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PSI Brings Tennis Star Anna Kournikova to Haiti Bringing Hope and Assistance to Child Slaves
Date:3/4/2009

WASHINGTON, March 4 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Anna Kournikova has just returned from her first visit to Haiti, where she witnessed firsthand the combined effects of years of poverty, violence and natural disasters on the health of the local population.

(Photo: http://www.newscom.com/cgi-bin/prnh/20090304/DC78519 )

"It was completely and devastatingly humbling to experience it all," said Kournikova, following her visit. "This trip made a huge impact on my life, both mentally and emotionally."

The visit was part of an awareness-raising mission organized by PSI - a leading global health organization - and was focused on drawing attention to the innovative solutions available to some of the world's most complex health problems.

In what she described as one of the most moving moments of her trip, Kournikova met with a group of young girls who had been sold into domestic servitude by their parents, for a modest profit and a seemingly better future. These youth, known in Haiti as restaveks, work long hours, with little protection, and are dangerously vulnerable to sexual abuse and exploitation.

"One little 'restavek' girl was telling us about how her family had sold her to another family when she was 8 years old and that she does everything for that family," recounted Kournikova. "She gets them water from the well each day, walks their kids to school, washes the clothes, cleans the house. She's not allowed to attend school, not allowed to have any kind of life of her own and she's being abused sexually and physically."

Current estimates suggest that more than 300,000 restaveks are living in Haiti and that more than 75% of them are young girls. The World Bank reports that 1 in every 2 girls has been sexually abused, with the abuse often resulting in HIV inf
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SOURCE Population Services International
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