Global Mamas: Haiti

Monday, April 23, 2012

We’re profiling one mother from every country on the planet. (Current tally: 14 down, 178 countries to go!)

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We’ve long said that it does’t matter if you’re a mother of 7-month-old or a 7-year-old, you have something valuable to share and we want to hear it. So, meet Fabienne Colimon. She’s a proud single mother of now-grown daughter living and “thriving” in Haiti.

Here’s her story …

Photo by Fabienne Colimon

Life before baby …
I grew up in a very traditional and conventional family. Growing up, I needed to ask for permission to go everywhere.  I participated in many activities.  I went to the beach, disco, movies, visited friends, and of course, in Haiti Mardi Gras was a must.

My ideas about motherhood …
My dream was to find a “Prince Charming.”  He and I would fall in love, and he would (as is the custom in our culture) request my hand. Then we would have a lovely home and two little girls.

But these ideas absolutely changed. Hopes and dreams aside, I became involved with a married man and got pregnant. That changed everything.  Needless to say, our relationship was complex. Upon learning of my pregnancy, he asked me to get an abortion. I refused and asked him to get out of our lives. Single mother hood was something I knew would be difficult, but I also knew I would and could thrive and survive. Aborting my baby was something I knew I would regret.

Then came baby …
Being a single mother in Haiti has traditionally been taboo. The expectation is that dream: Girl meets Prince. Prince marries girl. They build a beautiful home and have beautiful children. And everyone lives happily ever after.

When my father found out I was pregnant  he cried and asked me why I had done this to him.  I imagine that he cried for the disappointment and fear of what my life and my daughter’s life would be like.  However, Nastassia was born and her birth was a joy and blessing for our family.  She was (and still is) the adored child. My parents doted on her.

The most challenging part of motherhood …
Single motherhood overall is challenging. There is no doubt about that. The challenges are financial. The challenges are emotional. I am certain that my daughter has experienced difficulty because a single mother raised her … which is painful to think about.

While I have adored, loved and raised my child in the best way possible, I cannot take the place of a father. I never asked him to leave his wife and never asked him to contribute. I feel very strongly that I should not have had to ask him to face his responsibilities to our child in the same way he did to his three other children.

On balancing work and life …
I worked until the day before I gave birth. My maternity leave lasted for about 1.5 months. Once I returned to work, I was able to have a nanny care for my daughter. Every morning on my way to work, I would drop the nanny and my daughter off at my parents for the day. As with most mothers, it was difficult to leave her, but I had to earn a living to care for her. We all do what we have to do.

The best part about raising a child in Haiti …
Family is the center of life here. My siblings have children, and my daughter has had the benefit of being raised with her many cousins. We had family dinners on Saturday and Sunday, a tradition that continues.  Community is alive and thriving in Haiti. The Hillary Clinton, phrase, “it takes a village to raise a child” is the truth in Haiti. Extended family is very involved in helping raise children.

I feel blessed to have raised my daughter in Haiti. We have a rich and beautiful culture and I made sure that she was able to take advantage of it all. Nastassia has had the very best that Haiti has to offer and her foundation is solid. However, Haiti does not have a public assistance program. I’m glad that we were fortunate enough that we did not lack for anything.

Best piece of advice I ever heard …
After the birth of my daughter, my father told me that my priority was now my daughter and that my life had changed. At that moment I became and remain to this day devoted to my daughter’s well-being.

If we could jump into the DeLorean and race back in time …
I would tell myself not to worry. In spite of any difficulties that lie ahead, all will be well.

I have raised an intelligent, talented, well-adjusted, and beautiful young woman. She is well on her way to be being successful. She is my legacy and my greatest accomplishment.  Not all women are meant to be mothers. I was. Motherhood is a gift I have been given and one which I cherish.

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We’ve got over 170 countries to go (yeah, whoa.). So if you would like to nominate a mother who is living and raising a family abroad to be featured on MMM’s Global Mamas series, do let us know! Drop a line to: get[dot]msmack[at]gmail[dot]com.

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18 Comments
  • 1
    Michelle says:

    An absolutely beautiful and inspiring story from my neighbours to the south. I’m from The Bahamas and can relate.

    • 1.1
      Ms. Mary Mack says:

      Thanks, Michelle! (By the way, we don’t have a Bahamas Mama yet. Any interest?)

  • 2
    Genevieve says:

    I have known Fabienne for years. She is like an aunt to me. Her and my mom have been best friends forever however, I have never heard the whole story. I always knew my “Auntie” is a courageous woman but this post really touched my heart. Fab, you are an inspiration to me! Love you!

  • 3

    I am moved, although I know the story it bought me to tears. I am so proud of you big sister. Fabie you are an incredible woman.I admire your courage, I know your story will inspire the readers. What a blessing to have a daughter like Natoutou and vice a versa. May God continue to BLESS you both.

    • 3.1
      Josseline Colimon Fethiere says:

      Congratulations Fabienne for sharing publicly your beautiful story..
      I am the eldest sister of Fabienne and the Godmother of Nastassia..We are a very large family 6 girls and 2 boys, so you understand with all of us Fabienne has never been by herself and Nastassia has never been alone..My niece is an asset for the family, she is intelligent, talented and very pretty..She already has her licence in Education and is working now for her master..
      I knew Fabienne’s story, we have lived it with her and I have never heard her complaining about anything..GOD loves the happy heart (Proverbs)..She is a strong believer and she shared her faith in God with her daughter who is a blessings not only for her mother but also for the whole family..God has is own plan for us..We have to be thankful for all the situations of our LIFE..
      Fabienne I am proud of you, you are an example for others..Natou I love you and I already see and feel the success of your life..Put your trust in GOD..Stay positive like Papi Dantes and your Godmother..No matter what everything is going to be alright

      • 3.1.1
        jessy Adrien says:

        I am proud of you Fabienne
        you take your responsabilities and today we have a well educated and very mature girl
        The best part of this story we love her that contributes a lot to her education and her future
        May god bless you
        your sister jessy

    • 3.2

      WOW! Comments are overwhelming. I am glad you decided to share your story.
      Much Love

  • 4
    Joel says:

    My aunt Fabienne is one of the bravest, kindest and generous people I have ever come across. Anytime you need something, she is the first one to offer help. I have been living and working in Haiti for a year and a half and she has welcomed me into her home with open arms. After spending LONG weeks in Central Haiti, one of the things I look forward to is the comfort of her home and company. Her own success and positive attitude has rubbed off on her daughter (my little cousin) Nastassia who continues to make the everyone proud. Thank you for sharing your story with us Tatie!

  • 5
    Fabienne says:

    You are an inspiration to all of us.
    God Bless you and Nastassia always.
    Amitié
    Fifa

  • 6
    Dra says:

    This story moved me. I bet it was a challenge for Fabienne to face society in Haiti but mostly my grand parents when she took this decision. However It was all forgotten when Nastassia came and had a whole village to welcome and love her…(lol trust me we are a large bunch). Great Job Tatie. I am proud of you!!!

    • 6.1
      Genevieve Jean-Jacques says:

      Fabienne,May God always bless you and Nastassia. God loves you and Jean-Jacques family loves you too. Genevieve

  • 7
    Stephanie says:

    Tatie Faby, I cried when i read your story today. I was by that time too young to understand what you were going thrue.
    By becoming a mother today, i can truly understand the sacrificies you have made to raise Natou ( providing for her, staying your self, kipping your head up…). Natou is a beautiful woman inside and out. You did a GREAT job.
    once again “chapeau”.
    Ta fieulle qui t aime, Nanie

  • 8

    Fabienne, je suis emue et tres touchee par ton histoire et ton courage. Merci de la partager avec nous. Je te souhaite ainsi qu’a ta tres jolie et chanceuse Natastasia tout le meilleur du monde. Que Dieu vous benisse et vous garde toutes les deux.

    Affections de ta cousine
    Michaelle

  • 9
    Magaly says:

    Your story is honest and interesting. You told it with your heart. I remember thinking then “she is so brave.” You know what “you’re the best single mother I know.” You raised a wonderful, beautiful and smart citizen. I can’t believe it has been that long. I am very proud of you.
    Love you!

  • 10
    Y-ann says:

    Tatie Fabie, you’re story touched my heart and I am so proud of you for sharing it with the world. Very often people tell me that Me and You have similar personalities and by reading your words today, I recognized the determination and devotion that I will put in loving our family and my kids. Love you and Natou so so Much!

  • 11
    elisabeth woolley says:

    Tu as laisse parle ton coeur et c’est en lisant ton histoire que j’ai compris que cela n’a pas ete facile. Mais la bonne nouvelle c’est que la famille est un pilier et c’est bon de souligner que meme si au debut c’etait un peu la perturbation il faut le dire vu que c’etait nouveau mais la naissance de Natou nous a fait tout oublier. Je vous adodre toutes et je suis fiere de vous savoir dans ma famille.

  • 12
    Ms. Mary Mack says:

    The love in these comments… wow. Fabienne, you should feel proud. So glad you shared your wonderful story with us on MMM.

  • 13
    Amaris says:

    Tatie Fabi, what a BEAUTIFUL story!!! God has always been by your side and He continues to always bless you and Nastassia. Your story is a huge inspiration to women of all ages out in the world. XOXO