I am Sherley Saintervé, a young woman and medical doctor who is 31 years old. As I have matured and faced the challenges that come with living on this earth, I have learned “the urgent necessity to refocus my life on Jesus.”
Born in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, I grew up in the Tabarre Section and lived with my mother Jeanne, my father Syrhilhomme and my two little sisters, Monica and Shlaydine. Growing up, we didn’t have much money because there are limited opportunities in Haiti due in part to earthquakes, hurricanes, tropical storms and political unrest. My dad is disabled, but my mom worked really, really hard to put food on the table, a roof over our heads and keep us clothed. As with any first-born in my community, big expectations were placed on my shoulders, even though educational opportunities were few.
From a very young age, I have been grateful to my parents for giving me life and raising me in a Christian family. I began attending Sainte Claire Catholic Church in Petit Place Cazeau with my parents, and because I naturally like to sing, I was a member of the children’s choir and then an active member of the Lamercie Choir for many years.
As a teenager, I learned the importance and beauty of music and service to others, including caring for those who are sick, which gave me true happiness in being able to share my gifts with others. I joined the Mouvement Eucharistique des Jeunes, a group of young people serving the church in all areas, from cleaning and supervising the youngest to organizing activities for the young in and outside the church.
With the help of the Diocese of Norwich Outreach to Haiti Education Sponsorship Program that provides scholarships to students, I graduated from high school, passed the state exam in 2011 and realized my biggest dream, to study medicine, when I was admitted to one of the top three medical schools in Haiti. As a young, female medical student, I sent a great positive message to the young people of my neighborhood: If I could go to college, they could too. In 2017, I was able to graduate from the Faculty of Medicine at Quisqueya University. I am very lucky. God does lots of miracles in my life, especially through Outreach to Haiti, which has contributed considerably to who I am today.
I have a lot of overambitious projects and dreams because I want to contribute more to the sustainable development of my country. I began working as a doctor in a private clinic in Canaan, Croix-des-Bouquets. In 2021, I worked for a non-governmental organization (NGO) in Les Cayes in a management position. Les Cayes was one of the areas impacted by the Aug. 14 earthquake. I was under lots of pressure to attain performance indicators and specified results. The pressure grew and became intense to the point of my not having enough time to eat, which completely unbalanced my health system. One day, faced with my critical health situation, I began questioning myself about the true sense of life. This self-doubt made me realize I had completely forgotten the divine part of my life by working to excess in order to succeed in my material life.
This experience has changed my life and opened my eyes to the urgent necessity to refocus on Jesus. While my faith has always played an integral role in my life, I now strive to see God in all aspects of my daily life and place Him at the center of everything I do at work and at home. For me, it is the best way to dedicate my life to God and be closer to Him. Every single activity in which I take part helps me to experience God through the people I serve and to consolidate my relationship with Him.
I was raised Catholic and did my primary and secondary classes at Catholic schools. I love the Catholic faith, the operating principles at the base of Catholicism and the solidarity and sense of sharing animating the Catholic community in Haiti and around the world.
Today, I would like to tell my younger self that it is very important to always have big dreams, but never forget to put God at the center of your life because He will never abandon you in times of sorrow, difficulties and failure. When I lost my good health, I was devastated and felt life had no meaning, that it had collapsed.
In dealing with the illness facing me while I was working in Les Cayes in 2021, I quickly realized that life is priceless, and the greatest gift that God has given me is health. And this disease inspired me to review my dreams so I can refocus my life on God. And now, I consider this disease an opportunity God gave me to grow spiritually. It is a second chance to reconnect myself to God and to strengthen my relationship with Him.
Each new day, I ask myself, when will I completely recover my health so I can return to finalizing my studies and continue with my projects and dreams? I believe God will help me to achieve these goals. My faith is in God. I know He is at the center of my life and that He will help me at the right time. I now know to take care of my body and, most importantly, my soul. Each day, I pray and thank God for His many blessings. I want people everywhere to know God is our Savior, our Redeemer, the only way that leads to Truth and Love. The true sense of life can be found in God.