MARCH 11, 2016 by MICHELE MAIGNAN
This post is also available in: Kreyol
Name : Esther Boucicault Stanislas
Date of Birth : (April 8, 1957)
Place of Birth : Saint Marc, Haiti
Why she is a Fanm Fò :
HIV/AIDS activist Esther Boucicault Stanislas was born in Saint-Marc, Haiti in 1957. She was diagnosed as HIV positive in 1995. Following the death of her husband and her son who was born HIV positive, she decided to dedicate herself to saving others from the same fate.
In December 1998 she was interviewed by Carlo DESINOR on live TV about her illness. This was the first time in Haiti that a person with HIV/AIDS had spoken of their status on such a large platform. Her testimony provoked a scandal in Haiti especially in Saint-Marc, and she endured the hostility of the families of both her first and second husbands. Undeterred by the scorn, Boucicault started FEBS, Fondation Esther Boucicault Stanislas, an organization dedicated to halting the spread of HIV/AIDS and provide medical and psychological aid to those carrying the virus.
For about 20 years now, FEBS has been at the forefront of working with people living with HIV and AIDS, MSM and other marginalized communities. FEBS aims to improve the quality of life for people living with HIV in Haiti by providing quality care and support services, and reducing stigma and discrimination. The organization is considered by many to be one of the few groups representing dignity and hope for PLWHA.
Boucicault’s experience as a woman who so publicly disclosed her status has informed her work with MSM in Haiti. Though things have changed a great deal since 1996, she can relate to the judgment and disparaging comments directed toward key population clients and friends. Through her choice to begin serving this population, she has transformed herself from being a fearless AIDS warrior, to a firm maternal figure who encourages those most vulnerable to be “fearless” in the face of unrelenting bias and discrimination.
Chairperson of the National Network of People Living with HIV-AIDS (PHAP+), Ms. Boucicault has been awarded many distinctions for her work locally and overseas and has received the Harvard School of Public Health 2005 award. She has also been awarded the Keith D. Cylar International Aids Activist Award 2008 for advocacy work. In addition to her advocacy work, She has participated in a wide range of projects over her 52 years, including a film documentary production in 2003.
Yes, her story and long list of accomplishments definitely do make her a Fanm Fò. But for me, it is because of the way she endured and overcame stigma and discrimination. She has transformed her SERO-POSITIVITY into something beautiful.