18/2013 9:05 PM

Wheaton College hosts symposium, exhibit on child slavery in Haiti

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By LaTonya Taylor

Wheaton College's Humanitarian Disaster Institute (HDI), in partnership with the Restavek Freedom Foundation is hosting a symposium on Child Slavery and Trauma in Haiti at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 22 in the Phelps Room of the Todd M. Beamer Student Center.

Restavek is a form of modern-day slavery that persists in Haiti, affecting one in every 15 children -- around 300,000 in all. Typically born into poor rural families, restavek children are often given to relatives or strangers. In their new homes, they become domestic slaves, performing menial tasks for no pay.

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The symposium will include presentations by Dr. Jamie Aten and Dr. David Boan, co-directors of Wheaton's Humanitarian Disaster Institute, Joan Conn, executive director of Restavek Freedom Foundation, and Dr. Rev. Wismick Jean Charles, Chancellor of University of Notre Dame -- Port-au-Prince, Haiti.

In addition to the symposium an exhibit titled "Restavek: A Day in the Life" will be on display from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. in the connecting Fireside room. The exhibit is designed to shed light on the restavek system of child slavery in Haiti. It features video, large-scale visuals, audio and authentic Haitian articles, including a rigwaz whip still sold in markets today. It includes interactive stations that offer insight into the abuse, isolation and exhaustion typical of the restavek.

HDI is a college-wide interdisciplinary research center at Wheaton College dedicated to helping the vulnerable and underserved domestically and internationally. HDI is partnering with Restavek Freedom Foundation, Regent University's Child Trauma Institute, and local Haitian institutions to end the practice of restavek and heal the children affected by trauma.

Both restavek events take place in the lower level of the Beamer Center, located at 421 Chase Street in Wheaton. The exhibit is intended for an audience 12 years old and older. For more information, about the exhibit or the Center, call (630) 752-5104.

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