Rosana hasn’t been feeling well. She’s suffering from conjunctivitis, which has been sweeping through the region. But she also has a stomachache and a toothache. The latter is especially debilitating, because it makes it hard to sleep. The only smile I can get out of her is when I talk about my own fear of dentists.
She hasn’t been able to see a doctor, because all her money is tied up in her small commerce and she hasn’t felt well enough to go out and sell her merchandise or even to collect that’s money that’s owed to her by customers who bought on credit. “They’ll pay, but I have to go to them. Depi w malad, zafè w malad.” That means that when you’re sick, your business is sick too.”
Most of the ones who paid her already paid in beans. This is not uncommon around harvest. Farmers who have little cash until they sell their beans use some to pay debts. Rosana will sell the beans, and should end up earning more than she would have had she taken cash at the time of purchase. But it leaves her short of cash right now, at a moment when she needs some. Medical care might be free for members of CLM – it’s nearly free for anyone who goes to a Partners in Health clinic – but transportation to the clinic can be expensive, and since a doctor is likely to order lab tests, a simple consultation can involve three trips.
Money continues to be very tight for Rosana and her husband. Feeding all the mouths they have to feed while finishing work on their house has been more than challenging. Since April, “nou pran chyen voye sou chat.” That means “we take the dog and toss it onto the cat,” and it’s a way for her to say that she’s been robbing Peter to pay Paul. They’re finished with the house, so things should start easing up. Purchasing the palm wood that was used for its walls has eaten up a lot of her resources.
Her goats have been multiplying slowly. She now has six. But she doesn’t want to start selling any yet, especially not to take care of her expenses. She’s planning to sell some off when there are enough to allow her to buy a cow with the proceeds. She wants a cow because it can unlock even larger investments, eventually making it possible for her to buy land to add to what she and her husband already have.
Once she’s feeling better, she’ll get back to her small commerce. She now has over 4500 gourds, or about $75, in it. That is about three times what we initially provided, and is very encouraging, especially for a woman who has as many mouths to feed as Rosana does. She lives with her eight children and her grandchild, so keep them from eating everything takes considerable discipline.