12 New loans were granted in Limbe last week. The women were pleasently surprised as the last set of 10 loans was just in May and we were not expecting to be able to fund another group until later this fall. A large monetary donation from Amo Methodist Church in SW Minnesota made this extra group possible.
Due to the generosity of our donors during the Mother’s Day Fundraiser, we were able to start 10 new loans in both Limbe and Ranquitte.
Due to the start of the rainy season in Haiti and because Ranquitte is a more remote location, the 10 loans here are being administered as women are able to travel and we don’t have pictures of the full group.
We were fortunate to receive our non-profit status only 2 days before Give to the Max Day in Minnesota. Due to the generosity of our donars and a $4000 match, we raised almost $11,000. 20 new loans were awarded in Limbe and 10 loans in Ranquitte. This brings our total to 87 loans in Limbe and 24 loans in Ranquitte. The first 4 groups in Limbe have paid back their original loans (in addition to interest) and have been granted a second loan amount for $225.
I had a chance to visit with some of the previous loan recipients while I was in Haiti in November. They were most excited by the fact that our program had continued to expand and was still operating. Apparently, other organizations have proposed similiar microfinancing ideas but failed to follow thru with funds or ran out of funding soon after granting the first loans. They were also appreciative that Helping Haiti Work does not dictate what types of businesses they operate. Often what they resell in the market changes depending on what the needs of the community dictate. Their last request of me – “We would like more loans for our friends and to be able to qualify for bigger loans for ourselves when we have proven that we are a good risk”. Our job at Helping Haiti Work is to be able to grant those requests thru more fundraising.
While in Haiti last week on a medical mission trip, 2 of our board members took a side trip to Ranquitte for 24 hours to see first hand the initial loan group of 7 women and distribute solar powered cell phone chargers to the second group of 5 women. Father Charles, the priest who has assisted us with finding the local women, meet us at the airport in Cap Haitian and then drove us the 2 hours over 30 miles of rutted, pothole filled roads into the mountains of the central part of the island. We crossed 3 streams by driving thru them and then wound our way up the side of a mountain, descending into the valley between mountains where Ranquitte is situated. We were quite impressed by the cleanliness of the paved main street and even filled garbage receptacles by the side of the road. Father Charles gave us a tour of the school that he has started, currently with an enrollment of 400 students at a cost of $12 per year.
Since Ranquitte has no electricity, all work occurs during daylight hours. The Catholic church service started at 7 am and lasted for 2 hours. Following mass, we met with all of the microfinance women and gave instructions on the new cell phone chargers. It was during this part of our visit that we learned that one of our loan recipients had walked 4 hours from her home in the mountains to be at the 7 am mass and receiver her charger. Most of her walk had to have been in the dark if she arrived in Ranquitte at 7 am.
Another of the original recipients had been widowed and left with 5 children, in addition to another 5 children of her sisters when she also died. She said that the extra money she made with the loan program was helping to provide for one meal a day for her family. This woman traveled that long road to Cap Haitian each week to buy gasoline and then resell in smaller quantities to motorcycle owners in town. All of the women were proud to show us their credit books, with on time payments made each week and the amount to be paid back decreasing. They were eager to pay off their loans so that they could qualify for a second, larger loan and expand their businesses.
A $200 loan to these woman will probably not move them from poverty to a middle class life. However, it will make poverty a little easier when you can count on one meal a day and possibly enrolling your children in the school so that they can have a brighter future.
HHW has started a microcredit program in the remote town of Ranquitte. The following is an update from Marg Brickman on the first batch of loans:
“I met three of the micro loan women while I was in Ranquitte. They seem very excited about their new venture. One is selling gas, another rice and beans, while the third one is selling t- shirts and sandals. Monique is the “principal” of the group, Father Charles said. It is a wonderful program that you have started, Leslee. I pray the program continues to go well for you. You are making a big impact on many women’s lives, along with that of their families!”
– Marg Brickman
15 new loans of $200 each were awarded to women in Limbe, Haiti last week. Since the program has become so popular, we increased the number of women in the most recent group, as the previous groups were usually 7-10 women. Our bank account is now less than $200 and we need to get busy again with fund-raising. A priest from a more rural and impoverished area of Haiti, about 4-5 hours distance, has contacted us and would like to start a small program in his village. He is willing to transport the women 4 hours over very bad roads so that they can get the training needed before receiving their loan. We hope to have enough funds to start this new location later this summer.