Guerline met the CLM team during the fall of 2018, when they were going through the selection process in Kaye Pen, the neighborhood of southern Thomonde where she has lived her whole life. From the first interview, the team felt that the mother of three needed the program, and they told her that they’d come back to talk to her some more.
She answered that they need not bother. She was going to move away. “I wanted to leave my husband and look for work as a maid in Port au Prince.” Her husband Joseph, she explains, was a tafyatè, a hard drinker. “He bought liquor with anything that came into our hands. I couldn’t save up enough to buy a chicken. Life was bad. I was ready to leave him because of rum.” She was having trouble keeping her children fed, and though they were sending their children to school, they weren’t able to pay. The debt to the school was mounting. The principal had been willing to keep the kids, but at the end of the last school year, he refused to release their report cards.
The CLM staff asked her to stick around a little bit longer. “They said it would be good for me.” She agreed to do so, and is very glad she did. Her progress has been strikingly quick.
The team gave her two goats and a pig. And though none of the three has reproduced, her holdings have multiplied. She has purchased four female turkeys and a donkey.
She bought the first two turkeys when they were quite young for 1250 gourds, which is currently just under $14. She used 1000 gourds of savings from her weekly stipend, and her husband gave her the other 250. She saw someone pass her house, on their way to market to sell them, and she decided to make an offer. Prices can sometimes be lower under such circumstances because it saves the seller the trouble of carrying heavy birds a long way. She bought the other two as mature hens in successive purchases for 1000 gourds each.
The donkey cost her 5000 gourds, and she still owes 1000, but she knows it will be useful when she establishes a small commerce. She’d like to sell groceries out of her home, and having a donkey to take to market will save her the 250 gourds she would have to pay a motorcycle taxi to bring her home from market with merchandise. She used 2500 gourds savings from her stipend for most of the down payment. Joseph gave her the other 1500.
He seems to be a hardworking man. He farms family land, and runs a business selling religious books – bibles, hymnals, and Vodoun texts – at local markets: Nan Mango, Koray, and Thomonde. And since the couple joined CLM, he’s stopped drinking. Guerline credits the program. She says he wanted to take advantage of the opportunity. But she also explains that Joseph had a dream, and it led him to go to a friend, who offered him an herbal remedy to stop his drinking.
Guerline is now excited about the future. “I hope my animals will reproduce, and I’ll be able to buy a cow. Even just the turkeys should be able to do it. Big males sell for a lot.” But she doesn’t have a plan for the cow. “I’ll keep it just in case I have a problem.”