Stanila is an incredible young woman who has beat the odds! She has dealt with the loss of both parents, the sadness of being separated from her family and the hardship of living in a miserable and insecure situation, yet she remains passionate and dedicated to her dreams. Not only is she realizing her own goals, as a youth mapper for IDEJEN and volunteer at GREDEV center in Nazon, she is helping other youth get their lives on track.
Stanila, now twenty years old, has been on her own for over ten years. Her mother died after being ill for a long time and her father died in an accident when she was a young girl. Originally from a poor family in Jeremie, Stanila had no choice but to go and live with a neighbour in
Port-au-Prince who simply provided her with a place to sleep. In secret, she took an eskont (a private loan) to pay for school. Stanila explained that if the jealous neighbour, with whom she lives, knew she was going to school she would kick her out. The neighbour, unable to support her own children to go to school, cannot bear that Stanila is so successful. For many years Stanila secretly attended school pretending that she was going to visit friends or to the market during the day. When the neighbour found out that she was studying she threatened to throw her out, and ever since Stanila has been living in an uncomfortable and insecure situation. She has persevered, continues to study, and more recently has been volunteering as an administrative assistant at GREDEV center.
She wakes up at four o’clock in the morning, does her chores, irons her clothes and leaves the house before six AM. In the mornings she spends time on the street trying to create activities with youth, volunteering at the center, and finding quiet places to study. At one o’clock each day she goes to an adult friend’s house to eat and then goes to school from two thirty until eight o’clock in the evening. By the time she is finished with school and arrives back at the place where she is living, it is after nine in the evening and everyone is already sleeping. She can sneak in and go to bed.
During her school breaks, Stanila finds work to do that can help her to pay back the eskont. The work that she does at GREDEV, and the stipend that they offer, has helped her tremendously. She became connected with the center when a friend, Junior, invited her to join the youth mapping team. Stanila, her mapping partner and the community’s agent liaison Isnel Pierreval, successfully completed all components of the youth mapping exercise and had a lot of fun running focus groups with the out-of-school youth in the center. As an administrative assistant volunteer, Stanila provides people with information over the telephone, organizes seminars, keeps the youth updated about special activities, and works on the center’s recycling and community clean-up project.
Her younger brother and sister still live with her grandmother in Jeremie, and although she misses them and her hometown, especially Jeremie’s famous comparets (a kind of baked-good, like a muffin), she is making a life for herself in
Port-au-Prince and feels honoured to be a part of the project. The formation and training she has received as a youth mapper is valuable to Stanila and she says that she never imagined she could learn so much. She feels proud to wear her IDEJEN t-shirt and for everyone to know that she is part of such a great project. Through her involvement she has made friends who can really understand her and feels supported in her studies and work.
Her goal is to finish her education and study business and organizational management/ administration so that she can work hard and have a home for herself. Then, she will be able to live peacefully. But Stanila’s plan doesn’t end there. She wants to continue working with children and youth, showing them they have hope for the future. One day, when she has lots of experience, she plans to return to Jeremie to give seminars for youth from her home town about how they can change their lives by getting involved and focusing on their goals.