This International Women’s Day (#IWD2020), we celebrate the achievements of women and call for a more gender balanced world. In honor of IWD2020, we want to share a conversation with Fredelyne.
Recently, Heartline’s Clinic Director, KJ (Beth) Johnson sat down with Fredelyne. Fredelyne is a registered nurse working at the Heartline Maternity Center and recently became a mother herself. Recognizing that every woman has a story to tell, we felt that Fredelyne’s voice would be a great addition to the conversation surrounding International Women’s Day.
What does it mean to be a woman in Haiti?
Oh! Being a woman in Haiti means so many things. So many many things. You feel proud if you are a woman in Haiti. If you have children you are everything for those children and that gives you a sense of pride. So many women in Haiti are strong and that means, even in the middle of so many difficulties, you can live and care for your children. It’s important to be strong for your family and for your children if you’re a woman in Haiti. If you are strong and steady, your children and family will be okay.
What privileges or challenges do you face as a woman in Haiti?
As a woman in Haiti, you’re a complete woman. If you are raised in Haiti, you can live anywhere. In Haiti, you must live through very difficult social, economical, and political situations. This gives you the ability to live through just about anything. You have the ability to live in other countries, because you have known what it means to live in much more difficult circumstances. You understand the importance of life if you’ve lived through all the hardships and difficulties of Haiti and you’ll see, you are strong.
Taking care of your family everyday is a challenge. Sometimes women don’t have anyone to help them. Their husbands or boyfriends have left and they don’t have a lot of support, but they still do anything and everything they can to live and provide a good life for their family.
Which women in your life have inspired you?
My mother…my mother is a strong woman. I would call my mother a saint. My mother never judges. She gives so much love to her children. I would love to be the mother to my child that my mother is to me.
Which things, concerning women, do you feel need more attention in Haiti?
Violence against women. I’ve never experienced it, but so many women experience violence in Haiti. Often women are responsible for everything – caring for the children, cleaning, cooking, and making money. Women are the ones caring for everyone and sometimes, their husbands or boyfriends still beat them.
What made you want to provide healthcare for women?
A lot of things. When I started as a nurse, I wanted to work in pediatric care. I really loved children. Early on in my career, I was working in the rural northwest part of Haiti and I saw so much there. I started seeing women die in childbirth. I’ll never forget, I saw a woman who came for a prenatal visit one morning. Later that day, after she arrived home, she started bleeding. When she returned, her family brought her to me, carrying her on a door, because there weren’t any ambulances available. She had already lost a lot of blood. We didn’t have an operating room at the hospital where I worked, so we called everyone we could think of to drive her to the nearest hospital with an OR. We never found a car to drive her, so we put her on a moto. Before the next hospital could get her to the operating room, she died. That was such a painful experience. I will always carry that woman with me. It was after that experience I realized I needed to start caring for women.
What do you think needs to change to give women power to make decisions about their health?
They need to know they are important and are the central pillar for both their families and this country. They need to believe in themselves. If women could believe in themselves they wouldn’t defer to men all the time…especially regarding decisions about their health. We need to continue providing women with education that empowers them and helps them believe they are the central pillars to their family and their country. Women are the ones carrying babies and giving birth to life! We need to help them believe they are strong!
Will you tell me your birth story?
When I started having contractions, it was a Thursday night. I was watching TV and resting in my bedroom by myself. While I was watching TV, I didn’t really believe I was having contractions. They started to get a bit stronger, but I didn’t want anyone to know just yet. My mom was in town for the birth and she was playing cards with my husband in the next room. When they finished playing cards they came to check on me and could tell I was having contractions. I told them I was fine and that I wasn’t having contractions, but they knew I was.
I got up and started walking around the house. The contractions started to get more intense and were coming about every three minutes. Mom asked what we should do. I said I wanted to wait to go to the maternity center, because I didn’t want to go too early. It was raining and we were right in the middle of “peyi lok,” so everyone else wanted to go in case it was impossible to get through roadblocks in the morning. There was so much water on the road from all the rain. We had to turn around a few times to take a different route because of all the flooding. There were roadblocks up everywhere and people would climb out of the car and get all wet from the flooding to move road blocks out the way so we could get through. It was a really miserable ride and I was having painful contractions the whole time.
When we finally arrived at the maternity center, Islande checked me and I was 1cm. I was in a lot of pain and didn’t know if I would make it to 10cm. I labored through the night and everyone on the staff was there to support me. I was in a lot of pain, but I was motivated to see my baby.
Because my baby’s head wasn’t in a great position, I stopped progressing and decided I wanted to be transported for a cesarean. It was really strange at first. A doctor was checking and another person just walked in the room while I was on the table. I thought to myself, “that wouldn’t happen at our maternity center.”
Finally, I was in the operating room. When the baby was born, they said, “What did the ultrasound say you were having?” I responded, “a girl.” They told me he was a boy, but I didn’t care at all. I was glad he was there and I love him so so much.
Everyone gave me so much love during postpartum – my mom, husband, and the midwives. I was so grateful for all the love and care.
Is there anything else you’d like to add?
I hope we can continue to help women in Haiti. Women experience so much oppression here and the work we do is so important. I know it’s important, I feel it in my spirit.
We see that you believe this work is important. You bring so much joy to the maternity center.
I feel a lot of joy when I’m at work. I’m so proud of the way the maternity center supports women and I’m grateful to be a part of it.
On this International Women’s Day, we honor the work Fredelyne does at home, at Heartline, and in her culture. Her daily efforts are building a brighter future.
Today, let us encourage one another to continue working for a more gender balanced world – where women have equal opportunities and rights. #EachforEqual
Will you share with us about an inspiring woman you know and how she’s creating a better world for all? We can’t wait to read your comments!