Helping future leaders in Haiti take flight with Koze Jen
by Communications team member Ben Wiselogle
On Monday, March 10th, on the first day of a five-day training program to teach financial literacy to young Haitian women in the coastal city of Jakmel, a partnership for the future was strengthened. That’s what Fonkoze does for their members and clients. It is not an organization that gives assistance and leaves, but continues along the path with them as they seek to better their lives.
Team 2 before their financial problem solving exercise
Specifically, Koze Jen (or, “it’s a your affair” in Kreyol) is about developing capacity, collaboration, and community between Fonkoze and the 15-24 year old women who enter the program. Covering topics such as budget development, identifying the difference between needs and wants, planning and preparing for emergencies, and creating and utilizing a financial diary, this initiative is designed to help these future leaders fly on their own.
Project director Natacha Blanc, and volunteer leader Suze Nozil
Although over the course of the week roughly 150 young people participated in this workshop, the group we worked with on Monday numbered 25. In the small community center with concrete floors and a thatched roof located off of a rough dirt road, the women gathered into groups of five and took part in sophisticated financial problem solving. With a light in their eyes and completely enthralled in their team discussions, they set about to answer the day’s hypothetical financial problem; how to prioritize their funds with rent due and a baby to feed, with the temptation of a new cell phone just out of reach.
These young women didn’t just silently mull the issue over, but attacked the problem with the passion of people who see these sorts of balancing acts every day. After fifteen minutes had passed, one leader per group got up and clearly articulated her team’s findings to the rest of the attendees, and answered guiding question after question from the instructor, Frantz Voltaire. Not once did I see the presenters falter, but instead reassessed their answers and proceeded with a clearer or more nuanced course of action.
Group 1 solving their financial riddle
What we saw that day was an independent and capable future for Haiti. Women who were taking charge of their financial health and striving for their potential as people. As Davins put it when describing her motivations for joining the savings group,
“I’m saving so that I can be independent and not a burden on my family. I can now purchase the school supplies I need with my own money”.
These are not passive observers of their lives, but active participants, and Fonkoze is proud to stand shoulder to shoulder with them as they begin to fly.
Program participant and group leader Louis Joleine
To learn more about how you can get involved or support this program, please contact Natacha Blanc at firstname.lastname@example.org