A program geared towards adolescents was recently initiated at our Deschapelles Library (Bibliothèque Communautaire ). Called “Gwo Desizion” or “Major Decisions,” it really is about making important life decisions. Participants meet in a group setting to discuss areas of concern about becoming adults including the challenges of sexual activity, unplanned pregnancies, and sexually transmitted diseases, plus the challenges of living in rural Haiti where opportunities are limited. The average lifetime birth occurrence for a Haitian woman is 2.8 births and starts at a young age. Unfortunately, this life event contributes to the generational cycle of poverty. The program attempts to break this cycle.
Other topics of discussion include the political situation in the country and the futures of youth in it, plus teaching youth respect for each other and their fellow Haitians. The program is science-based and culturally appropriate. Sessions are led by a trained local psychologist, a nurse from Hôpital Albert Schweitzer who works in community development, and other experts.
The program was originally geared towards girls, but now thanks to a grant from the Carlson Family Foundation, we are expanding the program to include boys and young men. Our goal is to reach 160 youth over the year. We believe that programs like “Major Decisions” engage, educate, and empower youth and ideally help develop citizens who will create a better future for Haiti by making decisions that expand their horizons rather than limiting them.