Nadege is 32 years old and lives in Port-Au-Prince, Haiti with her three children and partner. She used to work as a street vendor, but now works for the apparel factory Pacific Sports Haiti in the SONAPI Industrial Park in Port-Au-Prince, where she makes approximately $265 gourdes per day, or about $5 USD. Nadege’s partner has not been able to find steady work, but he picks up odd jobs when he can, driving a truck or doing electrical work. When asked if she and her partner make enough to support her children, Nadege replies, “It’s not stable.”
“My dream was to finish school,” Nadege explains, “I wanted to be a nurse, but I didn’t reach that level.” She dropped out of school when she became pregnant at 17. “All nine months I hid in one place so that all the other students wouldn’t see me until I had the baby,” she adds.
Nadege had nine siblings growing up – five brothers and four sisters – and notes that she wants her life to be different than her mother’s, saying, “My mother had ten children. I don’t want to have ten.” “I choose to use [family planning] now so that I don’t have too many children, because my economic situation is hard,” Nadege adds. She is pregnant with her fourth child, but adds that this will be her last.
Despite having steady work, Nadege says the hardest thing about being a mom is paying for her children’s school fees and food. “What gives me the most fear and problems in life is that I don’t have money. And when I don’t have money, the school sends a paper home saying I owe them. I don’t know where I’m going to get that money to send [my kids] to school,” she explains.
Now, Nadege’s oldest daughter is 15 and about start 9th grade. She wants her daughter to become a doctor, but adds, “I want to send her to medical school, but the financial situation may not allow that, so I may end up sending her to do something more technical, like sewing.”
Nadege attributes all of her knowledge about family planning to the lunch-time healthcare course she participates in at Share Hope, explaining, “Before I just used to hear about [family planning] by word of mouth. I used to just buy it in the street, and I didn’t know I had to go to the doctor. But now it’s a completely different situation.” “Share Hope,” she adds, “has given us information and opportunity to learn, to understand, and to practice family planning.”
And the information about family planning she learned on the job has helped Nadege’s community as well. Family planning “changed my life, but it also changed my neighbor’s life as well,” she explains. “After I learned the [family planning] information, I also told my neighbors the information. They didn’t know about family planning either.” For example, Nadege shared that her neighbors would simply take one oral contraceptive pill before having sex, thinking it would prevent pregnancy. “But now I explain it to them and they change,” she says with a proud smile.
The one piece of advice Nadege says she would give girls in Haiti is not to get pregnant when she did, adding “I would tell them ‘don’t do it,’ because it was really difficult. Even if they have a partner, they should protect themselves with family planning and condoms.”