Jean-Robert Cadet

Haitian children's rights advocate

Jean-Robert Cadet is the founder of the Jean R. Cadet Restavek Organization, a nonpartisan nonprofit organization dedicated to ending child slavery in Haiti. At the age of four, Cadet became a restavec—“given” to another Haitian family as a child servant—and remained a domestic servant until he was 15, when his owners immigrated to the United States. His owner subsequently expelled him from their household after discovering he was to attend school alongside their own children. Cadet was born in Haiti to a wealthy white father and an impoverished black mother. Emotionally, verbally, physically, and sexually abused by his masters, he was forced to work long hours and was often “’loaned” to neighbors and friends to work for them. The restavec system is still an institution of Haitian society, primarily due to poverty, overpopulation, lack of access to education, and political and societal acceptance of the practice. Cadet finished high school in the United States, where he joined the Army and earned a master’s degree in French literature. He is the author of two books, “Restavec: From Haitian Slave Child to Middle Class American,” one of the few books written by a survivor of contemporary slavery, and “My Stone of Hope: From Haitian Slave Child to Abolitionist.””

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