Louisimène was happy about the way graduation went. “They gave us jerseys, they welcomed us warmly, and we sang very well.”
She came down with a fever right after graduation, and she was still feeling sick a week later, but she was cheerful as she spoke of the day and of the completion of her CLM experience. “Everything they gave us is really ours. They are leaving, but they didn’t take back anything that they gave us.” It was as though she had doubted whether what she received was really hers even until the last moments.
She looks back at her experience with a strong sense of how much her life has changed. “I never had any kind of business activity of my own. I lived in misery. I was drenched by rain. I lived badly. I don’t live badly anymore.”
Even growing up, her life had been hard. She never knew her father. He died before she was born. Her mother remarried, but she was in the couple’s way. Her uncle decided to take her, and he’s the one who raised her. “He didn’t have much. He couldn’t send me to school. But I was rarely hungry.”
She’s been struggling to take good care of the livestock she acquired since she joined CLM. One of her goats had a kid, but her pig died. “I need to save enough money to replace it.” She bought a pair of turkeys, but someone stole one of them. The one she still has is nesting, though, so she may have more soon.
But Louisimène’s most important activity is farming. She and her husband work together. They lost their last crop of beans when the rains came at the wrong moment for them, but they have a small field of plantains that is producing well. It gives them something to eat, but also something to sell.
Having something to sell is important because Louisimène doesn’t want to get into small commerce, and she and her husband need cash sometimes, especially since their girl is finally in school. Keeping her in school has been a struggle. She missed some time when her school fees were overdue. But Louisimène is up to date with the payments now, and she’ll be able to send her girl back to school as soon as the Easter vacation is over.
In the meantime, Louisimène is planning her next planting. She and her husband are getting their field ready for a new crop of black beans, which they will plant in the coming days for harvest in June. She’s pinning her hopes to the upcoming crop. “The bean money will be enough for me to buy the pig I want as long as I don’t waste it.”