An Update from One of Fonkoze’s Clients -- Precieuse Jeune, Miragwan
Report by Linda Boucard, Fonkoze USA Director of Communications
Miragwan is small coastal town in western Haiti. It is viewed as a major port for the trade of used goods or pèpè, as the Haitian people says. Selling of used merchandise (mostly from Miami and other parts of the US) is very big business for many small micro-entrepreneurs. The port was also used by Reynold Metals aluminum for bauxite export which was mined inland from the 1960s to the 1980s.
Miragwan, fortunately, was not hit as hard as some neighboring towns by the recent earthquake. There is, however, some very heavy damage to several important buildings in the small town. The Fonkoze office in Miragwan stands and awaits evaluation by an engineer. While I was there, an aftershock occurred that sent everyone out of the building around 1:15pm. Like most people around Haiti these days, there is a profound fright that more is to come, they are very scared and most are sleeping in makeshift tents in their yards or nearby “tent cities” using sheets and pieces of wood to secure a sheltered space. The rainy season is coming and this will aggravate an already dire situation. The Miragwan branch director lost his mother-in-law and 4-year-old niece who lived with him, when his home entirely collapsed on January 12. However, the office is open for business and is busy. Miragwan Fonkoze branch has over 1,600 solidarity clients and more than 420 ti kredi clients.
Precieuse Jeune has been a Fonkoze client for almost 4 years. She is a member in the solidarity group which call themselves “ Gwoup Fanm Siksè “ or group of successful women. Her small restaurant business was thriving, and she had a flow of steady costumers. “Since joining Fonkoze, my life really changed, I was serving my food on the streets, under a bed sheet, with Fonkoze, I was able to build this little restaurant and even had a couple of bulbs with electricity in there”. Precieuse is 50 years old, she has 3 grown children, 2 of whom are living with her, a 95 year old disabled mother, and 2 grandchildren. She supports all of them. “My kids are grown, that is good, one works in Port-au-Prince, and the other 2 work with me at the restaurant, help me cook, serve and so on”. Her oldest son was spared in the ravage of the earthquake.
Today, 3 weeks after the devastation, Precieuse, her mom, her kids and grandkids are all sleeping under some bed sheet tents in the yard of her home. Her home, although standing is riddled with cracks and is unsafe. They sometimes rush in during the day to save what they can before it totally collapses. Ointment covers the forehead of her granddaughter where mosquitoes have bitten her. But, Precieuse is still so very grateful “ my family is ok, my restaurant is ok, I lost some assets, but I am alive and I can continue to work. I will fix my home when I can.” Precieuse lost many of her regular clients, her business is not as prosperous, but she is working. She is worried that for the first time since she has been with Fonkoze, she might be late with her loan repayment….but she says “I will work hard so that will not happen, I love Fonkoze and I want to continue be a good member.