Jean-Jimmy’s motivation to study comes from hardship. “Since I was little, I remember my father being sick,” he says. “We would look for a doctor and not find one.”Sometimes, the family would take his father, suffering from asthma and hypertension, from their home outside the city all the way to the General Hospital in Port-au-Prince, only to find that the doctors were on strike. “So he continued to suffer,” says Jean-Jimmy. His father died of a heart attack in 2006.
Because of his experiences growing up, Jean-Jimmy decided that he wanted to help meet Haiti’s great need for doctors. But he knew it wouldn’t be easy: his mother, who earned money selling millet in the market, became the sole bread-winner for the family of six children. Money was extremely tight.
Fortunately, Jean-Jimmy earned good grades, and it was after scoring at the top of his class in secondary school that he learned about HELP. He is now in his final year of medical studies at Notre Dame University. Jean-Jimmy has already completed clinical rotations in France and Belgium, where he says it was an amazing experience to work in such well-equipped hospitals. “It helped me not to be discouraged about Haitian medicine,” he says. “Because I saw that we have the basic knowledge, it’s just the technical means we lack. And I think in the future we’ll have that, too.” It is in large part because of HELP’s support of higher education that Jean-Jimmy is hopeful about Haiti’s future. “I think in 10 or 20 years we’re going to have a better Haiti,” he says. “Because there will be more minds developing the country.”