In Haiti, there is a proverb: fanm se poto mitan, ‘women are the pillar of society.’ Women of Haiti are viewed as the backbone of their families and communities; however, they also face many challenges, including remaining healthy enough and having the access to resources needed to avoid unwanted pregnancies, both of which may become barriers to attending school and receiving an education.
Hopital Albert Schweitzer Haiti (HAS), working with community partners like the Crosby Fund (a non-profit organization focused on education), strives to provide every girl with the access to general and reproductive healthcare information and options that she needs to remain in school.
Anderline DeRose, a 21-year-old student, attends the well-regarded Pelican School in HAS’ neighboring Verrettes through financial support from the Crosby Fund. Being able to attend this school has provided her with new opportunities and possibilities for her future. “I would like to study medicine,” she says. “I want to help my community; those who are sick and suffering, especially children.” Anderline recently completed a set of exams that will allow her to continue to one last year of schooling before beginning an eight-year journey to becoming a doctor.
Finances have not been Anderline’s only challenge in attaining an education. Recently, she came to HAS for care of some painful cysts. “Sometimes, they would cause me great pain. I was in so much pain that I would cry out, and felt like I couldn’t eat,” she remembers. However, through the surgical care provided at HAS, Anderline has been able to turn her focus back to her education. She returns to HAS every three months for check-ups, but has thus far remained healthy.
Being in good health is important to Anderline so that she can continue her studies. “If you are very sick and suffering, you can’t go to school. Because I can continue my schooling now, I can move on to university, and then find a job,” she says.
Often, girls also face challenges in avoiding unplanned pregnancies. “There are many girls here who aren’t able to go to school, and have to stay home and care for their children; many of them are 18 years old, and have three children,” Anderline reflects.
Access to the materials and education needed to make choices about reproductive health can be scarce in Haiti, where over 35%of women report lack of access to desired reproductive health materials. This is why reproductive health is a regard as a key service at HAS. Women and girls attend one-on-one family planning education sessions with a trained nurse and receive a wide variety of materials, all for the equivalent of $0.12.
With your help, HAS can continue to provide thousands of women and girls like Anderline with the healthcare they need to remain healthy and in school, and the tools they need to make choices about their reproductive health.