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!
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.
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!