From Steve Werlin, CLM Regional Director:

Yesterday we celebrated a long, beautiful graduation for 347 successful CLM families from southern Mirebalais. It was, mainly, a very joyous occasion.

But my joy was missing something. Last Thursday I got the news that Guilène, one of our graduates, had passed away. She leaves her two children, the younger of whom was born just after their father died.

She had been sick on and off for a few months. She, her mother Chimène, who is also a CLM member, and their case manager, Philistin Nerlande, worked hard to get her medical care. She was visiting a Cuban hospital in Mirebalais regularly. Recently, she had seemed to be improving.

I had written about Guilène and her son Jovensonne several times over the last months because they impressed me with their ingenuity and their devotion to each other. Theirs was a model partnership.

I had spoken to Chimène on Monday, and she had told me that she didn’t have the heart for graduation. But I had asked to to come anyway, and she did. We asked for a moment of silence to honor all five members who passed away while we were with this group, but it was very difficult to read Guilène’s name. When I returned to Chimène’s house this morning, we talked quietly for awhile. She stood next to me as I sat drinking her strong, sweet coffee. 

She turned to a visiting neighbor and boasted of the way I had been crying as I read her daughter’s name. Then she gave me a pat on the head, and started weeping again herself. 

Guilène had worked diligently and shrewdly over 18 months, and she had developed a good plan for her next steps.

Guinya, the little girl, is already living with an aunt in Port au Prince. I don’t know when I might see her again. Chimène is convinced by her surviving daughter’s devotion to Guilène’s girl, so I’ll try not to worry. Jovensonne is scheduled to move in with his paternal grandfather in Labastille, not far from where he lived with his mom. I hope I’m able to stay in touch.