In the town *Woukou, resides two audacious young ladies named Modeline (age 11) and Rose (age 13) who both dream of becoming nurses one day. Rose explained, “We want to become nurses to support our family and take care of the sick. There are so many people suffering in Haiti who need care, and we would like to help them. That will be our way of contributing to the development of our country.”
To realize their dream, these two young entrepreneurs have invested in creating their own business! On weekends, when not in school, they circulate the streets of their town selling sachets of coffee powder, sugar, breads and candy.
“We are from disadvantaged families,” says Rose, with a bowl filled with little bags of coffee powder. “If we really want to make our dreams come true, we need to start now.”
Modeline is the fourth of nine children and has seen firsthand the difficulties faced by her parents. Her mother works in the frying business, and her father makes and shines shoes. Three years ago, she decided to help her family by selling bread, sugar and candies. Her mother was reluctant at first, but eventually accepted her daughter’s initiative. “Our parents could not provide for us, or guarantee a meal each day, so I chose to help them. It has certainly paid off,” says Modeline.
Each week, these young girls invest just 150 to 175 gourdes in their business to obtain about 260 gourdes of profits (a little less than 3 dollars). They save their hard-earned revenue in a very strong wooden chest. Both Rose and Modeline see the value of hard work in business and of incorporating their education in their future success. Modeline, sporting an apricot shirt and lemon-yellow skirt, the 7th grade school uniform, expressed that, “School can help us better understand certain situations and better manage the business.”
Their efforts have not come without challenges though, as they regularly endure mockery and humiliation from classmates. “Our beginnings were not easy,” says Rose, who was humiliated at school. “Our classmates looked down on and denigrated us, but we’ve kept up. Eventually, those who belittled us joined our efforts!” Rose shared with a broad smile.
Peer pressure has not been their only obstacle to overcome. As they make their rounds, they risk great dangers that occur walking along the streets to sell their products. They are exposed to unruly bikers, open sewers on every street corner, and other dangers. Rose shared that, “one time, a motorcyclist knocked me down, and I was left with a broken arm.”
Despite the risks, they remain focused on their future dream of attending nursing school to be able to care for their fellow Haitians one day. This drive to earn income not only supports their future dream but provides for their immediate needs as well. Modeline expressed, “it’s not the ideal business, but it gives me a certain independence. I can eat, I buy clothes, and pay for my own school fees.”
These brave girls embody responsibility, courage, honor and pride. They take the bull by the horns and serve as an inspiration for others. Rather than believing their circumstances will prevent them from realizing their dreams, they have found creative ways to rise above their challenges and make a better life for themselves, their families, and their communities.
*Woukou = located in the commune of Ouanaminthe which is in the north-east corner of Haiti on the Dominican border