Monise lives in Kaprens, a broad area stretching above and to the west of Fon Desanm. She’s 25 and has three children, with a fourth on the way. She lives in a small house with her mother and some sisters. They live in the same yard that Monise grew up in. She’s tried making it in Port au Prince, working as a maid, but she says that the people who hire women like her don’t pay.
Her mother has always had the principal responsibility for the whole family, farming her land. She also used to manage a small commerce, borrowing the capital she needed from local loan sharks. But as she’s aged, the work and the running around that commerce requires have become too much for her. She now just farms. And her decision has come at a price: Ever since she stopped running her small business, the family has known hunger more and more frequently.
Monise chose goats and small commerce, and has had experience of both. She said that she used to keep goats that her mother would give her occasionally out of her own goats’ young, but they’ve passed over the years when she’s had to spend money to take care of her kids. Until recently, she managed a small commerce, buying produce locally and taking it for sale in Port au Prince, but the business was based on a local leader’s willingness to lend her the money. She had no capital of her own. When the leader decided to stop give her loans, her business just stopped.
She spent some time in school when she was young, and can sign her name without difficulty. But when her case manager, Martinière, asked her to read the weekly lesson so that he could evaluate how much she knows and how he can help her, she initially claimed to be unable. But Martinière can be bossy when he wants to be, and he pushed. And it eventually emerged that she recognizes the letters and can stumble through a simple text. She appears, however, reluctant to struggle.
At this stage, members are working on getting the materials they need in place for their latrines. The program provides cement, rebar, pvc, and pays the builder, but members have to dig the pit and provide the sand, water, and gravel. Monise is far behind other members in the area collecting the sand and gravel she’ll need. It’s a short hike straight downhill to the riverbed where she can find it, but lugging it back up is challenging, especially for a pregnant woman. Monise has siblings she could mobilize, however, and Martinière is convinced that she’s just not yet committed enough to the work. He turns to her mother as they discuss the issue. The older woman seems very much in charge of the household. And she promises to get behind the effort. They agree on a deadline for the work, and Martinière writes their decision into Monise’s notebook.