Laumène François 3

Laumène has been making progress since she joined the CLM program. “Things are starting to work for me, except that some of my livestock died.” Work on her new house is moving forward, but it’s slow. “I had eleven good sheets of tin that were covering half of my old house, and I thought I should add them to what CLM gave me. That would give me a bigger house.” But the bigger house means that she will have to spend more than other women do to complete the project, and with her livestock not yet ready to provide income, finding the extra money she needs is slow.

One of her goats had its first pair of kids, and she feels good about that, but one of the kids died. “I’d be more discouraged if I had lost the mother.” The other is pregnant, and should have its first litter soon. Her sow had six piglets, but rolled over and smothered four of them when they were first born. Laumène is determined to keep close watch over the last two. She knows if she can protect them until the are ready for sale, she’ll have a good way to move her life forward.

She manages her stipend carefully. In addition to the portion she saves with her case manager, she always tries to set aside something at home. She managed to save enough to by a pair of ducks, and she made a little basin in her mountainside yard so that they’d have some water to play around in.

Her case manager Martinière has been trying to convince her to start a small commerce. She has plenty of savings that she could use to begin. Her weekly stipends will stop in just a few weeks, and Martinière wants her to have a plan for feeding her kids once that happens, even if the beginning she can make is small. He explains with a proverb, “Boukane tann bouyi.” That means “Roast while you’re waiting to boil,” and it refers to the way that Haitian children will put something — sweet potatoes or corn, for example — to roast quickly in the fire while they’re waiting for a meal to cook in the pot above it. Laumène may not be ready to get into a bigger business, but Martinière wants her to get something going while she works for something big.

He doesn’t insist, though, because she explains her reason. “If my husband sees that I have my own activity he’ll stop contributing to the household entirely. He has another wife.” She says that once her husband puts a woman in a house, he leaves the rest of the household expenses to her.

Her plan is to wait until he helps her finish her house — he’s providing much of the lumber — and then she’ll start her business. She wants to sell groceries out of her home and rum. She’s especially confident about the rum. “You listen for noises at night, and whenever you hear a celebration, you put your gallon of rum in your bag and go sell. You won’t ever come home without money in your pocket.”