A Cultural Community Matriarch
"Start somewhere, and you can start small, but start somewhere!"
Ms. Carmelie Montuma Ismaël
Preserving the culture in a country such as Haiti is not an easy task. However, due to the relentless efforts of a Fanm Potomitan Carmelie Montuma Ismaël, also known as “Man Lili,” the Haitian culture is being promoted, maintained, and thriving in Camp-Perrin. Ms. Ismaël is a professional woman who wears many hats, such as community matriarch, leader, wife, and mother. "Family is everything to me," she says.
Born and raised in Camp-Perrin, Haiti, Ms. Ismaël attended college in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. Upon completing her studies, she returned to her hometown, embarking on a mission to encourage, promote, and preserve the culture.
About two years ago, Ms. Ismaël founded “Cercle Culturel de Camp-Perrin”; an organization that focuses on fostering multi-generational relationships, promoting the culture, and paying homage to those who have paved the way. “It is important to know your roots,” she says.
Centre Culturel de Camp-Perrin organizes multiple events throughout the year to help promote and meet its objectives. Recently, the organization hosted a successful event entitled " 2 Jounen " that included Vente Signature (book signing) of signed copies from the authors and a Q & A session, with over 300 hundred young people in attendance. "Vin Li" (Come Read) is another event the organization hosts by providing free books and encouraging the youth to read aloud. It has been more than ten (10) years since I have been providing support to the youth of Camp-Perrin and its neighboring towns, says Ms. Ismaël.
For better or worse, Ms. Ismaël stands with her community. On August 14, 2021, a devastating earthquake struck the Great South of Haiti. In the aftermath of the tragedy, Ms. Ismaël (Man Lili), backed by her team (Ban dèyè Man Lili), assisted affected families in over thirty (30) locations throughout Camp-Perrin, distributing food, water, and other necessities. She also helped a group of medical volunteers in delivering healthcare to the victims.
Ms. Ismaël takes pride in showing and doing everything with respect, as taught by her father. This principle has made navigating through her personal life more manageable. In the beginning, she faced some challenges at Cercle Culturel de Camp-Perrin. Support from the community was scarce because people were disinterested in the organization's vision. Eventually, people embraced the organization and have since become the most significant source of advertisement for Cercle Culturel de Camp-Perrin through word of mouth. Whenever she felt discouraged, she poured from her faith. Ismaël says, “I believe in God. I believe in love for my neighbors and human compassion. Just as the Bible says: Love your neighbors as self. This Biblical teaching is the foundation I stand to do everything in life.”
In 2018, Ms. Ismaël created yet another organization called Renaissance Haiti. She organizes a yearly Entrepreneurial Contest showcasing young entrepreneurs throughout the different parts of Haiti and their local goods with the same common goal: to promote the Haitian Culture. The most recent winner came from Bainet with his product of Haitian Castor Oil called “100% Bainet”, sold locally and internationally in Europe and the United States.
Ms. Ismaël advises those who want to support their communities: "Start somewhere, and you can start small, but start somewhere. Please don't say the action you're going to do is worthless, and people won't understand it. But, first, do something with passion and love, something you feel good about doing. Starting somewhere is one thing. The fire in each Haitian counts for the revival of Haiti. We all have something to do! Each one of us has a mission. Just do, and you’d be surprised by the impact and the many people following you without your knowledge. "Good deeds are never lost."
By Preserving and promoting the Haitian culture, fostering multi-generational relationships, and being a cultural community matriarch, that’s why Carmelie Montuma Ismaël a Fanm Potomitan!
Keep in touch with Carmelie Montuma
Watch the video interview here.
You can nominate a Fanm Potomitan HERE.