Winning Essays

Chima Fransia Eugène
Exantus Stravenky
Gabriel Alicea
Georges Theodate
Jamessuze Joseph
Orleuse Louis
Stevens Etienne
Wendy Destilus


Chima Fransia Eugène (age 16)
Hyde Park

I am writing this essay in order to honor a really special person. She is the one who gave me life. My mother made many sacrifices for me. In the following paragraphs, you will see how she has nurtured and supported me since I was born.

The most important things that she did for me is to give me a good education. She’s not rich, but she sent me to one of the best and expensive schools in my country. She often told me that education is more important than money because it’s easy for a rich person to become poor, but the education that you receive will stay forever. She wanted to make sure that I did all my homework. Previously, I thought that she was bothering me, but now I realize that it was one of the best things she ever did for me.

She usually understands me and she’s always ready to forgive me when I make mistakes. My mother is very important to me because she really cares about me. I remember a day when I was ten years old. My parents were really broke and they needed to pay for my school. In my country, you have to pay tuition every month. If you don’t, you can’t attend classes. She didn’t know what to do because she didn’t like when I missed school for no reason. So, she did something she didn’t like to do just for her daughter. She asked her sister to lend her some money to pay the bills. She said she wanted to do the impossible to make me happy. I really appreciate that.

She has only two children, but my brother was not from my father. His father died when he was five years old. My father left us when I was four years old, and came to the United States. My mother was the only one helping us anyway, even if my father had to send money or food for us, it wasn’t enough to take care of a child. We needed affection and my mother didn’t mind playing with us or doing anything for us because she wanted us to be happy. When I was twelve years old, she left Haiti to be with my father in Boston. I had to live with my brother who was eighteen years old. I felt a little bit sad because I missed her, even though we used to talk every day by phone, it wasn’t the same as when she was by my side. Four years later, I was happy to be with her when I moved to Boston too, and she is still taking good care of me.

I don’t have gold or diamonds and even if I had a chance to give her the whole world in exchange, it won’t be equal to the incredible things she has done for me. Without her, there’d be no love in my life and I think I would be lost if I lost her. That’s why I want her to be proud of me by being educated and respecting myself and everybody. Like she always says, “Education first and you will be whatever you want to be.”

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Exantus Stravenky (age 20)
Hyde Park

In life, everyone has a role model who has advises, nurtures, and supports them in a significant way. For me, the model, the person, the one who supported me is my father, Dady Exantus. I choose my dad, not because I love him more than my mother, but because he has done a lot of things that have had an impact on me.

First, in my home country of Haiti, education costs a lot of money and even though my family was considered middle class, school was still expensive for us. Despite this my father did everything he could to give me a good education and send me to a good school. I remember one time a friend of my father’s asked him why he spent so much money for my tuition. He replied “I’m doing for my sons what my father didn’t do for me.” When I learned he had said that I promised him that I would never forget what he said and succeed in school. I have kept this promise and I will graduate high school in a couple of months.

Secondly, my uncle and my father were supposed to leave Haiti in November 2006, but my father didn’t because my grandfather, who had been living in the US didn’t apply for my brother and me to get our Green Card. My grandfather told my father that if he wanted my brother and me to come to the US he would have to wait with us. Some people advised him to leave us and just apply for me and my brother after living in the US. My father refused and said that he couldn’t be anything in life anymore because he was too old but he said I could be everything I ever wanted to be in the world and that waiting with us could never be a problem for him. My uncle left us behind while my father stayed with us. My father, my brother, and I finally arrived together in the US in April 2007. My father has done a lot of things that have impacted me; he has given me love, affection, encouragement, and hope. I want to make my father proud of me. I want to accomplish for him and myself everything he never had the opportunity to achieve.

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The Invisible Man
Gabriel Alicea (age 17)

This person is always with me in my heart because he can’t be with me physically due to an obligated separation. Eduardo Alicea has helped raise me until I was five years old. For me that was enough to never forget him no matter who else came into my life. He was never a bad father; he also helped with raising my brother. This was amazing because my big brother wasn’t my father’s real son, but he still loved him as if he was. Even until this day my big brother speaks proudly of him.

My father was separated from me when I was five because he was caught by the police. My father was into doing a lot of bad things, but it was all to put food on our table. I guess that wasn’t the right way to do it, but he did it – he made that bad choice. The funny thing is that he was tried for things that he didn’t even do. He didn’t even get caught for his crimes, but was caught for someone else’s. With everything he was blamed for I knew he wasn’t coming out any time soon. I was only five going on six, but I wasn’t clueless. I knew all about my father’s case. I was too little to go to court but my mom always kept it clear with me. She told me what happened in details.

Without anybody knowing, I was suffering a lot. My mother worked a lot when I was little, so my father was the one who drove me to school, picked me up, and cooked for me when I got home from school. I spent a lot of time with him and thinking that he was going to be locked up I thought all the time that I was with him just wasn’t enough. I used to be sad all the time after that.

All of this experience was valuable for my father and me. This taught me a lot, it showed me that if I value my family and all the people that care about me I shouldn’t make the same mistakes that my father did. I’m not saying that he didn’t care about us, but he just wasn’t thinking straight. I learned to always think of the consequences before I even think of doing anything. Also he taught me to always cherish all the people around me and to listen to advice that people have to give.

Even to this day reading my father’s letter just gets to me. I never cry - for nothing or nobody, but reading his letters always makes me cry. I just can’t help it. He always writes he would like to be with me. I just think of what he must be going through and get sad myself. I also want him out and to be with me.

Nobody knows how I get because I read all his letters in my room; I guess I’m still trying to hide my feelings. Because of this I withdrew a lot. I know now the choices that I have and thanks to my father’s experience I now know what choice to make. I know what road not to go down, because I can see the consequences that are at the end. Things like jail, or even death. That’s why I chose the other path. Things like education, jobs and diplomas, everything I need for success. That’s why I plan to go to college to make a difference for myself and to prove that I can do anything that I set my mind to.

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Georges Theodate (age 20)

I am 20 years old now, and I live in Boston. My life is comfortable. I have everything I need to reach my goals, and make my dreams come true. However, I am feeling guilty about leaving one of the most important people that took care of me, and raised me. I think that person still cares about me even though I am far away from her. This person is my mother. Her name is Marie; she is a short woman, not very fat, very smart, and she is a hard worker. My mother was educated at home. Her father taught her how to read, and write, but she never had a chance to go to college. To me, she is one of the best women I have ever known in my life.

I recall when I was living with her in Haiti. She was the one who replaced my father at home after he left the country. My father left Haiti when I was ten. For some time, she had to work very hard to take care of me. She had to get up at 5:00 A.M every morning to make breakfast and lunch for me before she went to work. Later, when she left her first job, she had to get home quickly to make dinner, and make sure everything was right. Then she went to her second job.

When she came home in the evening, she would help with my homework. When I finished she made soup for me to eat before I told her everything I did during the day. When I finished eating, she always made me sit in her lap, and rubbed my head to make me feel comfortable. After telling her everything that happened that day, she would tell me a nice story about my grandmother or her life to make me sleepy. Sometimes, when she got home, she went straight to bed, because she had a hard day’s work. However, I felt uncomfortable dealing with that, because I hated when she felt exhausted, but, I was not capable of understanding the pain she felt at that moment. If I were able to understand all the things that she had been through to make me different from others I would never feel uncomfortable when she did not feel good.

Now, I see myself living my life day after day without my mother, who is one of the most important women in my life. I feel depressed and guilty for leaving my precious mother in a country far away from where I am. To understand the way I feel without her one must understand the true meaning of emotion and feeling for someone you really love. Hopefully, one day I will go back to Haiti to see her, and find my happiness again.

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Honor to My Mother
Jamessuze Joseph (age 16)

After God, my mother is the most important person in my life. She is confident, caring, and understanding. If I have to honor a role model who has nurtured me in a significant and supportive way, I would choose my mother. My mother’s name is Gertha Francois and she is 40-years-old. Actually, she lives in Haiti. She has three kids including me, my sister (Mireille) and my brother (Bensley Angelo). My mother has not finished school, but she has qualities that professionals don’t even dream of. She has done a lot for me like; pushing me to go to school, taking good care of me, etc. One of the unforgettable things was when I was seven years old and I was really sick.

It was a Sunday afternoon; I believe it was in January 1998. At 11:00, I was sleeping when suddenly I woke up and went to my mother’s bed and I asked for some cookies. She told me that it was too late for me to eat cookies and I could have them tomorrow for breakfast. I was not happy about it so I just went back to sleep. After half an hour I realized that there was something strange with my body. I was immobile, my mouth was dry as a dessert, and my eyes were sticking. I thought I was dreaming but I heard a voice saying, “Honey here is the cookie. Do you still want it? Honey what is wrong?” for an instant, I thought I passed away then I felt like I was lifting up and I heard my mother crying for help. After that, I thought I heard a car beeping, but I was not quite sure. My mother had me on her lap and she was murmuring some songs. She was sobbing and trying to revive me. I wanted to tell her that I am here, but my mouth did not allow me to do so. Her tears were all over my face.

At 5 am, I returned back to earth. As I opened my eyes I saw that I was on my mother’s lap swinging back and forth. She had stayed up all night long. She told me what happened and how worried she was. The doctor said that if she had not rushed to the hospital I could have some serious injury. What happened? How did it happen? I don’t know. All I know is my mother was right here by my side.

Mothers are the root of a family. My mother was and will always be there for me when I need her most. I know that there is no gift that I could give her other than saying thank you for what she has done for me. My mother is very important to me. Losing a mother is like losing two-thirds of your regular life. I love my mother and she is a great model for me to follow.

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Orleuse Louis (age 18)

In the world there are two kinds of people: those who give up in life and those who always work hard and fight to achieve their goals. I am the type of person who strives to follow her dreams no matter what it takes. A significant person who has influenced and inspired me to adopt this philosophy is my mother, Ateyonie Vilnegre. My mother is pretty, funny, caring, and loving. She appreciates everything a person does for her. I respect her for her ability to balance all of the hardships she has encountered in life while maintaining a good and positive personality.

She is a single mother, but she works hard to take care of me, my little brother, and my two older sisters. Despite adversity, she provides me with everything a mother is supposed to give her children—food, clothes, and other necessary things. She gives me great advice and she lets me know she loves me and always will no matter what happens in my life. She also helps me to believe that I can do anything I put my mind to and she will always support me.

When I was eight months old my mother left me to come to the United States. It wasn’t easy for her to leave my two older sisters and me behind, but she had to. She went to school and worked a full-time job. It wasn’t easy for her. She missed my sisters and me. She had to send money almost every three weeks for us and she had herself to take care of too. Plus she had a son in America to take care of. Even though sometimes she wanted to give up, she remembered us in Haiti and worked even harder so she could bring us to the U.S.A. Can you believe a single mother working to take care of her three daughters and one son? She had to pay housing and other bills by herself without the government’s aid. Can you put yourself in her place to see how hard it was for her? Sometimes she could cry really loud. I felt hurt inside to see her crying. The only thing she always said was “I have to do what I have to do.”

Through her example, she makes me want to persevere and achieve the greatest success in everything I do. I am proud and happy to have a mother like her who cares so much about her children and herself. Especially since I know the struggles she faces in balancing her responsibilities in life.

I give her the respect she needs and deserves. I always try to obey her rules. I never try to hurt her feelings. Listening to her is what I do best, because there are some moms who didn’t do all the things my mother has done for me and is still doing for me. I love her with all my heart, and no matter what, I will never stop loving her even when I die.

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My True Heroine
Stevens Etienne (age 18)
Jamaica Plain

I was born in Haiti 18 years ago from the one I considered to be the strongest person I know, the one I knew that has and would face anything in this world for me whether it be in society or in her own family.

She was 19 years old when I came into this world. She was young, lost and pregnant. She didn’t know what to do her family was strict and wouldn’t allow her to be in a relationship so to be pregnant seemed inconceivable to them. She didn’t say anything and kept it secret as long as she could, until the signs started to show and her sisters found out about it. From there the news spread like an epidemic.

Nine months had passed: two months of total ignorance, one month of secrecy, and the last six months of arguing with her family. Though they weren’t on good terms when the time came for me to make my entrance into this world, they were all there -- my grandmother, my mother of course, and three of her sisters. It might have been the most crowded delivery room of the day. There were more members of the family than doctors in the room.

A few years later my mother and I left Haiti to search for our ideal, a place where we could stay and live peacefully, far from the problems we had and the things and people that had bothered us so much and made her worry. As a matter of fact I have never seen my mom not worry about me even now that I’m eighteen-years-old going on nineteen.

From the moment I was born, I was a fragile baby always getting sick. I would later learn I had almost passed out more than once. That must be one of the reasons why my mother has always been looking out for me so intensely.

During the past several years we lived in hard conditions. There were time when I heard her cry, and each time it broke my heart because I was feeling responsible for her unhappiness. I felt that because of me she had lost a lot of opportunities in life. She tried to reassure me, but the feelings I had never died.

For a long time she was the only family I had. I knew that as long as I was with her I had a home. Every time I felt down she was there to make me laugh, so much that I would forget my problems and whatever was bothering me would disappear.

She’s the stone that keeps me straight in life no matter what. I always knew that I could rely on her for advice or help because she’s smart and wise, and has seen so much in her life. If I can live half of what she has lived, I’ll be lucky.

If you read this ‘Mi’ I’m sorry for the times I made you cry, for the times I didn’t listen and the times I lied. No matter what, you must always know that you’re my true heroine, your son ‘BenBen’.

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Wendy Destilus (age 17)
Hyde Park

The person who is most important in my whole life is my lovely mother because she carried me inside her. She protects me and helps me with my problems. She is very careful with me. She loves me so much, and I love her too!

My mother’s name is Marilene L. Destilus. She married my father, Sainthines Destilus, when she was eighteen-years-old. When she was twenty-years-old she brought me into this world. Since that day she has taken care of me. She does everything possible to make happy.

My mother is a beautiful woman. She is thirty-seven-years-old. She has long, brown hair. Her hair is natural without permanent. Her eyes are small. My mother’s face is round with a little nose. My mother is tall and strong. She’s active, understanding and helpful with her family and friends. She lives in Haiti with my father and my two sisters. She works with my father. Their business’ name is “DF Materiaux de Contruction”. She works hard to get money. I am proud of her.

When I was two years old, I lived in Haiti with my mother. One night, some thieves came into my house. They were coming to take something we had in the house. The thieves came, but they did not touch us. My mother hid me because I was crying. During this time I was still young and I was nursing. My mother was afraid and she fed me, so I got sick from her fear. I had acne on my body and lost hair. All the medicine my mom bought for me was useless. I did not get better. I looked gross -- I mean scary, but my mother was not discouraged. She took care of me, cleaned me, and fed me.

When I did not sleep, she stayed to watch me until I slept. She lost sleep. I even had acne on my head, so my mom cut my hair. She prayed to God to cure my acne and to tell her what she must do in this situation. Someone told my mom to visit a doctor. She went to a hospital and asked the doctor for assistance. Later, he told my mother to buy some medicine. Some months later, my acne began to dry and my hair grew back. She kept taking care of me until I was cured. Now, I am grown up, my hair is long, and my skin is clear.

There are some things someone will not do for you, even if this person is your own mother. When someone spends her time on you and sacrifices her body for you, you must appreciate and honor this person. She helps me in many ways. I really respect her for those things my mother did for me. She deserves a lot from me.

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