Carmelle Voltaire Memorial Center for Education and Family Planning


carmelle and jed logoSister Carmelle Voltaire was a member of the Franciscan Order who gave her life in service to the Haitian people.  She worked in rural Haiti providing health care and the love of Christ to the people whose lives she touched.  Sr. Carmelle died of liver cancer at the young age of 49.  However, countless people’s lives were touched with the message of Christ’s love for them during her short life.


Sister Carmelle Voltaire was a member of the Franciscan Order who gave her life in service to the Haitian people.  She worked in rural Haiti providing health care and the love of Christ to the people whose lives she touched.  Sr. Carmelle died of liver cancer at the young age of 49.  However, countless people’s lives were touched with the message of Christ’s love for them during her short life.

Our vision is to establish a facility which would carry on the work that our beloved Sr. began through provision of safe and effective health care to the women of Croix Des Bouquet.

Vision Statement:

The female population of the Croix Des Bouquet catchment area will have access to education and resources which will allow them to be able to make the best choices for them about their own health care including but not limited to pregnancy and safe and effective contraception.

 Mission Statement:

In order to achieve our vision, the Carmelle Voltaire Center for the Women’s and Children’s Health has the following three fold mission:

  • To educate the women in the Croix Des Bouquet catchment area on reproductive health
  • To provide safe and effective medical care for women of child bearing age
  • To allow the women of the Croix Des Bouquet area the ability to safely and effectively plan their pregnancies

Definition of need

carmelle center frontIt is well-documented that family planning leads to healthier and happier communities, improved GDPs and country productivity, and decreased maternal and infant mortality and morbidity. Improved family planning is a major initiative of several agencies including: the US Federal Government, The World Health Organization, The United Nations, and the MSPP of Haiti (Ministry of Public Health and Population).

  • Haiti is the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere with an average annual income of less than $360 annually.
  • 30 % of the children their die before their 3rd birthday from preventable causes.
  • Nearly 50% of the children in Haiti exhibit some
  • Although the government provides free contraception resources such as condoms, birth control pills and depo Provera injections, it is not accessible to many rural women due to the locations of the clinics which provide this resource.

Reproductive Data for Haiti (CIA World Factbook, 2015)

  • Maternal Mortality Rate: 359 deaths/100,000 live births (31 highest rate in the world) • Infant Mortality Rate: 47.98 deaths/1,000 live births (40 highest rate in the world)
  • Contraceptive Usage Rate: 34.5%
  • HIV Rate: 2% (27 highest in the world)
  • Local Rate of Unintended Pregnancies: 67%

The current medical director of a clinic located in the proposed catchment area recently determined that of the 240 women he saw in the prenatal clinic monthly, 70% would classify their pregnancy as unplanned and would have worked to prevent it if they had resources available to do so.

A recent study of the community revealed the following misinformation by the participants:

  • When taking birth control methods that lead to skipping periods (i.e. implant, IUD, Depo-Provera), women believe that all of the periods should have had each month collect inside her body and lead to her being overweight
  • Family planning is only about preventing a woman from having babies
  • If a woman uses a method of birth control, she will be unable to get pregnant in the future • Catholics do not permit any method of family planning
  • Having many children, or children close together does not put a woman or infant at risk of mortality or morbidity
  • It is safer and healthier for a girl to have a baby when she is younger (i.e. teenager) versus having one in her 30s
  • When questioned throughout the clinic catchment area community, both men and women reported location of family planning clinics being the second biggest barrier to birth control usage only after misconceptions related to birth control usage.
  • In order to increase usage of birth control, it is necessary to eliminate the lack of access burden many individuals report.

What is Currently Available

  • Clinic St. Esprit– Primary Care, Dental, and Rehabilitation Clinic operating in Croix-des-Bouquets on the site of St. Charles Seminary. Regular classes including exercise/fitness, nutrition, and well-baby classes are offered weekly. Unable to offer birth control methods on site due to Catholic objections to contraception.
  • Profamil– NGO serving the people of Croix-des-Bouquets within Clinic St. Esprit’s catchment area with free and low-cost family planning methods, as well as STD testing and counseling, gynecologic care, and pre/post-natal care. Located on the outskirts of Croix-des-Bouquets –a half a day’s walk.

The Carmelle Voltaire center incorporates a classroom facility to address a variety of family planning and sexual health topics including safer sex practices, family planning methods, pre/post-natal care, dealing with abusive relationships, and more. The center also most importantly includes an examination room and storage facilities to handle family planning needs. Future plans for the center will include youth and female empowerment programs to encourage hobbies and activities other than sexual activity. Lastly, the clinic would seek to utilize and adopt family planning methods, offering the birth control patch, diaphragm, vaginal ring, and sponge. The center would not encourage, promote or refer for termination of pregnancies.

In the first year, our goal is to provide 5000-10,000 patient encounters.  Patients will be charged a nominal fee for each encounter of 25 gourdes (approximately $ 0.40). Expected annual revenue would be approximately $2000-$4000US.

Education will be provided using the:

  • WHO Training Resource Package for Family Planning, Educational methods such as visual aids and models will be used for teaching purposes to this population with a high degree of illiteracy.
  • WHO Medical Eligibility Criteria for Contraceptive Use
  • WHO Selected Practice Recommendations for Contraceptive Use

Various contraceptive methods are available free from the MSPP (Haitian Ministry of Health) such as oral birth control pills, depo injections and IUD.  These will be procured regularly.  In addition, some patches may be available.

Records will be kept and ongoing attempts will be made to follow up with the scheduled return appointments for the long acting contraception so that women will be reminded to return for further appointments fregga

The Carmelle Center will be managed by Fregga Charles Dorsaint, RN.  Fregga has past
experience managing clinics for non profits in Haiti and is familiar with the  need for gathering data on the effectiveness of the clinic so reports can be made to donors.  She is a compassionate and caring nurse who will  serve the women of Croix Des Bouquets well.

Creating a new family planning center would have the following impact on the Croix-des-Bouquets area:

  • Cost effective family planning
  • Addressing a major community need (up to 80% unplanned pregnancies0
  • Education related to reproductive health (non currently available)
  • creating job opportunities hire Haitians to assist in staffing the clinic ( ), and much of the burden felt by the singular family planning clinic for all of Croix-des-Bouquets would be relieved. A new family planning center n
  • impacts the health of women and children, but also
  • impacts the economic stability of Croix-des-Bouquets.

The facility will be set up for use as an outpatient clinic.  The services provided in the clinic will include but not be limited to the following:

  • safer sex practices
  • Free educational classes on normal healthy pregnancy
  • Distribution of contraceptive options (provided without charge), not to include pregnancy termination
  • Pregnancy testing
  • dealing with abusive relationships

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