Near Pastor Sene’s home is an adjacent shanty town where many Haitian refugees squat in Dominican territory. The men women and children that “live” here are truly enduring subhuman conditions while seeking out a better life. Because the circumstances are so taxing, passing along children to traffickers becomes a tempting option to these displaced parents. Simply because he cares, Sene seeks to alleviate all degrees of adversity for his friends, even the ones that live in the neighboring town. The problems faced here are severe and coupled with eviction, deportation and death threats. Many times these refugee’s only defense is to flee for the woods in the dead of night. Living like this is stressful and when stress is high, decisions are hard to make and the quality of living is low. To Sene, this is a call to arms. His first service is to visit with the people and understand their specific needs, case by case. Sometimes he can give them advise on documentation to help. Often he assists them with basic medical care or helps finding newcomers work. Since Sene has been learning Spanish, he volunteers as the translator and mediator for Haitian neighbors that have disputes with local farmers or officials. For those with kids he welcomes them to free elementary school but even more frequently he will invite them to the church services he holds in their town at 4am. He provides this service with the hope of helping his new friends have a reason and a way to come together and to build value to their lives. The reason church is so early is because as soon as Sene is done preaching and praying with this congregation, he strolls 4.5 miles back to his home where he holds church services in his own squatter town. Sene is a true minister and he sacrifices much to help his neighbor. In all of his visiting, the service Sene never forgets to offer is to pray with the people. Sene wholeheartedly relies on God for his daily bread and what gives me hope for Haiti is that he is raising his young boys to follow and lift in his footsteps. I believe with influences and support and care and genuine love like this, there is a formidable foothold against the difficulties that inadvertently provide the conditions that lead to child trafficking. Sene and the ones that follow him, will help us completely rid these communities of child trafficking, from the inside out.
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