Today, I met Rosette


Story and photo by Marie-Eve Bertrand, CARE Haiti
November 11, 2010

The sun is shining, dogs are barking and the wind is blowing. This could be a normal day in Gonaïves. But it's not. Streets are empty, kids are not in school and mothers are concerned.

As I was with a community volunteers team, we were training women on how to purify the water they sell with bleach that CARE is providing them. A woman showed up. Wearing a mask, she was scared to approach me, scared to touch anyone.

Our team then visited an area called Descoteaux. This part of Gonaïves was flooded by Hurricane Tomas a few days ago. Now mud and garbage are covering streets. We stopped at Rosette Noël's house situated in a zone where CARE's volunteers and staff have distributed aid. A little girl is looking at us. Suddenly, another one joins her, then a grandma, a dad, two teenagers and a mom. Rosette is the mother of many kids she tells me. Her family includes her sister, her brother, and many siblings. I tried to get an exact figure. I don't think she knew.

Rosette tells me that when Tomas struck, they did not have enough time to gather their belongings. I could tell this was true by looking at the clothes and miscelleous household items drying on the brick wall between the houses.

"There was mud everywhere," she says. "We sought refuge with our neighbors. In this neighbourhood, we take care of one another. But what concerns me now is that my niece was sick yesterday. And now it is my sister. They are resting in bed, and we give them rehydration salts and clean them. We do what we hear on the radio messages." CARE's public information campaign via radio instructing Haitians on how best avoid and prevent cholera has reached at least 200,000 people to date. I am glad Rosette has hear them.

When I asked her why she was not taking them to the hospital, she turns her head. She is concerned about the fact that the hospitals are already over capacity and that the staff does have the ability to take care of her loved ones.

"We know that some people were left on the streets because they were sick. I don't want that to happen to my family. We can take care of them. I am afraid that they will get more sick in the hospital," Rosette explains. "Family is everything."

Her youngest looks at me. She is gorgeous and smiling. Her eyes are full of life and joy. I just wish I could do something to help them. But they know what to do.

"CARE helped us a lot. They came here to tell us how to protect ourselves before Tomas, and then after [explaines how to help]avoid being sick. We received soap bars and aquatabs," Rosette says.

As I leave the house, they wave goodbye to me. The grandma tells me to take good care and to stay healthy. These people are generous, and I am so proud I got to meet them.