Azougene: A Haitian Story of Hope Amid Destruction
Written by Kirstie Hibbard on October 14, 2016 in General, Haiti
Hurricane Matthew has proved one of the deadliest storms ever to hit Haiti. Azougene and her family anxiously took cover in their home as trees fell and wind and rain devastated their farm.
The roof of her mother-in-law’s small house next door collapsed, and their outdoor toilet was shattered. Out of the family’s four goats, three were lost. She says almost one hundred percent of her farm is destroyed. The hurricane took almost everything from her family.
Why in the world do they look so happy?
Azougene hasn’t lost hope. Through hard work and her partnership with Plant With Purpose she built what she had before the storm. Today, her family is safe. There is a lot of work to do, but Azougene trusts in a faithful God and knows what it takes to get back on her feet. Plant With Purpose will be there with her.
Just weeks ago Azougene and her family were finally in a good place. With the help of Plant With Purpose their farm flourished with fruit trees, coffee, cacao, breadfruit, banana, corn, and beans. Azougene felt like things were good with her business, her own small store, where she sold their excess produce. During months when their farm was heavily producing, she even sold the excess at the local market.
For so many families in Haiti, this is a time for despair. With their crops destroyed, Azougene’s family has lost their source of food and income. Even if the family was able to replant their crops right now they would go hungry before the farm begins to produce without help.
Luckily, Azougene isn’t alone.
Azougene knows that what she needs right now is work: anything to earn fast income to provide for her family. She explains that she would do anything. Anything from planting trees to building soil conservation barriers, anything. With the Plant With Purpose cash-for-work program, Azougene can get cash in her pocket to feed her family while their farm is replanted and rebuilt. All she needs to do now is join a group.
This system of cash-for-work is one of the most effective ways of getting food to people without undercutting the local farmers and merchants with food to sell. Plant With Purpose is helping families like Azougene’s get through Hurricane Matthew by using funds given for hurricane response to provide day labor for the most affected families. Azuogene can find work clearing roads to market or building soil erosion protection to ensure that the community is better poised for future storms. Donations to Plant With Purpose Haiti help fund the capacity to produce more jobs and pay participants.
Plant With Purpose’s goal is to empower families to grow out of poverty and to flourish, and also to build resilience in times of disaster.
As a member of the local VSLA (Village and Savings Loan Association), Azougene has the security and support of her local savings group. Come January, her group will reach the end of their savings cycle, and she will be able to access her savings.
With the money from cash-for-work and the savings she’s put aside in her savings group, Azougene will be able to sustain her family and slowly rebuild her farm. It will take years to get back to what their farm once was, but they have faith that God will see them through. Azougene’s children will go back to school next week she says. They will keep learning, life will go on. These are the type of stories that Plant With Purpose celebrates. Stories of comeback, of resilience, and of hope.
Today is hard, but Azougene hasn’t lost hope.
She will rely heavily on a God who is unceasingly faithful. In this hope, she recognizes options in a situation where others would find comeback to be impossible.