9/19/2008, Boucan Carre, Haiti
My name is Marie Therese Jean Paul and I am 51 years old. My husband and I are separated. I have five children and three grandchildren. Three of my children and two grandchildren live with me. The grandchildren's mother left them when their father died.
I began the Chemen Lavi Miyò (CLM) program in May 2007. Before I was in CLM, the wind blew off my roof. Fonkoze gave me tin for my roof, and also gave me cement to make the walls of my house stronger. My life was not good before I started the CLM program. In order to eat, I used to go to my neighbors and help them with whatever they were doing so that they would give me food. Now I'm growing my own vegetables and can cook my own food. I couldn't afford cement, but now I have cement walls and a roof. I have a child in school now, which is only possible because of the program.
With the 1,500 gourds (almost $40) that Fonkoze gave me when I started CLM, I was able to lease a piece of land on which to grow rice. I bought seeds and paid people to help me plant the field. All of my money is invested in my crops, so when I need money for food, I harvest okra to sell. After I make some money from my fields, I'll start up my small commerce again. I'll work in the fields early in the morning, then go to the market to buy sugar in bulk. I resell the sugar to people who have small shops.
I currently spend all of my time in the field. I spend one week in the rice field, pulling weeds and cleaning up the field. Then I spend the next week in my sweet potato field doing the same thing. On an average day I start working at three o'clock in the morning. Around noon I return home and make something to eat. I sleep in the afternoon and work around the house or in my garden. When I'm working I eat one meal, but if I'm not working in the field, I'll make soup in the morning and eat vegetables and rice later in the day.
The sweet potatoes that I planted this month will be ready to harvest in December. I'm not going to harvest them until March because I can sell them then for a higher price. Someone gave me the sweet potato vines. They were growing on the other side of the river, so I wrapped them up and carried them back here on my head.
My rice plants were on leased land next to the river, but the flood from Hurricane Hanna washed them away. I not only lost the plants and my investment in the land, but also still had to feed the people who helped me plant the rice. I need more rice, so I plan to help people in their fields in exchange for plants. When the flood water recedes, I'll replant the leased land next to the river with okra.
I couldn't have afforded to buy any animals before I began the CLM program, but Fonkoze gave me three goats. I've been breeding them and now I have eight. I also had chickens, but people would steal them so I don't keep chickens anymore. I have two pigs and with whatever money is left over after I harvest my rice and sweet potatoes, I plan to buy a cow.
Because of Chemen Lavi Miyò, I am becoming self-sufficient. I am proud to be able to provide for myself and my family.
-transcribed by Ben Depp