If anyone can attest to the curveballs of life, it would be Mrs. Syliane Francois. Having endured a painful childhood, her adult years have not been a cake walk either. 9 years ago, she lost her husband, and was left to care for 7 children, of which only 2 are her biological son and daughter. Despite the difficulties, her determination to prosper has remained steadfast. She says “In an environment where it is very difficult economically, especially for women, I always had the chance to demonstrate my competencies.”
Prior to her husband’s death, he had been employed as a well drilling technician for Haiti Outreach. At his funeral service, Country Director, Neil Van Dine felt it necessary to ensure that this late man’s family be provided for, so he offered Mrs. Francois a job to work as a housekeeper in the guest house.
The transition came with a steep learning curve but getting a grasp on the role was not impossible. Having already gained 9 years of experience managing her own home, many of her skills were directly transferable. The most profound change was due to the fact that the number of people to serve and level responsibilities were greater. She admitted, “In the beginning it was not easy, but as the years have gone by, things have become less and less difficult. It was a challenge for me to adapt to the job because everything before was all about my husband. In the guest house, when there are a lot of visitors, everything must be prepared on time, such as the food, the linens, laundry, cleaning, and such. It took some time to adapt, but now I can do my work with my eyes closed!” says she, smiling.
This experience has given her not only more freedom in all her personal and professional activities, but also, it has allowed her to encourage other women to be strong even in the worst moments. “The workplace in Haiti is usually made up of men. So when I meet a woman, I push her, and advise her not to let go … I try to make that difference.”
“Though I may not have a lot, I can do a lot with what I have” Syliane states with conviction, “I always try to keep a smile on my face and encourage the other women around me.”
Her goal is to pursue entrepreneurship or a trade, but this aspiration will definitely not come without some challenges, in particular as a woman. She expressed, “It is difficult and almost impossible to succeed in a field that has traditionally been reserved for men. Businesswomen are few here in Haiti. Nevertheless, I cannot give up on my destiny, or believing in a better tomorrow. There is a cost to success, but it is worth it.” Asserts Mrs. Francois.