By Jennifer Browning
After receiving the President’s Emergency Plan For AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) grant, Project Medishare staff started identifying vulnerable children that they could assist along the guidelines of the grant.
As one of five organizations in the Cross Haiti Alliance, Project Medishare received a three-year PEPFAR NPI grant in December 2008. Project Medishare has been focusing activities in the very remote community of Casse/Lahoye located in the commune of Thomonde.
Program objectives are to enable indigenous NGOs to develop their capacity and capability to deliver orphans and vulnerable children (OVC) services at the community level; provide care and support services for HIV/AIDS OVC’s; prevent HIV infection among adolescent and youths; and provide access to palliative care for people living with HIV/AIDS and affected households.
Project Medishare’s local staff has agreed to live in this remote area. The community is also mobilized and participating which has a positive impact on the community.
In July, Rosemerlin Pierre-Louis, a Project Medishare nurse and Coordinator for the PEPFAR program found 16-year-old Ninitte at a town event. She was severely thin, complaining of pain in her chest, and was in need of medical care. Merline decided to take charge and took her to the hospital in Cange where Ninite was diagnosed with tuberculosis.
“Doctor’s at Cange found that she had water in the lungs, and she had pain in her chest so she was really sick and in serious condition,” Rosemerlin said, “but they were able to help her.”
Ninitte improved and was able to leave the hospital seven months later in January.
But that wasn’t where Rosemerlin stopped with Ninitte’s care. Rosemerlin, who visited her in the hospital often, knew that Ninitte’s mother had passed away. When Ninette was able to leave the hospital, it would be Ninitte’s sister, Angeline, who would be primarily caring for her. Rosemerlin and her team continued to make sure Ninitte was improving.
“It was team work to work to help Ninitte continue to get better. I worked with the coordinator and the social worker,” Rosemerlin said. “I still come to visit her, and when I do visit I bring food and teach her older sister to cook for her, so that [Ninitte] eats healthy.”
Angeline said she is thankful of all that Rosemerlin has done for her sister and her family.
“It was very helpful to have her training in order to teach me how to cook healthy meals,” Angeline said. “Now I can help take care of my sister to help her continue to get better.”
Rosemerlin said nursing and taking care of others is her mission in life.
“It is a mission for me to find those who have nothing, and are in serious condition,” she said. “Ninitte is one of these people. Doing this work is part of what I believe in”
The Project Medishare nurse attended nursing school in la Cayes, and said helping her patients has always moved her.
“It was important for me to see patients get better and see them get back on their feet again,” Rosemerlin said. “I would do whatever I could to help my patients get better.”
At one point however, Rosemerlin said began to experience burn out, so she left the hospital and went to Port-au-Prince to study community health.
“I thought it would be better to be in an office,” she said, “because at the hospital I got too involved with the patients. “
But Rosemerline couldn’t stay away from the hospital, nor from the patients she cared about. A year ago, she found herself working for Project Medishare in Haiti’s Central Plateau.
“It is a calling for me to care for these patients,” Rosemerlin said.
Ninitte said that Rosemerlin is much more than a nurse to her.
“Rosemerlin today, for me, is like a mom, but even more,” Ninitte said. “Even if my mom was still alive she wouldn’t be able to do the things that Rosemerlin does to help me today. She is very special to me.”
**Laurene Leger contributed to this story.