Yvette: About One Year In

Yvette lives with her partner Edson and their boy just behind and beneath the main church in Ramye, which sits on top of a hill. Since she joined the CLM program, she has started to construct a vision. She has been able to carry out needed repairs on her home, and she plans to buy a cow by the end of the year, when her VSLA’s first one-year cycle ends.

She chose goats and poultry as her enterprises. The goats have made some small progress. She received two from Fonkoze. They are healthy and growing, but have not yet reproduced. She thinks they might finally be pregnant. She bought a young buck recently to add to her collection.

Her poultry has been less successful. She received three turkeys, but one died and one disappeared. It is hard to know what happened to the one that disappeared, but turkeys are subject to death and theft.

She says that would like to start a small commerce, but she doesn’t see how she can. She has nothing to invest, she explains.

This is where things get curious. She has been able to make the maximum weekly contribution to her VSLA every week because her partner is happy to give her the cash. He gives her all the cash she uses for household expenses, and he bought the materials for their home repair. He is showing himself to be a willing partner. He works sometimes fishing, sometimes felling trees and cutting them into planks. But when her case manager Dieunel asks Yvette whether she could ask Edson for money to invest in small commerce, she hesitates.

This is a very common way for a woman to start a business in rural Haiti. A man gets paid for a farming job or some other kind of labor, and he gives some of the money to his partner so she can start commerce. It helps his family a lot. He may continue to be the principal earner, but if his money continues to come in occasional lump sums, having a partner with even a small daily trickle of income can make a big difference.

So one would imagine that he’d be happy to support her initiative. There are men who are afraid of the measure of independence that a woman with her own income has. And there are women who are afraid that, if they start to earn an income, their partner will stop helping them out. Yvette knows her partner better than we do and she knows herself, too, but it all seems like something that would be worth looking into.

So Dieunel will need to talk more with her about the possibility. This could involve conversations over a couple of weeks’ of visits. Depending on what she tells him, he may want to talk with Edson, too, or with both together. Ultimately, any decision stands to affect both of them and their boy.