Orphaned Voices Unheard: Part 1
It is an all too common story all over the world: orphans not receiving the proper aid and assistance, ending up lost in the system, physically and emotionally abused; their voices unheard. These are stories we hear frequently, but more often than not we become jaded and see them as statistics, and we take their stories for granted. Ruth Auguste, author of the book ‘The Children of Injustice’ would like to change that.
Her book1 tells the story of her childhood, displaying the stark truth of orphaned children in Haiti. In an interview with Kurama Magazine, she tells us a little bit more about her own experiences growing up in Haiti.
When we think of Haiti most of us remember the earthquake that had such a great impact on the country. Almost instantly Haiti was on the map: journalists from all over were flying over to report on the disaster, the USA and other countries were organizing telethons, and charity foundations were popping up like mushrooms. Now, two years further on it is still unclear how the relief aid has helped the country.
Haitian author Ruth Auguste
Kurama Magazine: We know how the world has seen Haiti, but how do you see Haiti?
Ruth Auguste: We Haitians know how to come together in hard times and we will get through this. The earthquake was devastating but now Haiti has captivated the world’s attention and we are ready to show them all the beauty our country has to offer… All Haitians need to be working toward helping the country move forward. Haitians need to accept that they need to change their ways because without a renewing of the mind, a fresh and fair system will not have the opportunity to take place.
Auguste hopes her story will help Haitian women and children (Photo by Garrett Crawford)
Kurama Magazine: Tell us about growing up in Haiti.
Ruth Auguste: I was born and raised in Bel-Air, Port-au-Prince, Haiti. I grew up witnessing violence in my household, and I suffered extensive abuses in all possible forms committed by my stepfather. As an orphan in Haiti I knew hunger, thirst, and anger… I didn’t see my place or how I was ever going to fit into society; the justice system and the society had failed to protect me throughout my life in Haiti.
KM: You now live in Canada. Have you been to Haiti lately?
RA: Yes; I live in Canada, however, Haiti occupies a very special place in my heart and always will. I frequently travel between the two. I was there last September 2011 and am currently planning to return sometime [soon].
Proceeds from Auguste's novel will go towards helping Haitian children (Photo by Marcia Willson)
KM: Your book talks about how the justice system in Haiti fails to provide the proper assistance to orphans. When did you think of writing a book based on your own experiences?
RA: I want people to feel ashamed that they are willing to let my story repeat itself over and over again and still not care. Putting this story on paper wasn’t an easy decision. I knew how hard it would be to write about my mother’s difficult life, as well as my own struggles. The power of words always fascinated me… I was never only interested, I was inspired. I was inspired by the power that I held when I picked up my pen and decided to let the pain flow through the ink and onto the paper.
Writing this book didn’t only help me express my feelings about the horrors that I had experienced; it helped me heal from within. I have seen so much in my life and I have the power to pass on the lessons I’ve learned… the power to prevent children and women from having to go through the same pain that my mother and I have gone through, in fact we all do… Our stories were not new stories; sadly, stories just like ours are playing out all over Haiti and all across the world over and over, every minute of every day. Still these stories are going unheard.
There are many ways people can help to rebuild the lives of those affected by abuse. They can invest in programs, and raise awareness about issues related to women and children. I am advocating for an elimination of street life for children in Haiti… [so they can be] rehabilitated, stabilized and educated to become responsible citizens. All proceeds from ‘The Children of Injustice’ will go toward programs for affected children in Haiti.
To be continued in Part 2 of Melissa Stamper’s interview with Ruth Auguste next week.
1 ‘The Children of Injustice’ is currently on sale on Amazon; the French edition will be available this Fall.