By Sister Beth Dempsey
I went to Gros Morne, Haiti, 18 months ago for the launch of Mercy Focus on Haiti’s (MFOH) first cohort of 200 Haitian women in the Chemen Lavi Miyo (CLM) program. I remember thinking to myself, how will it be possible for these women to be able, even with the help of CLM staff, to change their lives in 18 months?
I returned to Gros Morne a year and a half later for the graduation of these same women. But they weren’t the same women!
As soon as I walked into the outdoor church and saw the women seated, I knew a transformation had taken place. They were all in white Fonkoze* shirts, their hair had been carefully done, and more importantly they were smiling. I had chills!
The women were transformed!
Eight women gave witness of what had happened in their lives over the last 18 months. They were able to stand in front of their peers and 400 guests and say:
- I was going to commit suicide and now I have a roof on my house.
- I had nothing to give my children. I now am able to buy my piece of property and built my house.
- My husband died before I started CLM and he left me nothing. I now have 8 goats and chickens.
- After this graduation I am going to buy a cow.
- I know what it means to provide for my family.
I was so proud of what these women were able to accomplish. But more importantly, it’s what I saw in their faces, in their eyes. There was hope. There was spirit as they sang in Creole about their CLM experience.
*Fonkoze is a family of organizations that works together to provide financial and other services to empower Haitians—primarily women, but including some disabled men—to lift their families out of ultra-poverty.