Rose Marthe stood timidly, her eyes on the floor, as Martinière (her Fonkoze case manager) introduced her to a room of graduates who, like her, have successfully completed Fonkoze’s 18 month graduation approach program for the extreme poor – called, Chemen Lavi Miyò (CLM), or Pathway to a Better Life. He spoke of Rose’s courage, determination and how she was able to pull herself through a bout with cholera, a potentially fatal bacterial disease usually spread by contaminated water.
When it came time for her to speak to the crowd, though, Rose’s demeanor had changed. With the microphone in her right hand, she did a quick spin to show off her colorful ensemble before saying, “My life was miserable. Today, when I think back on those times, I feel like now I’m really on a roll. I feel so good now that I should sing you a song.” This is a very different woman compared to the one who reluctantly decided to join the program 18 months ago.
Steven Werlin, CLM’s Communication & Learning Officer, recalls the first time he visited Rose to verify a case manager’s recommendation that she be invited to join the program. “The evidence was all around me: the decaying shack, the hungry little children clinging lifelessly to her, the lack of any signs of livestock.” In short, she and her children were living in utter destitution.
Rose is living quite a different life today. Her hard work, paired with the support she has received from Fonkoze, has allowed her to pursue a new life full of promise and possibilities. Earning a modest living now, her children are able to attend school and she is able to feed them a decent meal every day.
Now, when faced with challenges, she can meet them with courage, knowing that she has a new set of tools and skills at her disposal.