Altagrace Brevil 2

Altagrace is having a rough time. Two of her children have been sick, and she’s caught a persistent cold too.

But her bigger problem is her small commerce. She started one with 2500 gourds. She would buy plantains locally and sell them in Mibalè. She would only go to Mibalè once a week, but she could make 500 gourds – about $7.50 – each trip. She’d buy her plantains for 2000 gourds, and then rent two pack animals to carry them to Kafou Flande, on the main highway to Mibalè. The rental and then the transportation to Mibalè would cost almost another 500 gourds.

But the last time she went, someone paid her with two 1000-gourd bills, and she gave change. When she got home from the market, she learned that the bills were counterfeit. It was almost a total loss. So she’s back to zero.

She’d like to return to the business again. “I like being in business,” she says. And she is starting to build up savings from her weekly cash stipend that she could invest. But she can’t access her savings because she’s afraid to ask her case manager about it. “M pa renmen lè yo fè m malonèt,” she explains. That means that she doesn’t like it when someone makes her feel embarrassed. “M renmen wont.”

That is a little harder to translate. It looks like it means that she likes to be ashamed, but of course it means just the opposite. It means that she’s prone to feeling ashamed. She’s afraid to ask her case manager because she thinks he might say something harsh.

It is a problem for both her and her case manager that she’s not yet comfortable enough with him to bring up so important a question. The two of them will have to face her fear in the coming weeks and months.