Check out the new video featuring the work of our Chemen Lavi Miyo (“Pathway to a Better Life”) case managers, produced by Haitian film students at the Cine Institute and funded by our partner Artists for Haiti:
by Communications team member Ben Wiselogle
This past Friday, I had the privilege to see what the first step out of poverty looks like for women beginning Fonkoze’s Chemen Lavi Miyò (“Pathway to a Better Life”) program. Traveling northeast from Port-au-Prince to the central city of Mibalè, I had an hour to imagine what this lansman (“launching” in Kreyòl) ceremony would look like. Attending the event over the course of the day opened my eyes to the depth of commitment that Fonkoze offers these women, and the trust that they place in their CLM case managers as they navigate the road to a better life.
As the church where the lansman would be held slowly filled with women and their fellow community members, I saw many different emotions on their faces. I saw pride, excitement, humor, and more than a few looks of apprehension. These women were putting their faith in the Fonkoze family, specifically their case managers, that if they continued with the program for 18 months, they would finish with better lives for themselves and their families than when they started.
Over the course of the day, I saw many of the women’s emotions shift from apprehension to confidence and genuine excitement. With the direct emotional support and encouragement of their case managers, they prepared to open up their homes and their lives to holistically address the challenges they face as the very poorest in rural Haiti.
In addition to an inspiring speech by Gauthier Dieudonné, Chemen Lavi Miyò Director, prayer led by the local pastor, and a demonstration on the water filtration units they received during the ceremony, the women received their new ID cards, granting them access to health services through Zanmi Lasante (Partners In Health’s sister organization in Haiti). For me, it was a great example of Fonkoze’s holistic commitment to helping women overcome potential obstacles to their success. In addition to support from Village Assistance Committees specializing in conflict resolution, enterprise management training, and home improvement materials and guidance, Fonkoze provides members with medical resources so that they can continue to work for their brighter futures free from health worries.
Perhaps the best example of this burgeoning partnership was the final act of the event when the members signed their contracts, demonstrating their commitment to do all they can to improve their lives working shoulder to shoulder with Fonkoze. Upon graduation, the women will be food secure, have their children enrolled in school if they’re of age, and most importantly, they will have a plan for their future and the confidence and skills to make it happen. Whether signing her name or using her thumbprint, each woman actively took her first step onto an exciting, but challenging, path.