Empowering Women in Haiti
I follow the Half the Sky Movement on Facebook. Every day they post stories about women and girls from around the world. Sometimes these stories are heartbreaking, sometimes these stories are heartwarming, and sometimes they are both. Regardless, their publications have opened my eyes to the various realities that my sisters around the globe face.
With their help, I have come to realize that many women lead difficult lives and face uphill battles. Many women are subject to violence and abuse. Others are made to stay home while their brothers go to school, as the families do not have enough money to pay for each child’s education. Even more do not have access to employment opportunities. It is a heartbreaking reality, but there is hope that this cycle can end and that women can overcome adversity.
Recently, I found some of this hope in the group of first year female nursing students who are in an English course that I teach. One morning we had a speaking exercise in which I had them stand up, one-by-one, to answer the question, “Why do you want to be a nurse?” and, “Why did you decide to study here?” Their answers were expected, although also somewhat unexpected.
When I asked, “Why do you want to be a nurse?” the first young woman simply said, “I want to be a nurse because it is a good job.” I was curious about what that meant, but I didn’t ask any further questions. However, the fourth young woman I asked said the same thing. I decided to press a bit further. “Why is it a good job?” I asked. She struggled with that question and others in the class started to offer suggestions. Speaking to each other in Haitian Creole, her classmates suggested things like, “because you help people and it’s good to help people,” and “because it is an opportunity to make some money,” and, “because it is a job that will always need hard workers.”
Tears began to well up in my eyes as I started to grasp just how important this educational opportunity was for these women. It will not only change their lives but also the lives of their families, both now and in the future. As the United Nations notes, “Education is important for everyone, but it is especially significant for girls and women. This is true not only because education is an entry point to other opportunities, but also because the educational achievements of women can have ripple effects within the family and across generations. Investing in girls’ education is one of the most effective ways to reduce poverty.”
The National Spiritual Council of Churches of Haiti (CONASPEH), founded within the ideas of liberation theology, works hard to close the gap between the wealthy and the financially impoverished by providing opportunities for the financially impoverished to rise and flourish. The Karen School of Nursing is just one of many ways that they are achieving their goals. Further, when asked why they chose to get their education through CONASPEH, the group unanimously said, “Because it is the best school.” Not only is CONASPEH providing a leg up for these women, a route out of potential poverty for them and their families, but they are doing so by providing a high level of quality education for these women. That is certainly something to give God thanks for.
Thank you, God, for the many great blessings you bestow upon us. We recognize your goodness and love in our lives and the lives of others. Today, God, we pray a special blessing upon our sisters and brothers in Haiti. We pray especially for those women studying at CONASPEH’s nursing school. We pray that they may feel your presence and love surround them and that they may feel refreshed and renewed to continue their educational goals. We also pray, God, that steady, good employment may be found after their graduation. We ask that you might also lay a special blessing upon the professors in the nursing school and the staff at CONASPEH – that they would continue to seek your voice and guidance and continue to serve your children with love and passion. We know that you are great, God, and that your love endures forever. It is in that spirit we pray all of these things in your name. Amen.
Beth Guy serves is a Global Mission Intern and works with the National Spiritual Council of Churches in Haiti (CONASPEH).