Carlisha’s story clearly demonstrates PieH’s engagement with its Haitian partners. Carlisha was five years old when PieH members met her living with her mother in a tent city in Port au Prince. Her mother was selling wares in the streets in order to support the two of them, but the money she made was not enough to feed them and pay for tuition, books, and uniform. Carlisha’s PieH scholarship started in 2013. She has now been in the program for six years and has done very well in school, often the top in her class.
When the tent city disbanded, Carlisha’s aunt found a small piece of land in the hills of a community known as Jerusalem 7, Bon Repos, outside of Port au Prince. They could acquire it for “squatter’s rights.” Carlisha and her mother moved to this land too. Since the move three years ago, they have been building a small home made from plastic, wood, and tin. They collect water from a well about a mile away. They have no electricity or plumbing in their home. Carlisha walks a very long way to get to and from school each day, but continues to work hard and do well. The last time team members saw Carlisha’s mother Guerlande, she told the team that on many days dozens of children stand outside the walls of the school, wishing they could go.
Carlisha was born with an extra pinky finger on each hand. The fingers never fully developed. They were not a problem until Carlisha got older. The extra fingers which were painful kept her from accomplishing certain tasks, such as braiding hair.
When teams make visits to Haiti, they often stay at a guest house and share meals with other visitors. During one visit, members shared the dinner table with a young Haitian they learned was in medical student in the United States. He was planning to study plastic surgery and move back to Haiti for a residency. When Carlisha’s extra fingers began to cause problems, the members remembered the young Haitian doctor and spent about a year searching for him, finding him in a Plastic Surgery Residency program at Hôpital Universitaire de Mirebalais in Mirebalais, Haiti, which is a two-hour rough drive from Port au Prince. The young intern agreed to perform the surgery to remove the extra fingers at no cost. After several failed attempts to transport Carlisha, including getting her to pre-op appointments, the mission was finally accomplished. The surgery was completed.
Partners in Education Haiti: We Go, Engage, Support, and Stay.