Nadia lives in Port-Au-Prince, Haiti with her 21-year-old son and works at the apparel factory Pacific Sports Haiti. She became pregnant with her son when she was 20 years old and dropped out of school. “I was in school, my mom was paying for me to go to school, but then I fell in love with my boyfriend, and I didn’t know anything about family planning or about planning your life. Then I got pregnant. I didn’t know about condoms,” she explains. Because she didn’t know how to prevent pregnancy, she didn’t realize she was pregnant until she was four months into her pregnancy: “It was when my mom saw that I was getting bigger – I was really skinny – It was after that that I went to the hospital and they did a test and they said I was pregnant. I started to cry …. I thought my life was going to end. I could not go to school anymore; my parents told me they weren’t going to pay for my school anymore.”
After dropping out of school, Nadia and her mom took turns working and taking care of the baby in order to make enough money to make ends meet: “My mom went to work and other people went to school, so there was no one to watch the baby. My mom said I had to stay and take care of the baby. After a while … my mom lost her job, and I had to start working at the factory so I could take care of my mom.”
Nadia explains that it was only after she had her son that she learned about family planning, saying, “I didn’t know anything. It was after I had my kid that I learned. I had a cousin around my age who went with me to a clinic across the street from me.”
Now Nadia not only knows about family planning and has used it for many years, she also teaches others, including coworkers, neighbors and her own son. “Now I learned how to protect my life, to not to get pregnant. This is why I’m happy that I’ve learned about family planning, so I can protect my family,” she adds with a smile. Nadia used family planning – the Depo Provera shot – so that, as she explained, “my boyfriend, we can decide together when we want to have children. We can plan our lives in good health.”
At Pacifc Sports Haiti, Nadia is a proud peer educator with the HERhealth program Share Hope is implementing, explaining, “On an average day I work the line and give the information to my coworkers or sometimes my coworkers come to me … whatever information I learn I always spread it out to other people.”
Nadia’s information sharing includes her son as well: “He told me he had a girlfriend, so I told him about family planning. It was so she doesn’t get pregnant. He would not be able to go to school.” “I sometimes buy a box of condoms, and I leave them for him. And I’ll go into the box and then I won’t see them, and I say, ‘Christopher, did you use the condoms?’ ‘No, mom!’ … But I don’t say anything because I know,” she says with a smile.
Finally, Nadia shares family planning information with girls in her neighborhood, who she explains sometimes turn to unsafe abortions when they have unintended pregnancies. “When girls are pregnant and their parents don’t know, they have a pill that helps them to abort …. They sit on a bucket and their friends are telling them to ‘push, push.’ There are some of them that actually die when getting an abortion; and some that get pregnant and don’t tell their parents, and by the time they get to the hospital they die,” Nadia says somberly. “You can tell a kid not to do it – you’re not there…they’re going to do it! They’re not going to listen,” she adds. Nadia does her best to share the reproductive health information she has learned, saying, “I give them advice on family planning, about how to not have too many children and to use family planning so they can live in good health.”
“You can tell a kid not to do it – you’re not there…they’re going to do it! They’re not going to listen.”