In fact, you have been tempted many times to leave, and make a greater living elsewhere. I mean why wouldn’t you? You’re brilliant, kind, empathic, and you know you can achieve anything you set your mind to. But instead, you decided to stay, to serve those in need, and actually make a difference in their lives. Despite the oh-so-many frustrations: no electricity, not being able to afford a car after bacc. + 7 to 13 years of studying, being disrespected in many ways in the practice of this oh-so-noble career you’ve chosen, you decided that this country you love more than anything (yea, you just can’t help it) needed you way more than anywhere else in the world.
So you stay. You wake up everyday, run after a ‘tap-tap’ in order to get to the hospital on time. If you’re late, you’ll likely get a sanction, which may imply getting another 30-hour shift added to those you’re already struggling to make through.
Sometimes, when your colleagues are going for a ‘chen janbe’ across from the hospital for lunch, you pretend you’re not very hungry. Why? Because you know the 25 gourdes you have in your pockets can barely pay for your trip back home. It’s not your fault if it’s been 4 months since you received the last payment of 5,000 gourdes allocated by the Ministry of Health. You can’t blame your parents either if you’re a 32 year-old professional still depending on them financially. Hey, at least they have the beautiful ‘Doctor of Medicine’ diploma they proudly exhibit in their living room.
“My daughter is a doctor, you know,” you overheard your mom saying to her old girlfriend the other day. But that pride has slowly turned into discouragement when she’s finally realized that her little “boutik” still needed to cover your daily expenses. She’s probably starting to regret having pushed you to choose that field of study, especially when she sees the neighbors’ daughter who studied for 3 years, and is now working as a secretary at the US embassy. After 5 years working there she was able to buy her parents a car, a second-hand one but a functional car still. She also got them that visa they’ve always dreamed of, and took them all on a trip to Miami, that the whole neighborhood still talks about.
The little ‘restavèk’ who’s lived with you for the past 10 years even told your mom the other night “Madanm, m’ tande Madan Jan t’ap pale sou nou wi. Li di se foli doktè, foli entelektyèl Cassandra te genyen. Gade pou depitan li desann bakaloreya, anyen li poko ka regle pou fanmi l’ non”.
But you still stay, hoping for the best, praying, finding joy in the many lives you’ve helped save with so little resources. You have to keep faith that it will get better one day to get courage to wake up every morning. And before that day comes, the society you’ve sacrificed your youth, dreams, and aspirations for, decides to thank you with a bullet to the head.
Nina Duperval, a fed-up citizen