A widow who lived on her own, Sonia supported herself by selling biskwit, a bread common in rural Haiti, which is baked in large, rectangular sheets, scored and then separated into little squares to sell. Each day, she would buy a few sheets from a local baker, and then carry them around the neighborhood in a basket on her head. Life seemed to be going well, as she was able to live a productive and self-sufficient life.
Sonia’s life would later take a turn for the worse however. A few years ago, she suffered from a minor stroke, losing much of the use of her right arm and leg. Having no access to physical therapy, she never regained most of the mobility she had lost. As a result of this new physical limitation, she could no longer run the small business she had worked so hard to build.
Unable now to do even the simplest things, her neighbors worried that she could not take care of herself anymore. Sonia was more vulnerable than ever: living in isolation with no viable way to support herself. Even after she was selected by Fonkoze to participate in its CLMD (CLM for persons with disabilities) program, she still wondered if she could really turn her life around for the better. She would soon discover this was truly possible.
As part of the CLMD program, Sonia gained access to physical rehabilitation through our partnership with Partners in Health. Additionally, to begin the process of attaining financial security, she was asked to choose two enterprises to develop upon joining the program. She chose a pig and small commerce. Using the funds the program provided her, she bought sacks of charcoal from people who walked down the long dirt road that passed by her home. She would then separate the charcoal into small bags and sell them to her neighbors. Her business began to flourish and she would soon earn enough income to allow her to add other products to her business.
When it came time to graduate from the CLMD program, Sonia admitted she was sad because she had gotten used to the CLMD team being there. So it was no surprise to see how thrilled she was when she learned the team would still visit her for six more months to follow-up on her progress.
Through this guided process, Sonia regained the confidence she had lost and discovered a newfound sense of hope and purpose.
On behalf of Sonia and so many others like her, we thank you for making stories like this possible.