“Women in Action” are a Force of Change in Haiti
Written by Plant With Purpose on May 21, 2015 in General, Haiti
High in the hills outside Haiti’s infamous capital Port-au-Prince, farming families in remote communities suffer from an overlooked form of poverty. Rural poverty means services like grocery stores, banks, and health clinics are hours away. Electricity and water do not automatically flow from a tap or outlet to provide for basic household needs. Families survive off what they can grow from the land. Yet despite clear obstacles, women in rural villages are anchoring their communities by creating social and economic solutions to poverty’s challenges.
Nearly a year ago, Plant With Purpose joined forces with PCI (Project Concern International) to incorporate their Women Empowered (WE) methodology into our economic empowerment program. WE is an initiative of PCI dedicated to empowering women both economically and socially. By incorporating social empowerment projects into traditional VSLA groups, Plant With Purpose officially launched five WE groups in Haiti. WE groups include projects that create community improvements such as developing a community center, increasing access to local markets, teaching compost workshops, improving transportation for easier access to emergency services, and constructing cisterns to lessen the time it takes to collect water.
These projects focus on issues that plague females in rural communities, chipping away at challenges that daily consume women’s time, effort, and energy.
In March, Plant With Purpose U.S. staff visited the “Fanm En Aksyon” or “Women In Action” WE group in Fonds-Verrettes. These 30 women in action proved to be some of the most efficient and effective VSLA members across our programs, wrapping up a formal meeting—usually over an hour—in only 35 minutes. Members use the funds saved in this group to grow businesses, pay for school fees, and even build houses.
A social workshop followed the savings portion of the meeting. At each gathering, a woman presents a particular topic or issue and helps the group create an action plan. This particular workshop focused on family planning. A group member presented her research on everything from definitions to contraceptive options. Through a simple discussion, the women took hold of their power to give birth and celebrated the beauty of their role as mothers.
As the meeting concluded, Plant With Purpose Haiti’s country director, Guy, asked a pointed question. He wanted to know how many government officials these women know.
One member spoke for the group. “None! They are focused on working elsewhere and do not focus efforts here in Fonds-Verrettes. It is really important to take charge of our power to have kids, raise them well, educate them, and build this community ourselves. In doing this, we will be organized and may even bring those government officials to listen to us because of the strength we bring.”
Through collaboration with PCI and the incorporation of social projects into savings groups, Plant With Purpose empowers women to be forces of change. Today rural communities in Haiti are changing for the better thanks to mothers, sisters, and daughters.