Ylomene Flamand grew up in a rural area two hours outside of Port-Au-Prince with eight siblings in a small house with no electricity or running water. “It was difficult [growing up],” she explains, “because my mother and father had no money. They were farmers working the land, and the major problem was finding food and money for schooling.” Affording food was a big challenge Ylomene shares, explaining, “We would sometimes go hungry. I was a merchant when I was in school, and I had to buy water and resell it in the streets just to be able to find food for myself.”
Ylomene started school but dropped out in the 9th grade because, as she explains, “I wasn’t the only child and my parents could not continue sending me to school. They couldn’t afford it.” She wanted to be a nurse, saying, “I love people and when I see people suffering I always want to be able to give them an injection or some pills or something to help them. I always wanted to be helping people. Just give me the opportunity and I’ll be back to school tomorrow or today.”
When asked if her mother had access to family planning, Ylomene shakes her head and says, “No,” adding, “family planning is so important. Look at the example of my parents. If they had family planning, they would have maybe four children instead of eight and they could have sent me to school. I could have been a philosopher.”
Now Ylomene has two children of her own, but explains that before having her first child, “I had no idea at all about how to avoid getting pregnant. It’s when I had to have the baby that I heard about family planning. I saw how difficult it was for me to keep my child and feed my child, and this is how I decided not to have another one soon.”
Ylomene shares that she isn’t planning to have more than two children because, as she explains, “Life is really hard despite the fact that I have work. The pay is not enough to really correctly take care of the children.” “Without family planning, I’d have ten [children] by now,” she adds. “I want my children to have a different life than mine, a different childhood that the one I had. I want my kids to be able to become people, real people, who can help their country and help themselves,” she adds with a smile.
Even with two children, Ylomene notes that affording food and other necessities is difficult: “Sometimes the kids go hungry and they are crying for food, but I don’t have the food. And sometimes I see other kids in the street and they are well dressed; mine do not have beautiful dresses and shoes.”
When asked what piece of advice she would give to other young women in Haiti, she says firmly, “Be on planning, constantly. That will help them limit the number of children they have because the more children you have the more poverty you live in.”
“If they had family planning, they would have maybe four children instead of eight and they could have sent me to school. I could have been a philosopher.”