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With his degree in hand, Jean-Robert decided it was time to pay a visit to the woman with whom he used to live. "I said to her, 'We're going to have a talk.' I said, 'This time I'm going to talk. You listen,'" he says. "And I said, 'Do you remember when you removed your shoe, you hit me across the face? I still have the scar. Do you see it?' And then she started crying. And then I put my bachelor's degree in international affairs ... in front of her. I said, 'You always wanted me to be a shoeshine boy.' I said, 'You see, I'm not a shoeshine boy.' And then I walked out. And that was the last time I saw her."

Although he has moved on with his life, Jean-Robert says he doesn't think one can ever overcome being a child slave. "It's with you," he says. "Because I believe that your childhood is your foundation."

Now, Jean-Robert returns to Haiti to help rescue children living there as restavecs. To spread the word about their plight, Jean-Robert wrote a book called Restavec: From Haitian Slave Child to Middle-Class American and worked on a documentary about the subject. "I wanted to show this film all over the world so people would know that right next door to the United States we have 300,000 to 400,000 restavec children, children in domestic servitude, domestic slaves," he says.

Until things change in Haiti, Jean-Robert says telling young people about child slavery gives him hope. "All I can do is share their story. Write their story. Knock on doors," he says. "I have not found the right one, but I will keep on knocking."
FROM: A Special Report: The Little Boy Oprah Couldn't Forget
Published on February 09, 2007


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