Rosemana, 12, lives in Savanne Carrée, in the department of Artibonite in Haiti. She has six brothers and four sisters. Most of them are younger than she is. ’’One of the things I do at home, is go food shopping for my mother at the market in town. . I have a lot of brothers and sisters, and there never is enough money to get all the things we need. In our area, there is often droughts, it doesn’t rain. And the crops fail and food is expensive. Just last year there was a virus that killed all the orange, grapefruit and lemon trees. Many people can’t afford to buy good food, and their children get sick and many even die. I do my best to make sure that I can always find a way to be sure to keep my younger brothers and sisters healthy and happy’’, says the little girl with a vibrant and positive attitude.
Her father died in March 2016 , which has put a tremendous additional stress on the family. He did small amount of sustainable farming and weaved baskets from bamboo, which he sold at the market. ”Life was difficult when my father was alive, but is even more difficult now. My brother has so much more responsibilities, and my mother also has more weight on her shoulders. I help everywhere I can’’, she explains.
The oldest brother (17) and Rosemana have taken over this small business, in addition to helping the mother take care of the rest of the family. ’’I make baskets with my brother. He gets bamboo and then I weave the bamboo into strong baskets that I sell. I also sell candies at my school. I sell them to my friends and then I collect the money later. This way I can help my mother with some extra money and pay for my school’’, the girl confess.
Rosemana helps with real love, dedication and caring. ’’My brothers and sisters need a lot of attention and care, and I love them. I know that they need good food to be strong and grow up healthy. They should also be clean and look good. I try my best to help them everywhere I can. I am the one who can do it, so I just do it.’’
Rosemana loves above all going to school. She is in the eighth grade. ’’I am number 3 in my class of 22 students. I dream to become a nurse one day, so that I can help small children in my community. My dream for Haiti is that one day everyone in Haiti can live in peace and security’’, she highlights with a huge smile.’’ I would suggest people not to have too many children. The country cannot feed all these mouths.’’
Rosemana’s family has been part of the nutrition program for a while now. Rosemana is the one taking her little brothers to the nutrition clinic ’’That clinic in town helps by giving us vitamins and food. I go to the clinic to get vitamin paste for my little brothers. I take this paste home and share it amongst them. I know it gives them more energy and is really good for them. They like the taste. That paste saves our lives.’’ The life-saving paste she is talking about is the ‘’plumpy’nut’’, a peanut based high calorie paste for therapeutic feeding.
Today among children under 5 years living in Haiti, 11 % are underweight (moderate and severe), 22% suffer from chronic malnutrition (moderate and severe) and 5% from acute malnutrition (moderate and severe). This may be due to the poverty of their family, to diseases or unfavourable feeding practices. If a child does not get sufficient nutrients during the first 1000 days of life, his brain and body will never fully develop, which will have consequences on school performance and later on income.
This story is part of the My Hero campaign, by UNICEF Haití.