Laumène François 6

Laumène has reached a difficult moment. It’s a struggle just to keep her household fed. The timing of the spring and summer rains killed her bean crop. She planted in April, and the spring rains stopped too early for her. “The folks who planted in March are the ones who did well this year,” she explains. The family is getting by for the moment main on roasted corn on the cob.

Part of the problem is that her first small commerce disappeared. Between keeping her children fed and wanting to buy at least one 50-gourd share in her savings and loan association every week, her investment withered away.

But she re-established her business with a 1500-gourd loan from her association. She’ll repay it with interest over the next three months. Though her investment is small, she sells a lot of different things: local rum, cooking oil, two different kinds of rice, salami, and macaroni. She keeps track of and restocks each item separately, buying a little bit of anything that’s low whenever she goes to market. She likes to sell a range of products because, “if they don’t ask you for one thing, you need them to need another one.”

She is concerned these days because the school year is approaching and with four of her children the right age to be in school, she’s not yet sure how she will send them or whether she’ll be able to. The small, inexpensive school that had been struggling to function just up the slope from her home appears to have failed, and sending her kids to another one, which will involve their having to ford the river below her home every day, will be more expensive. She has livestock, but not enough that she’s ready to start selling any off. She still has only three goats – though one is pregnant – and her sow. Her first litter of piglets died.

Her poultry is doing better. Her two turkeys are growing quickly, but though she purchased what she thought was a young pair, she now sees that she has two hens. She’ll have to see about buying a gobbler. Her two ducks are flourishing. Here again, she has discovered that she has two females and will need to see about a drake, but in the meantime one of her ducks has seven ducklings and the other has a nest of ten eggs, so she has some reason for hope.