Larose: Just Getting Started

Larose and her partner live in Koray, a narrow, hilly corner of Gwomòn, north of the downtown area. The long, winding road that leads into Koray from the main road to the north crosses and recrosses the same river, over and over, making the area hard to reach after heavy rain.

They have five young children. The oldest is eleven. The two oldest go to school, but Larose worries that they have fallen behind. “They missed some years because we didn’t have money.”

The couple was never wealthy, but they used to manage more or less. They farmed their owned land and other plots that they would rent. They planted peanuts, beans, corn plantain, and cassava. Larose also managed a small grocery business, selling both at the local market and out of the couple’s home.

But all the means they once had at their disposal disappeared. Their third child, a five-year-old boy is severely disabled. He struggles just to sit and has trouble supporting the weight of his head with his neck. He can whisper a few indistinct words, but cannot say very much.

The couple took him anywhere they thought they might be able to find help for him, bringing him to several large clinics in Pòtoprens, but they got no help. Their last visit was to a clinic run by an American non-profit, where they received an estimate of over 160,000 gourds for a brace and the follow-up that would be required.

That’s about $2000. By then, however, the couple had nothing. Larose’s business was gone. They could not afford to rent farmland or even to plant their own land. Her partner would look for day-labor — 100 gourds or so — in the neighbors’ fields. It isn’t even enough to feed the children consistently. Sometimes Larose depends on gifts of food that neighbors send.

She is looking forward to the opportunity that the program is offering her. She’d like to receive money for small commerce and to plant their fields. She thinks the she and her partner will be able to support themselves and start saving in a local savings and loan association. Saving money is important, she says. “When I have some means at my disposal, I want to have somewhere that I can lay my hands on some money when I need to.”

In the long-tern, she’d like to move away from Koray. She wants to live in downtown Gwomòn because she thinks that she’ll have more opportunities there.