Rosmelie

Posted Sep 27, 2010 by 8 Comments

My translator Denis and I walked down the dusty road to Chambrun, passing a few goats picking their way through the thorny scrub.  The sun was high, and lizards darted across the road looking for shade.

After stepping through a flimsy fence made of cacti and barbed wire, Denis and I began asking villagers where we could find baby Rosmelie and her mother.  We were directed to a nearby building made of wood and mud, covered with a rusty metal roof.

Before entering the house, I took a look around.  A bunch of strange objects were hanging from a tree in the front yard – gourds strapped into miniature chairs, bottles with small bones at the bottom, tightly wrapped bundles of fabric… all voodoo religious symbols.

After stepping through the open doorway, it took my eyes a second to adjust to the darkness inside.  The room was empty except for a large blue barrel and a single chair.

In the chair sat 18 year old Roseline Isnadin, holding her baby Rosmelie.

I walked up to them, crouched down, and spoke softly to the baby.  Her alert, beautiful eyes stared up at me.   As I reached down and held her hand, I could feel her tiny fingers close around mine.

Roseline and Rosmelie, sitting alone in the home of her uncle.

Normally, this would be nothing out of the ordinary.  But for Rosmelie, it was nothing short of a miracle…

Intervention

You see, Rosmelie is a malnourished, six month old baby.  She weighs 2.6 kg.  Healthy six month olds weigh between 6 and 10 kg.  A few weeks ago, she was hours away from death.  Irregular heartbeat, weakened immune system, failure to thrive… 

If it wasn’t for the intervention of the Nehemiah Vision Ministries medical staff, there is no question that Rosmelie would now be dead.

It’s a fantastic story of the hope and life NVM is bringing to the village of Chambrun, but it also highlights some of the many problems faced by the ministry as they attempt to fulfill their vision.  Bringing holistic restoration to this community will not be an easy road…

How?

You may remember that I highlighted the story of Rosmelie in our first video blog a couple of weeks ago.  If you haven’t seen it yet, be sure to check it out here.

Roseline with one of NVM’s volunteer doctors, Kacie Davis.

In the video, I mentioned the fact that Rosmelie’s mother, Roseline, initially did not want to keep the baby.  She didn’t feed her, didn’t care for her, and, when Rosmelie was taken to a hospital in Port-au-Prince, she made no effort to get her baby back again.

Like many of you, when I first heard this, my reaction was a mixture of indignation and confusion.  “How could a mother simply walk away from her newborn baby?”

But the more I have heard about the story of Roseline, the more I have come to understand her lack of concern for her baby.  Obviously, it’s never acceptable for a mother to abandon her children, but knowing the things that face young mothers in Chambrun, her actions come as much less of a surprise.

Alone

First of all, when Roseline was pregnant with Rosmelie, she was 17 years old.  She was a teenager.  Could you imagine how scary it would be to have a baby at that age?  At 17, most girls have barely even begun to establish their own identity, much less developed the maternal maturity they’ll need to raise a child.

And yet, teenage pregnancies abound in Chambrun.  When Pastor Pierre and his wife first visited the village, they saw several 13 year old girls breastfeeding.

On top of that, Roseline has no older family members to teach her how to care for the baby.  No mother of her own, no grandmother… She is all alone.

When Aubree and Kacie (two of NVM’s volunteer nurses) visited Roseline recently, they had to teach her how to rock and soothe her baby when she cries.  Before they taught her to do this, presumably, she simply sat with a screaming baby on her lap.  Alone and miserable, she had plenty of opportunities to despair.

Tiny Rosmelie contracted a case of herpes on the side of her mouth. It caused her so much pain that she needed to be fed through a tube. With little access to consistent pediatric care, things like this often become quite serious in Haiti.

Power

But there are other forces at play beyond simply Roseline’s age and family situation.

The father of baby Rosmelie, for example, is a real shady character.  The son of a witch-doctor in Chambrun, he uses his father’s influence as a way to sleep with many young women in the village.  Since the birth of Rosmelie, he has impregnated two other young girls in Chambrun, not to mention the many that came before her.

As I was talking to Pastor Pierre about this, he said “I don’t know what the girls see in him.  He’s not good looking.  He’s not wealthy.”

“But he has power,” I suggested.

“Yes.  He has power,” he agreed.

In the midst of such pervasive poverty, people will go to great lengths to have a little influence or to secure a few meals.  Because of this, vultures like this slimeball can prey on the weak, get what they want and leave with few consequences. 

What would it like to be all alone?

Because of his self-indulgence, teenage mothers like Roseline are left to fend for themselves.  Does he help provide for Roseline now that she’s borne him a child?

Of course not…

Influences

Finally, there are the many psychological influences playing on Roseline that are a bit harder to quantify.

For example, try to imagine what it would be like to bring a child into a world when you simply do not have enough food for her, much less for yourself.  How long would you let your child live in anguish before wondering if there was a way to end her suffering?

We cannot prove this, but what if Roseline is suffering from postpartum depression?  From what I understand, this relatively common condition leads mothers to feel hopeless even in the midst of abundance.  But what if this hopelessness was paired with a very real possibility that your baby will not survive?

On top of everything, there is voodoo.  Roseline comes from a part of Chambrun that is heavily influenced by this syncretistic religion.  To pick up donated food for her baby, she would have to visit Nehemiah Vision Ministries, a Christian organization.  From her perspective, this could jeopardize the one thing she believes will lead her to prosperity… her religion.

One of the many children in Chambrun who now has a future because of Nehemiah Vision Ministries!

Are any of these influences excuses for her to abandon her child?  Of course not.  But they do begin to explain perhaps a bit of why she would act in such a shocking and seemingly callus way.

A Chance

The good news in all of this is that things are beginning to change for Roseline.  Since NVM has stepped into her life, Roseline has begun to take initiative in feeding Rosmelie.  After visiting her home every other day for several weeks, NVM’s nurses have given her confidence that she actually can care for her baby.

And in just a few years, it’s not a stretch to imagine young Rosmelie, healthy and vibrant, sitting among her classmates in NVM’s primary school.  It’s not difficult anymore to imagine her growing up with an education her mother could have only dreamed of. 

Because of the work of Nehemiah Vision Ministries, Rosmelie has a chance…

Enjoy this post? Get future updates sent to you for free! Join by email or RSS

Next Steps
    • Nehemiah Vision Ministries has an incredible child sponsorship program. Would you consider spending just $40 a month to give a child like Rosmelie a chance?
    • Consider visiting Chambrun yourself! NVM has many short term trips coming up with space available. If you’re interested in hearing more, click here.
    • NVM also has a feeding program that provides hot meals for children every day. For just $15 a month, you can change the life of a child in Haiti. Click here for more information.
    • Pray for the village of Chambrun. As you can see, there are many issues to overcome before true change can come to that community.
    Next Steps

About the Author: Barry is the founder and Executive Director of World Next Door. A storyteller, traveller and giant nerd, he lives to compel suburban Americans to get engaged with social justice and find their place in God's kingdom revolution. His ultimate dream is to adopt a pet monkey named Kevin.

More posts by Follow Barry on Twitter


Comments

  1. joe b said... 

    Reply

    September 27th, 2010 at 10:15 am  

    Love has no language barrier. Kacie and Aubrey continue to show Christ’s love to the people of Haiti and it has no choice but to change people.

    I love the God I serve! :)

    jb

  2. Kevin said... 

    Reply

    September 27th, 2010 at 10:38 am  

    What a wonderful message of hope and love.
    Thank you for sharing how God is still working. Where many people see despair, there is still hope through the love of Christ, when we are obedient to His calling. Thank you to everyone at World Next Door and NVM for your dedication to His call. One life at a time; yet it means the whole world to the “one”.

  3. Mike McD said... 

    Reply

    September 27th, 2010 at 6:03 pm  

    I praise our LORD and all those who have answered the call to serve. What blessing to read about hope & love in a desperate world. Keep up the good work NVM. I want to say many THANKS to World Next Door for sharing.

  4. Jim M said... 

    Reply

    September 27th, 2010 at 10:09 pm  

    What an amazing story….period.

  5. Matt H said... 

    Reply

    September 27th, 2010 at 10:19 pm  

    Such stories make it difficult to sit on our hands and not jump on a plane and find ways to help.
    Great story…

  6. Amy King said... 

    Reply

    September 29th, 2010 at 6:41 pm  

    BEAUTIFUL photos!!!!

  7. Jennifer said... 

    Reply

    September 30th, 2010 at 9:56 pm  

    Thank you for this article and all the others. It is reassuring to see you treat Roseline’s situation with as much respect as her infant’s. Women around the world often find themselves in terrible situations with no support or respect simply because of their gender. I recently read – and would encourage anyone to read a book called ‘Half the Sky’ by Sheryl WuDunn and Nicholas Kristof. It shows the scope of the situation with concrete every day actions we can take to help. Thank you for taking the time to shine a light on the realities for Roseline and Rosmelie. Keep up the excellent writing.

  8. Heather said... 

    Reply

    March 31st, 2011 at 6:20 pm  

    My heart goes out to this young woman and those that are experiencing the same situation all over the world. It is hard to break a cycle with out someone giving them the tools needed to make a change. I am encouraged by the ministry and their steps of teaching her “basic life skills”.

    Barry, thanks for sharing the story and providing realistic ways for others to help extend God’s love and hope to the broken!

Leave a Reply