Altagrace Brevil 5

Altagrace and her husband have completed construction of one of the largest houses that we have seen among CLM members in Kolonbyè. The key was her decision to build the house together with her mother. She and her family were sharing her widowed mother’s home when she joined the CLM program, and their initial thought was to move out. “Parents get to be a nuisance. She and my husband were always arguing.”

But the more she thought about it, the less sense it made to her. On one hand, they would have a hard time mobilizing all the resources they’d need to get the house built. On the other, she started thinking about her mother. Altagrace is the only one among her siblings who lives nearby. If she moved out entirely, the older woman would be left alone. So she and her mother talked, and they talked with her husband, and then decided to pool their resources, enlarging and completing a house that her mother had already started rather than building a new one from scratch.

Their shared home has four rooms and a covered space across the front, and Altagrace is really happy about it. Like most CLM members, she talks about not getting wet in the rain any more. “And the house could never have been finished without CLM.”

Altagrace has been taking good care of her livestock. One of her goats had kids, and she used savings to buy another mature female to add to her small herd.

But she and her family depend primarily on agriculture, and unlike some of the other famers we’ve been working with, this year’s first harvest is very promising for her. She got together the resources she’d need to plant 13 cans of beans. That’s over $40 worth. She took some of the money from savings that came from home construction. The CLM program provides two stipends of 1500 gourds to the builders who work on members’ homes. One for the person who sets up the frame and puts on the roof, and the other for the person who builds up the walls. Because they only had to complete a project that had been started, her builders only charged 1000 gourds each, and Altagrace held on to the other 1000 gourds. Then she borrowed 2000 gourds from her savings and loan association, figuring that she and her husband would be able to make her reimbursements out of his day labor and the occasional sale of avocados. And like many of the farmers in her region who got their beans into the ground early, she’s now looking at a harvest that appears as though it will be strong.