Cherline had lived through many hurricanes in this place that she used to called home, but Sandy was one of the worst — destroying many homes like hers in the Lebrun village of the Nippes Department of Haiti. When it rained, there was little sleep, and she had three siblings sharing this space with her.
“It was a really crazy experience, rainy nights, I could never have a good night sleep and not having any hope of things getting better, you feel like you have nothing to hold onto,” Cherline said then.
The HavServe field team was in Haiti to organize its annual summer camp and launch a summer feeding program for children and adolescents right before Hurricane Sandy struck the island in 2012. As their response expanded from meeting immediate needs of the children and adolescents to include long-term solutions for relief, the HavServe field team became aware of the living condition of a 17-year-old individual in our camp named Cherline.
Cherline had passed her primary school exams and was in the process of lobbying her secondary school to begin her studies, even though she had no money for school fees, supplies, or her uniform. Luckily, one of the community leaders recommended Cherline for financial and social support from HavServe. With her primary worries removed, she became one of her school’s top three students.
Then she consistently participated in a “work-study” program at the HavServe small library in the village. There, she was able to earn a monthly stipend by helping younger children with homework. This program is designed to teach young girls like Cherline job-training skills, leadership and soft skills needed to become essential and functioning members of society.
Over the past ten years, she has successfully graduated from high school, received training as a youth leader, and became a licensed kindergarten teacher as well as a mentor and role model for other vulnerable girls in her community.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, as new leaders like Cherline stepped up to support vulnerable children in their communities as schools closed, misinformation about the virus spread and families faced even greater financial and food insecurity. Under Cherline’s guidance, the group of women helped the HavServe field team print and share study materials with students, held small, socially-distanced study groups, and identified students at risk of hunger or abuse. Cherline also encouraged the women’s group to sew face masks to distribute to disadvantaged families, often alongside food supplies and other basic items.
When our CEO traveled to Haiti a few months ago and visited Cherline at her new home to thank her for her support to the community during the pandemic, she was overcome with happiness.
“Whenever I think of the transformation that transpired in my life I start to cry,” said Cherline while showcasing her new home and newborn baby to our CEO. “But when I cry now it is with happy tears, because I have a beautiful home, a caring husband, and a handsome baby boy and a good paying job to support my family while making a difference with children in my community! I am truly blessed! Thank you.”
With your support, we will continue to catalyze the power of the most vulnerable girls and young women to create the future they imagine — for themselves, for their communities, and for Haiti.