Amid joyful singing and dancing, the mood of Friday’s CLM graduation retained a sense of solemnity. While all graduations mark achievement, this celebration of over 100 women’s success marked something more—transformation.
As 41-year old Rose Marie Assenne explained, “The person that I was yesterday, I am not the same person any longer.” She explained how CLM taught her how to engage in commerce, allowing her to buy beans to sell and to turn the two goats and a pig with which she started into four goats and a horse.
Rose Marie was one of five women chosen by their respective case managers to share their stories with the crowd. While one case manager lamented that each of the graduates couldn’t speak, he explained, “The women who speak, they speak for everyone.” Each recounted how the CLM program had helped her to escape “misery,” expressing thanks to God, to the CLM program, and to Fonkoze.
But as CLM Director Gauthier Dieudonne told the graduates in a rousing speech, “It is you who have succeeded today. Don’t ever forget that.” Gauthier implored the women to keep up the fight, reminding them that while they have made great progress in their lives, the hard work isn’t over. “I know the route isn’t easy,” he said, “but each time you slip, get up and stand.” He quoted a popular saying, often emblazoned on tap taps (vehicles that serve as public transportation in Haiti): Y’ap pale, n’ap travay. Literally, “They’re talking, we’re working.”
It seems a fitting motto for Fonkoze as an organization—since our inception in 1995, we have worked relentlessly to provide our clients with the services they need to move forward. The CLM program began in 2006 with 150 households, and today, it includes 1,300 members, with 680 graduating this month. By 2015, we hope to reach 5,000 households.
In our work, we’re grateful for moments like these—a chance to celebrate our members’ accomplishments and to draw inspiration for continued progress. Gauthier’s message to the graduates was one for the entire Fonkoze family: “We must continue to fight. We must continue on this road.”