News / Americas

Haiti's First Lady Champions Social Causes

Sophia Martelly, the wife of Haiti's new president, Michel Martelly, is juggling the care of four children and a change of lifestyle from when she was simply the wife of a popular musician, her husband's previous job.  She has many passions and many things she says she wants to accomplish in the next four and a half years of her husband's presidency.

Sophia Martelly is nervous.  It's her first TV interview since becoming Haiti's first lady.  And what a transition it's been.

Her husband, Michel Martelly, is now president of Haiti. She jokes how he suddenly needed more than one suit and a single pair of dress shoes.    

That's because Michel Martelly previously dressed a lot more casually as can be seen on YouTube videos featuring music star "Sweet Micky".  There's also plenty of Internet evidence about "Sweet Micky's" wild side.  

Sophia Martelly says it was just a performance.

"My husband Michel is very conservative," she insists.  "A lot of people find it very hard to believe that somebody so outspoken, so controversial on stage could be so conservative.  But he has been a very conservative husband and father for the past 25 years that I’ve been with him."

Martelly and his family show up a lot on YouTube. Oldest child, Olivier, even produces music videos. 

Mrs. Martelly says life changed for them after Haiti's presidential election in May.

"It’s different.  They have more security.  They cannot do anything in private.  That part is a little frustrating to them," she admits.  "But they do enjoy the advantages of being the president’s child."

Mrs. Martelly predicts no return to her husband's rock star life.

“He’s giving himself totally to making a difference in people’s lives," she says.  "I understand that the music, he had also given 100 percent himself. But I think there’s more satisfaction in the results he can get by doing good for the people.”

The first lady says she plans to dedicate her own good to Haiti's elderly.

“Here, they are really neglected.  I think it would be good to have shelters for the elderly.  To provide them with healthcare,“ she explains.


Also on her list, malnutrition.  The United Nations says it is the number one cause of death in Haitian children under five years old.   

Sophia Martelly says for the past 18 years she's championed social causes.  She says that part of her life will continue now -  just on a much larger scale.  




Carolyn Presutti

Carolyn Presutti is an Emmy and Silver World Medal award winning television correspondent who works out of VOA’s Washington headquarters.   She has also won numerous Associated Press awards and a Clarion for her coverage of The Syrian Medical Crisis, Haiti, The Boston Marathon Bombing, Presidential Politics, The Southern Economy, and The 9/11 Bombing Anniversary.  In 2013, Carolyn aired exclusive stories on the Asiana plane crash and was named VOA’s chief reporter with Google Glass.

You can follow Carolyn on Twitter at CarolynVOA, on Google Plus and Facebook.

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