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Auguste, Rose-Anne 1963–

Rose-Anne Auguste 1963

At a Glance

Received Human Rights Award

Sources

Nurse, social worker, human rights activist

Human rights activist Rose-Anne Auguste has spent her short lifetime fighting injustice in her homeland of Haiti. Instilled by her parents with a courage to do what is right and help others in greater need, Auguste has received international recognition for her work. That attention culminated with the receipt of a human rights award from Reebok.

Auguste was born on November 29,1963, in Jeremie, the capital city of Haitis southwestern province. Growing up, she was surrounded by a family that did not unquestioningly accept the status quo. As Auguste wrote in her autobiographical notes, her father kept on questioning the social structures while her mother provid[ed] health care to the underprivileged population.

Following the example set by her parents, Auguste noted that she got involved in the resistance against exploitation and social injustice while a teenager. During the 1970s she attended the Pressoir Jerome School in Jeremie, and later studied at Port-au-Princes Lucien Hibbert College, where she received her baccalaureate in 1984. She went on to study nursing at the National School of Nursing, getting her diploma in 1988. During her studies in nursing school, Auguste set up a nurses student union, which advocated better care for needy patients. She also studied social services at the School of Human Sciences at Haitis State University.

At the Hospital Sainte Therese in Hinche Auguste served as a nurse in social services. In 1989 and 1990 she managed a health development center for Solidarity Health Canada Haiti, and was stationed near Lasca-obas, in the low central plateau in Haitis frontier zone with the Dominican Republic. During 1990 and 1991 Auguste worked for Care in Petion Ville, 75 kilometers northwest of Port-au-Prince, and also became involved in planning and setting up a day program of vaccination with the help of other people.

In 1992, Auguste founded the Womens Health Clinic (Klinique Sante Fanm, in Creole) in Kafou Fey, Port-au-Prince, Haiti, in association with the U.S.-based Partners in Health, an organization that works to improve health in poor communities. In its several years of operation her clinic, located in one of Haitis worst slums and originally only meant for women, has treated over 200 women, men, and children each day, more than 22,000 patients. Auguste also has provided counseling for female victims of gang beatings and rape. I firmly believe that the overwhelming majority of women must fight with determination against social injustice, Auguste clarified in her autobiographical notes.

Despite the use of force and repression during the pro-Duvalier military coup that ousted the democratically elected Jean-Bertrand Aristide in 1991, Auguste risked her personal safety to rescue patients in Haitis only trauma facility, in which several patients were shot by

At a Glance

Born Marie Carmele Rose-Anne Auguste, November 29, 1963, in jeremie, Haiti; daughter of Prosper (a lawyer and teacher) and Anne Pelsener (a retired midwife nurse) Auguste; divorced; children: Mandela Pierre Louis and Kwame Bertrand. Education: Lucien Hibbert College, baccalaureate, 1984; National School of Nursing, Nursing Diploma, 1988; studied social services at School of Human Sciences, State University of Haiti.

Served as nurse in social services at Hospital Sainte Therese in Hinche; managed health development center for Solidarity Health Canada Haiti, near Lascaobas, 1989-90; worked for Care, in Petion Ville, 1990-91; founded the Womens Health Clinic {KlinicSante Fanm in Creole), in Kafou Fey, Port-au-Prince, Haiti, in 1992.

Selected awards; Reebok Human Rights Award, 1994.

Addresses: Home 165 Route des Dalles, Carrefour Feuilles, Port-au-Prince, Haiti.

Haitian soldiers. Doctors became too scared to enter the facility and it shut down. Under military fire, Auguste entered the hospital, used an axe to force open doors and cabinets with medical supplies, and reopened it. Persuading several doctors and nurses to help her, she became the hospitals emergency director until soldiers removed her a few days later. Her social activism forced her to hide from the military at night, often sleeping in different homes.

Received Human Rights Award

In 1994, Auguste received the Reebok Human Rights Award, which she later donated to Partners in Health in support of destitute women in Haiti. Former American president Jimmy Carter has described Rose-Anne Augustes commitment to the protection and well being of her fellow Haitians [as] inspiring. When Auguste journeyed with her mother and daughter to receive the 1994 Reebok Human Rights Award, the PIH (Partners in Health) Bulletin reported that in her acceptance speech, Roseanne [sie] argued that human rights abuses are grounded in a societys socio-political structure. Her own country, she noted, has for centuries been ensnared in a trans-national web of political and economic forces, all of which have come to bear on Haitis current human rights situation. Roseanne offered a scathing review of the policies of the powerful, both foreign and home-grown, and called for full disarmament of military and paramilitary forces in Haiti.

In the June 1995 issue of Essence magazine Auguste told Edwidge Danticat she was a combatant for human rights, and added, The situation is very difficult for poor women in Haiti. They are trapped by sexism, economic exploitation and political violence. She also said in Essence,What keeps me going is my determination to help my people. Even though democracy has returned to Haiti, there is still a lot to be done. It is my love for my people that leads me to do this work.

For more than a decade Auguste, a divorced mother of two children, has provided health care services to indigent women while battling for social fairness in a country that has long suffered from abuses of political and human rights, and extreme poverty. While interning at the Hospital Sainte-Therese in Hinche and working with non-governmental organizations Auguste challenged the Haitian government with the argument that the lack of care her patients were receiving was in itself a human rights abuse.

In addition to her nursing skills, Auguste speaks several languages, is knowledgeable about first-aid, hygiene, family planning, vaccination, and medicine. She is a poet and a musician who recites and sings to patients to cheer them up and remind them of their political and reproductive rights. She has also edited a now-banned publication on womens rights and helped create the Ad Hoc Committee on Violence Against Women, which set up the only conference on the topic after the coup. And she has helped women seeking refuge from the military authorities and has assisted endangered people in escaping from the country. Several doctors have described her as charismatic, compelling, courageous, an uncompromising defender of poor womens rights [and her work as being] nothing short of heroic.

Other advocates have added, She is a thorn in the side of those who violate the dignity of the Haitian poor In many countries, Rose-Annes actions would be admirable, but perhaps not really heroic. In Haiti, where human rights workers and pro-democracy activists have been summarily executed, Rose-Anne takes enormous risks in even addressing these matters in public.

Sources

Books

Tekavec, Valerie,Teenage Refugees from Haiti Speak Out, The Rosen Publishing Group, 1995, pp. 7-17.

Periodicals

Atlanta Inquirer, November 26, 1994, p. 3.

Crisis, January 1995, p. 40.

Essence, June 1995.

Houston NewsPages, November 2, 1994, p. 10.

New York Amsterdam News, November 12,1994, p. 24.

Michigan Chronicle, November 23-29, 1994, p. C7.

New York Voice, October 27-November 2,1994, p. 1.

Observer Newspapers,(Sacramento, CA), November 24-30, 1994.

PIH (Partners in Health) Bulletin, spring 1995, p. 7.

Other

Additional biographical information was obtained from Rose-Anne Augustes autobiographical notes and curriculum uitae; Reebok Human Rights Programs; Dr. Paul Farmer, Assistant Professor, Harvard Medical School; Dr. Christopher Price, Regional Director, Family Planning International Assistance; Executive Director Dr. Jim Yong Kim, Partners in Health; Marie-Flore Chipps, Zanmi Lasante; and Dr. Jaap Breetvelt, Health Consultant, Medisch Coordinatie Secretariaat/Holland.

Alison Carb Sussman

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