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The Queen of My Self

Two more inspiring Creole Queens:

Esther Boucicault
HIV/AIDS Activist

Born in Saint-Marc in 1960, Boucicault was diagnosed as HIV positive in 1995. Following the AIDS death of her husband and her son, who was born HIV positive, she decided to dedicate herself to saving others from the same fate.

In December 1998 she was interviewed on a private TV station about her illness. This was the first time in Haiti that a person with HIV/AIDS had gone public in such a way. Her testimony provoked a scandal in Saint-Marc, and she endured the hostility of the families of both her first and second husband.

Undeterred by the scorn, Boucicault has established a foundation to work to prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS and provide medical and psychological aid to those carrying the virus.

Accompanied by health professionals, she tours Haitian towns giving information and advice to young people. She encourages the use of condoms, believing that even though this is contrary to Catholic religious morals, it is more important to speak frankly to adolescents about the dangers they face in a country where more than 5% of adults are HIV positive.

Following Boucicault’s example, others with HIV/AIDS have come into the open, and in 1999 a number of them got together to form the National Solidarity Association. Today, no anti-AIDS campaign takes place without them. Young and old come to hear them speak, and there is no longer the outrage that such public discussion once provoked.

“Things have changed a great deal,” she said of the decade since she disclosed her status. “For example, there was a survey in Haiti that showed that most people wouldn’t need to keep it a secret if a member of their family had HIV/AIDS. It’s no longer this super illness where the victim must be isolated from the rest of the world.”
 
Rose Anne Auguste
Nurse, Social Worker, Human Rights Activist

Marie Carmèle Rose-Anne Auguste  was born in 1963, in Jérémie, During the 1970s, she attended the Pressoir Jerome School in Jérémie, and later studied at Port-au-Prince’s Lucien Hibert College, where she received her baccalaureate in 1984. She went on to study at the national School of Nursing, getting her diploma in 1988, and while there she set up a nurses’ student union.

Auguste then worked for a variety of non-governmental organizations in central Haiti, but was in Port-au-Prince at the time of the 1991 military coup. She risked her personal safety to rescue patients at the general hospital when soldiers came to finish off those wounded while resisting the coup.

In 1992, with help from Partners in Health she founded the Women’s Health Clinic located in a heavily-populated hillside shantytown to the south of the capital. Originally only meant for women, it grew to treat more than 200 women, men, and children each day.

Auguste has also provided counseling for female victims of gang beatings and rape. In 1994, she received the Reebok Human Rights Award, which she later donated to Partners in Health in support of destitute women in Haiti.

Auguste remains outspoken about Haiti’s legacy of poverty and violence, reporting human rights abuses to international organizations and working to make the local healthcare system more responsive to victims of repression. She was one of 1000 women worldwide proposed for the Nobel Peace Price 2005.

I firmly believe that the overwhelming majority of women need to fight with determination against social inequalities.
– Rose Anne Auguste

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The Queen welcomes questions concerning all issues of interest to women in their mature years. Send your inquiries to thequeenofmyself@aol.com.

 

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