The Freedom Village: Celebrating a dream come to life
We are thrilled to report that the construction of the Freedom Village is 99% complete. We have started hiring staff and are currently putting the finishing touches on the facility.
We will soon open the doors to girls ages 6 to 16 so they can heal, learn, and ultimately get to a place where they can help serve and care for others in Haiti.
It is estimated that there are over 300,000 restavek children in Haiti. These children are sold or given away by their parents because they simply have no resources to keep them alive. Restavek children are almost always forced to do hard physical work, are denied education and are physically abused.
When LiveDifferent’s Benjamin Cole Brown heard about this system of slavery, he vowed to do something about it, and together with our Haitian partners, created the idea for the Freedom Village in 2013. In 2015, with the help of our partners in Winnipeg, MB, the property was purchased. Tragically one year later, Cole died in a plane crash at 36 years old, but his legacy continues to be honoured by LiveDifferent and so many others. The construction began on the Freedom Village in 2018.
The Freedom Village will help bring young girls out of the restavek system and give them freedom, hope, education and an opportunity for a healthy future. As we come to the end of our construction journey for the Freedom Village, let’s reflect on how far we have come.
Creating a home
Working with our local partner, ASEEDH, not only do we include and employ local workers for our projects, but we also network with local leaders, government officials, community members and other organizations who may be working in the area, so that we can assure that all efforts and resources are maximized completely.
Through many struggles – such as significant currency fluctuations, fights for the opportunity of employment, the riots and unrest that followed the assassination of the Haitian president, as well as a lack of fuel throughout Haiti – we were able to reach this incredible milestone.
“I already imagine this protected space filled with kindness and laughter of little girls who are finally happy.”
Michelle Guillaume, Manager of Operations in Haiti.
The Freedom Village is divided into two sections: The Village and the Guest House. The majority of the property will provide a beautiful space for the girls to heal in a family-style setting. The Guest House is a separate section of the property that will generate income to support the girls’ programming and rehabilitation.
The Village will offer five family-style housing units with a total capacity of 28 girls and 5 house mothers. A counselling room and infirmary are constructed near the base of the site and a covered dining area is nestled on the roof.
The Guest House offers eight suites with a total capacity of 24 people. It also includes a staff apartment, lounge area, office, reception desk, storage depot, conference room, parking and a staff room. Most suites have a generous roof deck space and top-level suites are suitable for families with children.
The Freedom Village was designed with sustainability and efficiency in mind.
Rainwater from the roofs is collected and stored for usage as greywater throughout the facility. A solar power system (with diesel generator backup), a laundry room and a commercial kitchen are part of what is needed for the care and comfort of the children and guests.
Security is a top priority here, with the Freedom Village surrounded by large walls and armed guards 24/7. It’s important to note the care and love put into every last detail by the builders – and that includes the construction of the walls. They hand-hammered every stone flat for the wall, and in between each stone, they added smaller stones to add character, providing a more Haitian touch. The beauty of the architecture is truly breathtaking!
The creation of the Freedom Village has been a long and arduous journey, but it stands as a testament to the determination and perseverance of LiveDifferent and our partners.
Not only is this project going to provide safe housing for vulnerable young girls, but it is a model of sustainability that shows how thoughtful design can help us honour our commitment to creating a positive, long-term impact in the communities we serve. We are proud to be able to offer this incredible opportunity and look forward to seeing what these young girls will accomplish in their new home.
If you’d like to learn more about how you can support this cause, join LoveLegacy.