Denise grew up in a rural area outside of Port-Au-Prince, Haiti with five sisters and one brother. Her mother had ten children total, but three of them died. Denise left her parents in middle school to live with her aunt in Port-Au-Prince in order to attend school. She went on to graduate from high school, a significant achievement in Haiti where only 1 in 5 children move on from elementary school to secondary school, and 40 percent of Haitians are illiterate.
But as she was preparing to continue her education and study accounting, she found out she was pregnant. “I was graduated and about to go to more school … then I got pregnant,” Denise shared. She dropped out of school and began working, explaining “I couldn’t lean on my parents to watch my baby. It was my responsibility.”
After her first baby, Denise decided to start using family planning, explaining, “After the first one, I said, ‘Lord, I only want two kids, and I don’t want a second one until I get this one in school.’ So I started to use family planning.” When asked why she wants two children, Denise says simply, “Because of my economic situation.” She adds, “Even if I’m working and my husband is working, we’re still not making a lot of money … If I didn’t have family planning, I would have maybe four kids by now, and I wouldn’t be able to feed them, to house them, anything.”
Now Denise works as a manager at Pacific Sports, a partner apparel company of Share Hope. She is also a peer educator in the HERhealth workplace wellness program where she helps educate other workers about health and well-being. Denise explains that one of the biggest misconceptions she has helped her coworkers overcome is how to safely obtain birth control pills: “They would then go out without a consultation from the doctor and get [pills] on their own. You have to go to a hospital and have a doctor prescribe it to you, so that you know exactly what you’re doing.”
Family planning information is particularly important according to Denise, because, “there are women who have another kid when their child can’t even walk yet. They get pregnant again.” Family planning education allows her coworkers to “control their lives of having children,” she adds.
Denise concludes by pointing out that because of family planning her life is different from her mother’s and her children’s lives will be different from hers. “I had one child eight years ago, and now I having another one and I’m going to stop, so my life is already very different than my mother’s. If she didn’t have this many kids, she could have gone even further,” Denise explains. As for her children, Denise wants a better life for them, adding, “Although I myself did not finish school, I want my children to finish their education and get their masters’, even if I don’t have any money.”
“Although I myself did not finish school, I want my children to finish their education and get their masters’, even if I don’t have any money.”