Hurricane Matthew destroyed everything: her home and busineses; her garden; and her livestock. Now, in the wake of the storm, Marie-Julienne Laine says that she and her three children sleep anywhere they can find in their community outside of Okay. It has been raining for three straight days, and new floods are threatening her region again—less than three weeks after Matthew left Haiti.
It all would be more bearable if her husband could carry this burden with her, but he was killed in a car accident six year ago, shortly after the 2010 earthquake. At the time, Marie-Julienne’s children were 4, 11, and 14 years old, and she knew that their lives depended on her ability to move forward in the face of tragedy. And so, she turned to Fonkoze. “After the death of my husband,” she says, “Fonkoze became my only partner.”
Back then, she had been a Fonkoze client for almost nine years, and she threw herself into her small business. With advice from her Fonkoze Loan Officer, she did her best to stock products that would bring the most profit. She was able to send her children to school, and she even made enough money to purchase livestock. She planted a garden that not only provided food for her family but produced a surplus that she could often sell in the market.
She became so successful that the other clients in her credit center elected her to become their Center Chief. By virtue of her leadership, she was selected to join the Boutik Sante (Community Health Store) Program in 2015. Boutik Sante trains Fonkoze clients like Marie-Julienne to become Community Health Entrepreneurs. They sell over-the-counter health products and deliver basic screening services in their communities; it is an innovative way of expanding access to health products and services in some of the most rural parts of Haiti.
Now, Marie-Julienne is turning to Fonkoze again, and she knows that her new role as a Community Health Entrepreneur is critical as the country faces a worsening cholera epidemic. “It’s more important than ever for me to continue supplying my neighborhood with water purification tablets and oral rehydration salts in case of an emergency.”
She and other Community Health Entrepreneurs met with Fonkoze nurses at the Okay branch office to launch the Cholera Awareness and Prevention Campaign. She says, “Those of us who could make it to the branch this morning are all eager to restart our businesses; we don’t want to sit down—not for a second. But we need any help that we can get to rebuild and continue moving forward with our lives.”