3 ways LETS growth prevents fractured families in Haiti
Neil Jean Louis, Haitian Director of LETS, stands expectantly at the front of the pavilion with his flip chart at his side. A table nearby contains a simple box of beaded bracelets — beaded bracelets that could become a crucial lifeline for families. The heavy Caribbean air barely stirs, bringing in the aroma of the foliage nearby, and the brilliance of the sunlight against the ground promises more heat to come. 135 women and girls, alongside their men, sit attentively on wooden benches facing the instructor. These daughters, sisters, mothers and grandmothers are about to learn, many for the very first time, some of the intricate mysteries of the female cycle.
LETS is expanding to new communities in Haiti, impacting families and developing the local economy as it grows. In partnership with Many Hands for Haiti and The First One Thousand Days Project, LETS is extending its reach to the men and women of Pignon, Haiti. This three-month initiative involves instruction at the classroom level and mentorship in the home for adults and youth alike. The LETS curriculum of essential fertility education includes a focus on healthy minds, bodies, and souls, supporting families at the most foundational level.
The LETS mission is to help parents and children stay together in Haiti. Here are three ways LETS is preventing fractured families and bringing hope:
1 – Face-to-face fertility education leads to intact families
In Haiti, where hunger and child mortality rates are high, many parents are engaged in a struggle to support their families economically. Welfare programs and primary education in the country are under-developed, leaving parents with the sole responsibility to provide food, clothing, and education for their children. No social services are available in case of a family crisis, and many children simply go without. In desperation, parents send their young children away to live with extended family or even to live with strangers in orphanages. The Haitian population of 11.5 million people has 30,000 children living in orphanages, and 80% of these children were placed by their parents themselves. Away from their parents, these youth are unprotected and exposed to a variety of abuses, including human trafficking.
LETS is changing these realities for as many families as possible. These mothers and fathers desire to support their children, but feel they have few choices when it comes to family size and timing. Fearless fertility education empowers parents to understand the menstrual cycle and begin tracking it for themselves. The Standard Days birth control method presented by LETS is up to 95% effective. However, the education must be coupled with communication and planning between partners, which is why LETS teaches men and women side-by-side. This essential fertility education can change the shape of parenting and childhood, not just in Haiti but throughout the world.
2 – Employment at the local level leads to intact families
A major barrier to sustainable families is underemployment. That’s why the LETS model is engineered to employ as many people as possible from within the communities served. On the administrative level, area directors, translators and other specialists provide structural support. On the educational level, local instructors receive training and are well-positioned to take this information to their neighbors and associates, into the homes and institutions of the community.
Much of the work LETS achieves is centered around the Lunar Essentials Tracking Bracelet, a tool used to help partners track their fertility cycle. These bracelets feature colorful beads and a movable charm to differentiate fertile days from infertile days. The LETS bracelets are hand-crafted by artisans in each community. The beautiful beads are made from recycled paper, regional clays, or grown from indigenous plants. Each step of the sourcing and manufacturing process provides jobs and bolsters local economies.
3 – Collaboration with on-the-ground leadership increases impact
LETS is keenly interested in providing transformational education to as many families as possible. Accordingly, the LETS team partners with leadership in each community, using the voice and reach of local pastors, educators, officials, and humanitarians to amplify the message. The LETS movement is growing rapidly in Haiti as these leaders recognize the value of the program and mobilize to empower those within their reach.
Back in the pavilion, Neil Jean Louis wraps up the question and answer portion of the LETS fertility course. He closes the discussion by distributing fertility tracking bracelets to 135 girls and women. That’s 135 families, newly armed with the knowledge and tools necessary to plan for their children’s futures with renewed hope.