A young woman in Haiti has begun her professional nursing training through the compassion and generosity of nurses in Pella and the surrounding area.

Ficoise Dehilaine is 25 years old and graduated from secondary school in Pignon, Haiti, last June. Even though her family is extremely poor, her father and mother thought it was important for her to attend a good school and managed to scrape enough together to pay her tuition. Her father grows crops for his family and sells a bit of surplus to others. Her mother gathers rocks from the nearby mountain and breaks them up to make gravel to sell.

Ficoise Dehilaine in front of her parent's house.

Ficoise (Fe swhaz) is the oldest of four siblings who live in a humble three-room home where they take turns sleeping on mattresses or choose to sleep outdoors or on the cement floor. Ficoise and her family attend a Baptist church in Pignon.

Both her mother and father are part of a volunteer group in Pignon that cleans the yard at the hospital and cuts weeds and grass at the airstrip outside of town. They have joyfully done this for a number of years, often singing as they work. In their desire to make Pignon a better community, they do this for no pay. Ficoise began her three-year nursing program on October 10 at Institute Superior for Sciences, Nursing, and Technical Studies in Port au Prince. As part of her scholarship, she is given a housing and food allowance. She will share a small room with one or two other nursing students.

Ficoise was chosen because she applied to the nursing school in Port au Prince but did not have the money to attend. The school referred her to HASP (Haitian Advance Scholarship Program run by Hospital Bienfaisance in Pignon). Because her parents have volunteered for years at the hospital and because Ficoise is a good student, the HASP committee awarded her a full scholarship. Ficoise and her family have signed a contract to give back two years of working as a nurse to Hospital Bienfaisance for each year she attends school. So while being paid her salary as a nurse, she will be expected to work in the hospital for six years. Ficoise shared she wanted to be a nurse in order to help the people of her community and has expressed her deep thanks to the nurses who are supporting her education.

The Nurses for Nurses initiative began as a way for those in the Nursing Department at Pella Regional Health Center to celebrate National Nurses Week earlier this year. Through various fundraising efforts, they have paid the first year of Ficoise’s tuition and are working toward the second year. They view sponsoring a Haitian nurse as a chance to give back and help improve health care in another country. Many Hands for Haiti is please to work together with the area nurses in this exciting opportunity.