Katiana Elismé: Thirteen Months

Katiana lives in Janviye, a neighborhood in Dezam, the easternmost section of Verèt Commune, in central Haiti. She lives width her husband, the four-year-old, and Katianaś younger sister.

When they joined the program just over a year ago, they were in a bad state. Her husband is a hard-working laborer. “He’ll do any job he can find.” But he wasn’t finding work often enough. Whenever he did find work, Katiana would set aside a few gourds from his earnings to buy candy and crackers, which she’d sell in front of the local school. But the two together could not earn enough to make a reasonable living. They had no home, so they were sleeping in the corner of a neighbor willing to give them a little space, and they were unable to send their daughter to school.

Katiana chose goats and small commerce, and she received two small nannies and 5000 gourds to invest in commerce. She has not yet been able to increase her goats’ value very much. Each of the two she was given miscarried its first litter under her care. Both, however, are now pregnant. She used money from her savings club, or sòl, to buy a third goat.

Her commerce has been much more important to her. When she first received CLM’s investment, she just added to her business, but she soon realized that she had too much money to invest just in crackers and candy. She started making fritay, a generic term that includes a range of fried snacks. When she saw the New Year approaching, she took most of the money out of her various snack businesses and invested in the kind of new housewares that families like to by to start off a new year.

As her business prospered, she was able to invest in various ways. She and her husband worked together to finance completion of the home that the CLM program helped them with. It stands on a piece of land that belongs to her dad.

She started sending their girl to school, and plans to start sending her little sister as well next fall. She also bought turkeys and paid into her savings and loan association.

The savings and loan association investment has turned out to be important, though she was initially skeptical. “[The CLM team] said we all should join, so I decided to give it a try. I didn’t want to appear stubborn.”

When a neighbor needed some cash, he put a cow up for sale for 25,000 gourds. Katiana made the purchase by borrowing 15,000 from the association for a down-payment. She’s been making the scheduled reimbursements on time with her husband’s help, and when the association completes its one-year cycle, she will receive everything that she’s saved, and that money will allow her to pay the balance.

And the cow is important to her. “We used to live in someone else’s house. Now we have our own house, but it’s on my father’s land. We want to buy the land ourselves.”

“Since we joined the program, we feel good. We don’t take the chance lightly. We don’t waste what we have. I want to keep making progress even after it is over.”