Author Archives: sgluter16

“Women For Haiti’s Future” Club Week 2 Recap

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The volunteers that were here this past week

It was another great week in a beautiful country! There were some very interesting volunteers here this week from Richmond, Michigan and Las Vegas. I really enjoyed hanging out with them. We went out to dinner one night which was a very interesting experience. We ate some very yummy french fries, however, which was a nice break from the rice and beans. I also went for a long (and tiring) run with two of the volunteers, Dr. Alice and Dr. Casey. It was nice to have some extra company.

The girls continue to open up more and more. While it took them some extra time to understand effective communication and what I meant by good and bad character, they seemed to really retain the information and enjoy the various lessons this week. This week was filled with lots of skits, which, to my surprise, the girls were very willing to participate in. There are a few girls at both the orphanage and in Rivage that have some serious acting potential. It continues to be interesting comparing the two different teaching environments. The girls at the orphanage are very smart and comprehend the information much quicker than the girls in Rivage.

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They have become more and more attentive with every lesson–they’ve even started taking notes. They also ask AMAZING questions on the anonymous question slips. A few examples include:

If I kiss a boy who has HIV can I get HIV?

Is it okay to have sex before I have my period?

Why are some boys nice and soft at first and then become aggressive?

Why do some people not use condoms?

Is it bad to have sex with more than one boy?

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Some of the girls’ descriptions of good and bad character.

It is very clear that these girls are thinking about their futures and striving to make the best decisions. Sometimes they ask questions that I don’t even know a definite answer to. I try to give the most objective opinion possible, especially since Haitian culture can be very sensitive, but it has been difficult to navigate the fine line between not saying enough and overstepping my boundaries. My time at the Orphanage was really
meaningful this past week, and I learn something new about every girl each lesson based on her participation in different conversations and activities.

 

Rivage is very different, but in its own special way. The girls in Rivage do not pick up information as quickly, so we spend a lot more time on every conversation reiterating the important information. When they do understand, however, they do a good job applying the various lessons in activities and skits. They also have a lot of heart and a very wide variety of different personalities. They get distracted pretty easily, but they do seem to care. One or two of the older girls try to act “too cool” sometimes, but they keep coming back so they must at least like the curriculum, whether they show it or not. The younger girls are the more attentive ones, and they take notes and participate a lot. There are some sassy girls, some shy girls, some very smart girls, some nice, innocent girls, and some rebellious girls. Each one of them is unique and all of their personalities greatly add to the curriculum. Furthermore, girls in Rivage are known for getting pregnant at young ages, so this curriculum is crucial for them. We started a new rule that says every girl has to give me, Isabelle, and Oxanne a hug before they leave. Those girls give some of the best, most comforting hugs ever. Some Americans really need to take lessons from them. Furthermore, the girls in Rivage¬†started writing a song about the curriculum. They are not finished, but they sang it for me at the end of the last lesson. It was a very special moment. Seeing how much of themselves these girls have put into the curriculum means a lot. They sang about what they’ve learned and how they will be leaders. I can’t wait to hear the finished product.

We have completed 6 lessons and have 6 to go! It is crazy to think that my time here is already halfway over. Monday marks the transition to more health related lessons, so it will be interesting to see how the girls respond to talking about more embarrassing topics like condoms and periods. I am excited to see how it goes!

“Women for Haiti’s Future” Club Continues

Teaching at the girls orphanage

Teaching at the girls orphanage

It has been almost a week since the rest of the Global Health Fellows headed back to Norfolk, and although it was sad to see them leave I am settling in to the house and continuing to make progress teaching my curriculum! Over the weekend I started teaching the curriculum at the girls branch of the Maison Fortunè orphanage, and it has been interesting to compare the success of the curriculum in two very contrasting environments. The girls at the orphanage know each other very well, so the icebreaking activities were minimal. While it is great that they are comfortable around one another, it has also led to some distractions during lessons. Overall, however, they have been very receptive to the information and seem very eager to learn!

Teaching in Rivage

Teaching in Rivage

Today I headed back to Rivage to teach the fourth lesson. I was INCREDIBLY impressed by the girls today. They were much more willing to volunteer in discussions and activities. Furthermore, they did not shy away from uncomfortable topics like sex. It has been amazing to watch their confidence grow so much in only a few classes. During the beginning of the lesson we had the opportunity to reflect on our last lesson, which focused on decision making. The girls seem to have retained the information really well, giving great examples of different good and bad decisions they made over the past couple days. I hope that they continue to be conscious about the decisions they are making! I went into the lesson today skeptical of how it would go. I did not know whether the girls would be willing to participate in the different skits that I planned. However, not only did they participate, they went above and beyond the prompts and my expectations. It was awesome to see. We talked about forming healing relationships, and I asked the girls to identify any harmful relationships they are in or used to be in. I had to push them to share their experiences, but after a little while some girls mentioned that they stood up for themselves when boys tried to force them into having sex. Oxanne (the Haitian woman I am co-teaching with) chimed in, saying she saw one of the girls being pressured into having sex earlier this week by the river. Instead of giving in, the girl said no she was not ready and walked away from the boy to join the rest of her friends. Based on this and other examples, It is obvious that the curriculum has already influenced the girls to make better decisions for themselves, and I can’t wait for them to continue to learn more.

Two of the girls, Cadet Ydonise and Fleura Danilove, showing their contagious personalities

Two of the girls, Cadet Ydonise and Fleura Danilove, showing their contagious personalities

With Oxanne and her Grandson Alexander

With Oxanne and her Grandson Alexander

The parents have also seemed to notice changes in their daughters’ behavior. They all love the curriculum so far and they asked Oxanne if I could create a curriculum for teenage boys as well. I am really considering that possibility and hope to look more into a boy’s curriculum after this summer. For now, however, I am focusing my attention on improving the women’s curriculum. I have already determined a few different ways that the curriculum can be improved, and I have been marking changes as the lessons continue. Oxanne and Isabelle (my translator and possibly future teacher of the curriculum) have been great teachers and mentors for the girls throughout each and every lesson. At the end of every lesson we ask the girls to write down questions on blank sheets of paper. They do not write their names on these sheets as the questions are intended to be anonymous. The girls have been asking questions that are way beyond my expectations. It is very clear that the girls are thinking about important concepts and contemplating what is best for their future. It makes me incredibly happy to work with such an amazing group of young women who have so much to offer and are capable of being influential leaders for Haiti’s future. While I am sad that two weeks of my time here has already passed, I look forward to what the next three weeks have in store!

Fun moto ride with Isabelle!

Fun moto ride with Isabelle!