Child Hero in Haiti- Djolanda from Jacmel

Djolanda from Jacmel, the apprentice sewer who dreams to become a nurse

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Djolanda is 11 years-old. She lives with her mother and her two brothers. Since her violent father left home, the girl is concerned for her mother and feels she has a role to play to help provide for the family. Some people believe Djolanda is a hero, do you think she is?

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’’My mother left my father because he treated her very badly. My father set the kitchen on fire, and almost killed my brother. And that’s when she told him he couldn’t stay anymore’’, explains Djolanda, 11 years-old.

Her father left when she was very young. Her mother raised the girl and her brothers on her own, on a very tight budget.

Djolanda matured very quickly through witnessing her mother’s struggles for years. She is concerned for her mother and feels that she must learn to help provide for the family. Every day she goes to school, giving her best to be the best.’’ My mother has her own business. She sell things outside the school. This way she can pay for my education. I want to study nursing. If my mother gets sick, I can take care of her.’’

Meanwhile, she found a local association which teaches sewing classes for adults, and signed up. ’’If my mother had a problem and couldn’t help me anymore, I decided to learn sewing. To take care of myself in the future.’’

djolandaEvery evening after school, Djolanda is learning dressmaking, surrounded by women in their 40s and 50s. She has been enrolled in the course for several months now and already made a number of dresses, including her school uniforms. ’’I made and outfit. My mother gave me the material. When I know I did something difficult, it gives me strength, and makes me happy’’, she says.

The girl has two dreams. She aspires to save enough money to build a house for her mother. “My mom is the only one who takes care of us. I am worried about her health. There is a lot of diseases around here’’. She also wants to become a nurse to help people who are sick. “When I become a nurse, I am going to build a school to help kids that can’t afford an education. This way, I can help the community’’, she adds.

Her message to all the children in the world is selfless “I would encourage them to go to school and would give them the advice, that if they study a profession, they should concentrate on how they can help others.’’

UNICEF Haiti

This post is also available in: French