Bonjou, koman ou ye?” I found myself saying in my severely limited Creole to a striking and well dressed woman as I walked through town.
“Ça va! Parlez-vous français?” she responded with a huge smile.
“Do you speak English?”
Her name is Gerthy Mezille. She’s 62 and owns the College of Nursing for Nina Theronier, a nursing school located on the outskirts of Côteaux. She recently opened the school in her hometown to improve health care education in her community.
“I want to honor my mother, and it’s my dream,” she told me.
“My mother died when I was 11 years old. No one could help her. She was bleeding from complications after giving birth, and my father had to drive four hours to take her to a clinic. She did not come home. It is still a strong memory.”
We talked for a long while, my new friend and I. I told her why I’m in her hometown.
“En-Reca! You are bringing electricity to Côteaux! My school will have more students!”
I didn’t think that smile could get bigger, or more beautiful.
Soon after her mother died, Gerthy left Côteaux and eventually ended up with family members in Montreal. She grew up there, went to university, and studied to be a nurse. Like many other English-speaking Haitians I have met on this trip, she returned home to help the community she left and to share her knowledge.
Gerthy invited us to visit her school. The classroom was dark, the walls were bare and the computer and TV screens were black. And there were only 10 students. I didn’t see much equipment, just a hospital bed where the students were learning how to change sheets and make the bed. It was hard for me to imagine them becoming nurses.
Gerthy is passionate and determined to make her dream come true because her mother would not have died had there been nurses to help her.
Read the entire series of dispatches from Haiti on NRECA International and the people it serves.
This story was originally published on RE Magazine.