Stories for a Healthier World: You’ve Got This!

Edwidge Danticat, who has been honored with the MacArthur Genius Award and other awards for her writing and work on behalf of Haiti, once said, “We tell stories to live, to connect with one another and to build community.”

In Haiti, storytelling is a vital educational tool. In the 1990’s, when I was growing up in Port-au-Prince, the voice of Monique “Fannie” Souvenir, and that of fellow actor “Ti Joe” were very familiar ones on radio waves. Kat, from Kreyolicious, points out that “the two [actors] had their own television show on Television National, in which they educated viewers on everything from drunk driving to reckless behavior.”

I often think about Fannie and Ti Joe and their industrious creativity. I was very excited when I got the opportunity to write the script (“You’ve Got This!”) for a short educational film about diabetes. I got to combine two of my interests: scriptwriting and medicine. Most people don’t know this about me, but I spent almost 3 years in med school, before I quit at the demand of a very jealous Muse. (Seriously, these stories were not going to write themselves!) “Santé publique” was my favorite subject at Université Notre-Dame d’Haïti.

The project, led by University of Miami’s Miller School of Medicine students Scott Walker and Mariel Janowsky, seeks to reach the Haitian-American population in South Florida.

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“Diabetes represents a leading cause of morbidity and mortality in the United States.”

“Diabetes represents a leading cause of morbidity and mortality in the United States and, in South Florida, Haitians are more likely to have higher hemoglobin A1C levels when compared to non-Hispanic whites and African Americans,” say Scott and Mariel. “This is likely due, at least in part, to the paucity of educational materials available for this population and the ineffectiveness of printed materials since Haitian-Creole remains the predominant language within the Haitian community.”

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“While maintaining cultural relevance, the 20-minute film in Haitian-Creole will educate patients on disease process, management of diabetes and prevention of disease-related complications.”

It will be available for use by diabetes educators, clinicians and public health professionals.

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The cast includes Karoll-Ann Fanfan and Tarahmes Utaum, who both appeared in Get Tested.

Carline Douze‘s daughter will play the role of 12 year-old diabetic Patricia, and Soraya Bernadotte will make an appearance as Ida, Patricia’s best friend.

Schiller E. Sanon-Jules, owner of the Little Haiti Thrift and Gift Shop, will act as Gerald, another individual properly managing his diabetes.

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I’m also in the film! My name is Marie and Gerald is my dad.

Karoll-Ann, MJ, and Tarahmes
Karoll-Ann, MJ, and Tarahmes

I’ll keep you posted re: the release!

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