In Baja, located in a communal section of Wech, a rural area in the north-east of Haiti, Fadette serves as one of the members of the well management committee set up by Haiti Outreach in her community.
In addition to her work on the water management committee, she has proven herself to be a diligent sales-woman as well. The products she takes to market are: vegetables, militon*, carrots, tomatoes and other ingredients used to prepare food. Despite her industrious efforts, her profits remain meager. Nevertheless, it helps her to provide daily meals for her family and others in her community.
As the sole breadwinner for her family, she shared, “I am a widow with 4 children. My husband passed away 7 years ago, and my life has been unstable ever since.” In an attempt to earn more money than she could in Baja, she crossed the border to find work in the Dominican Republic, but each time she faced deportation. During her last deportation she shared, “I worked as a maid down in the capital of the Dominican Republic for 4 years. I was deported with two of my children who were living there with me while the other two were still in Haiti. A bus took us from Santo Domingo to Elias Pina where my money was stolen. After spending a night in a detention center with my children, we were sent back to the border point of Elias Pina-Belladère. From there, I had to borrow money to make it back here to Baja to find my other two children. Fortunately, we arrived safe and sound. ”
The story of Fadette is common for many Haitians who cross the border in search of work and a better future for themselves and their families. Despite the challenges, and meager gains from her sales, she takes great pride in her work. Beaming, she expressed, “I like this trade business. It’s a great first for me. I had never been a merchant in my life. I sell my business next to my house. It’s very convenient not only to manage the well with the committee and also to earn my daily bread. ”
Serving on the well management committee has also served to enrichen her business savvy. Smiling as she sells tomatoes to a customer, she shares what she’s learned though the training process about financial responsibility, “The secret of a good shopkeeper is to know how to talk to people, to know the value of each item, and not to give credit. We must also be careful not to spend more than we are certain to earn. If you make ten goudes then don’t eat 15 gourdes*! That’s what I learned from my training with the Haiti Outreach animator, ” she exclaims as she counts her money. “Thanks to the advice of the field animators, I learned to manage my profits and generate more savings.”
Applying all of her new learning, Fadette remains very active not only in business but on the well management committee. She ensures that each community member has complete access to the books so that they can see how their monthly contributions are being used for the good of the entire community. Her leadership and organizational skills have earned her a great deal of positive respect and rapport amidst her people. When there are issues that arise within the community, she is able to help resolve them with class and clarity. Indeed, she works tirelessly between running her small business, serving on the water management committee, and caring for her four children, but for her, it is pure joy to have the opportunities.
*gourdes is the Haitian currency