Ms. Ginette Elipha speaks passionately about her work as a community health nurse at St. Boniface Hospital. By memory, she rattles off the components of Ti Fwaye, the community health program she supervises. However, she frequently brings the conversation back to the lives of the mothers and children whom she serves. “Alferis Wanderline. She lives in Villa,” Ms. Ginette explains. “She is only three years old but she came to Ti Fwaye with an enlarged stomach, swollen feet, and red hair—indicators of malnutrition. Her health had been getting worse and worse. Ti Fwaye saved her life.”
At a Ti Fwaye session in Orangèr II, a locality about an hour motorcycle ride away from St. Boniface Hospital, Ms. Ginette supervises with enthusiasm. While local employees called “Monitors” are directly responsible for leading the session, she sings energetically with the group of mothers who are learning about good nutrition. They sing catchy songs about nutrition and sanitation while the children clap and dance gleefully. Hours later, both Ms. Ginette and the children can be heard humming the Ti Fwaye theme song to themselves.
Between songs, Ms. Ginette can be found helping teach mothers how to cook nutritional food from each of the three groups: food that gives strength, food that builds the body, and food that protects the body. She teaches the mothers how to purchase the right kinds of food to provide a healthy meal for a family of five. It’s possible to do that with only $0.50, she explains. Her excitement goes a long way towards creating a relaxed and enjoyable atmosphere. “Everybody is happy. We sing and dance and build community while sharing important knowledge for the health of the children,” she says.
SBHF’s scholarship program paid Ms. Ginette’s way through high school in Fond-des-Blancs and then nursing school in Port-au-Prince. She returned to Fond-des-Blancs to work for St. Boniface Hospital in 2011. Since then, she has been involved with a number of community health programs involving tuberculosis, malnutrition, and radio broadcasting of educational health information. Ms. Ginette’s work has undoubtedly improved the lives of thousands in the surrounding community, and St. Boniface Hospital has given her a unique opportunity to earn a living doing work that she loves.
Ms. Ginette’s work, which begins at 7:30 AM and can last until 6:30 PM each night, is her effort to improve the lives of all children in the Fond-des-Blancs community. Her own child gives her a unique and powerful perspective. “I have a young girl. She is three years old,” Ms. Ginette says. “Her father left, so I provide for her by myself. My little girl weighs 20 kilograms and doesn’t have the signs of malnutrition that I see in children every day. I do this work so that those children can recover and live healthy lives.”