Last week I saw Josamène Loréliant for the first time in several years. I took a picture of her sitting with her son, Dieupuissant. She is featured in To Fool the Rain, our book about the CLM program. Her story is a powerful one. She learned not only how to support her family, but also how to insist on her own value, insist that she the respect that she — that indeed everyone — deserves.
In the following excerpt from the chapter that describes her experience, we see Josamène reject the derogatory nickname — Ti Rizib — that had been hers all her life:
All through the [naming] game, [Josamène] insisted on the use of her full, real name, Josamène Loreliant, even in the middle of a community of women who had known her only by her nickname for all the decades she had lived among them. When one of the case managers who was present mistakenly referred to her as Ti Rizib later in the meeting, she sniped audibly, “You too?” He apologized immediately. Lwidòn still calls her Ti Rizib, and when I asked Josamène whether that bothers her, she joked, “I ignore him.”
When I go by to visit them these days, it takes some time before she will talk with me. Uniquely among hundreds of women I’ve worked with, when Josamène sees me she disappears into her house. It is no longer because she wants to hide, the way she did the first time I came looking for her. She goes inside to wash her face and put on a clean dress and sandals. She doesn’t want me to see her any old way. This is especially striking because of how slovenly I tend to be. But appearance is now important to this woman, who is no longer Ti Rizib.
Here’s a link to further information about the book: