Enel: Six Months into the Program

Edeline, her husband Enel, and their two small boys joined the CLM program last fall. They were living in Ramye, a small and secluded area between Wòch Milat and downtown Laskawobas.

The selection process missed them at first. At the time, they didn’t have their own home. They were staying in Edeline’s mother’s house, and no one mentioned Edeline, Enel, and the kids as a separate household at the CLM team’s community meeting. As the CLM team began to work in the neighborhood, however, the couple’s need became clear. Fortunately, Fonkoze was able to add 50 families to the 100 it initially selected in the area, so Edeline and Enel were able to join in.

They had been really struggling. Their main source of income was construction jobs that Enel would take in Pòtoprens. He has a brother-in-law who’s a builder, and he’s happy to take Enel onto his team as a laborer. That would mean leaving his wife and their boys for weeks at a time, but Enel was resigned to it. “Things are hard. If you can get a job, you take it.”

Early in 2020, Edeline got sick. Their second son was an infant, and Enel was really concerned. “I did everything I could.” He took her to two different Partners in Health hospitals, and she eventually recovered. But the expenses of getting her to and from the care ran through most of their money, even though the care itself was almost free of charge.

When they joined the CLM program, her health was much improved, but the improvement did not last. Edeline grew sicker and sicker until she passed away in February. Enel was left as a single father of boys two and three years old. The CLM team decided to continue to work with him in Edeline’s place.

By this point, Enel and Edeline had moved into their own small house, built with the program’s assistance, on a piece of land that Edeline’s mother gave them. Enel took care of the livestock that the program gave them. His close attention to their goats have kept them flourishing even as other goats in the neighborhood have suffered from a shortage of food during the dry season. Their pig got sick and died, and though they were able to sell it quickly to a butcher, all the money that came in from that sale passed through their hands to pay Edeline’s medical expenses. Burying his wife forced Enel to take on debt.

Since her death, Enel has continued to struggle. The only way he can think to earn income would be to go to Pòtoprens and work for his brother-in-law, but he doesn’t feel comfortable leaving the boys or, for that matter, his goats. Right now, he depends on irregular charity from his friends.

Recently his sister called him. Through her, his brother-in-law was offering him two weeks of work. He doesn’t see how he can refuse, but he wants to talk to his case manager before he decides. He thinks he can drop his younger boy off with his mother, who lives down the river from Ramye, near Bagas. The older boy is in school, so he will ask the sister-in-law, who lives next door, to look after him. A local teenager has been sleeping in his home with him and the boys since Edeline died, and that boy is willing to look after the goats.

A life mostly away for his boys, however, is not what Enel wants. He knows they need him. And he has an idea of a way to start a business that would allow him to live at home. He wants to buy and sell livestock. He would go to the market in the morning, buy low and sell high. It can be a lucrative business for someone who really knows animals and is a strong negotiator. He could start with chickens, work up to turkeys, and move on to goats when he has enough capital. If he’s careful about taking care of goats, he can also by sick, low-value goats, and care for them until they recover their value, and then sell them.

But even just getting started with chickens will take some capital, and after the funeral expenses, he just doesn’t have it. If he goes to work for his brother-in-law, he might make enough to begin in a small way. He is also saving money in the savings and loan association that Edeline joined when she entered the program, but he’s afraid to borrow money. “If something happens to money you borrow, it’s a problem.” And the association won’t pay out his savings until the end of the cycle, which is months away. This is something his case manager will have to help him figure out.

And his desire to start and build a business fits into a larger plan. On one hand, he is not comfortable living on land that belongs to his deceased wife’s parents. They have been unwilling so far to even talk about selling it to him. They want to him to think of it as his. They tell him that they owe it to their daughter’s kids. But he worries. He’s not yet even 30, and though his wife died only recently, he knows that he won’t want to live his life alone. He doesn’t think a woman will be willing to move into a house built on his first wife’s family’s land. And even before Edeline’s death, he always told his in-laws that he wanted to pay for the land. He thought and still thinks of buying the land that his family lives on as a man’s responsibility. So he wants to discuss a purchase with them, and they just won’t talk about it.

On the other hand, he doesn’t see himself living in Ramye forever. He doesn’t like how remote it is. He dreams of moving with the boys to a house closer to downtown Laskawobas. With its easy access to multiple large livestock markets, it would really help him build the business he hopes to establish, and it would also mean better schools for his boys.

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