Things are going well for Altagrace. We originally gave her three goats, and now she has six. Hers haven’t really reproduced yet, but she’s created some opportunities for herself to buy the additional ones.
For one thing, she and her husband had a good bean harvest because they got their crop planted early spring. Families in the area who decided to plant in March this year were generally successful, while those who waited until April were not. She and her husband planted in late March, so while their crop was not great, it was good.
They planted 13 coffee cans of beans in two plantings. She used 2500 gourds of savings from her cash stipend for the first planting, and 2000 gourds that she borrowed from her Village Savings and Loan Association for the second one. They harvested 37 cans. She used 2850 gourds from her harvest to buy a large nanny goat and 1800 gourds to buy a smaller buck. “I bought the buck because we sometimes have trouble finding them to mount our females, but I’m going to sell him at the end of the summer to help send the kids to school.”
She bought another female with 2000 gourds that the CLM program gave her to replace money that she lost because she accepted counterfeit bills the first time she tried to set up a business. She’s like to start a business again, but the model that appeals to her won’t work without a horse, donkey, or mule. She wants to buy loads of produce from farmers along the hillsides on each side of the river that runs from eastern Savanette to Mirebalais, and bring it to market for sale. She’s hoping that she’ll be able to buy the horse she needs once she sells her fall harvest of beans.
One of the most striking things about my conversation with Altagrace, however, was how confident she’s grown of her own worth. When I first met her she was shy, happy to let her husband do most of the talking for her. And he seemed to want to do the talking for them, too. He spent a lot of that first conversation ridiculing Altagrace, making fun of her because she had to leave school pregnant when she was just 13. He spoke dismissively of her and of her mother, whom they live with, too.
When I reminded her of the episode now, she just laughed. “He was just joking. He knows very well what I’ve done for him.”