ESPERA Fund in Haiti
By Renate Schneider
If you are reading this, you have access to electricity. Very likely you also have a roof over your head to keep out the elements, and privacy to go to the bathroom. You turn on the faucet and water comes out. You don't worry about contracting cholera. Not so in Haiti. And yet, it often does not take a whole lot to make a difference.
Mothers' Club of L'Artiboliere Committee and Renate Schneider
In October of 2010 a new ESPERA Fund grant was established in a remote rural community in south west Haiti. The community of Artiboliere has had a mothers' group for a number of years. The women get together on a regular basis to discuss issues of concern to them, and more importantly to support each other in the difficult circumstances they confront daily. The Mother's Club has 25 core members.
When they first learned of Mary's Pence ESPERA Funds they met for several hours to talk about how they would use the fund, how they would structure the loans, and what businesses could be started or enhanced. They lost no time in imagining their future.
"If it was not for the ESPERA Fund grant, I would not be able to send my children to school," says Dieula Paul, 38, and mother of four. With funds from a loan she buys corn and beans or whatever is in season from the farmers, and sells these items in the city of Jeremie. For 46-year-old Dominique Yanik it is simple, without the loan which allows her to sell wood for house construction, her four children would still be walking around barefoot. But with the profits from her business she has been able to buy shoes for all of them.
Members of the Mother's Club of L'Artiboliere
The mothers group chose the first recipients of the ESPERA Fund loans by consensus of all its members. This was a very important process for the group, and it avoided any semblance of favoritism and jealousy. The group chose five women for this initial pilot. All five received some basic training in how to run a business, from making a business plan to reinvesting some of the profits back into the business. The groups also decided by consensus that they would set the interest rate at 3% for this first round. They proudly report that in December they made their first payments and opened up a bank account.
Mirloudes Laurant is a 35-year-old mother of four and sole support of her family. She sells kerosene for lamps. She says, "Since I started this business my life has really improved." Guilna Francois, 37, buys a goat every week, then slaughters the goat and sells the meat at the market. One of her four children goes to school in Port au Prince, and she has spent many sleepless nights not knowing how she could continue to send support money for food. Now she can sleep, because she has some income. Esther Jean Jacques is a young 25-year-old mother who buys cosmetic products in Port au Prince and then sells them in her community. Every one of these women found something they could do with a small loan, and that has made all the difference for them, their children, and their community.
Renate Schneider received a Mary's Pence study grant in 2009 to work on a Master of Pastoral Studies at Catholic Theological University in Chicago. She visited Haiti in 2000 and fell in love with the country. She visits Haiti many times a year and has worked on issues of housing, mental health, education, and the welfare of children. Renate is Mary's Pence liaison to the Mothers' Club of l'Artiboliere, acting in a support role to the group. Renate is founder of an organization called Hatian Connection
Issues of Justice
Standing in Solidarity with the Women of Haiti
Haiti is one of the poorest countries in the world. A year ago today Haiti experienced a disaster that killed over 200,000 people and dislocated 1.3 million more. Though instigated by an earthquake, structural issues magnified the impact. Conditions on the ground in Haiti remain grim.
Youtube - Haiti One Year After the Earthquake
Mary's Pence is pleased that in a small way we are supporting the people of Haiti. This past fall we started an ESPERA Fund with Mothers' Club of l'Artiboliere, a group near Jeremie, Haiti. Help us continue to support the women of Haiti by donating to Mary's Pence. Mary's Pence works closely with our ESPERA Fund grantees. You can be sure that a contribution designated for Haiti will go directly to grassroots needs there.
Our faith calls us to global solidarity with our brothers and sisters around the world. It proclaims that we are our brothers' and sisters' keepers, wherever they live. We are one human family, whatever our national, racial, ethnic, economic, and ideological differences. Solidarity means that "loving our neighbor" has global dimensions in an interdependent world. Global Solidarity is one of the 10 themes of Catholic Social Teaching.
Thank you for supporting Mary's Pence in standing in global solidarity with the women of the Americas.
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Lenten Soup Supper
Many faith communities gather at this time of year, to share a simple meal and focus on prayer and reflection. It's easy to organize a gathering for your community, and Mary's Pence can help. We can provide the materials for a short program highlighting issues of women and poverty, and the call to social justice, the call to standing in solidarity with the poor. The packet provides a short video, discussion questions and prayers and reflections. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call the office at 718-720-8040 and we'll get you started. It's not too early to get a gathering on the calendar, Ash Wednesday is March 9th.
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You care about women. When you see injustice you feel a bit of outrage. We know this because you are a supporter of Mary's Pence! Your contributions to Mary's Pence create opportunity for women across the Americas! Because of you women are building businesses, gaining skills and confidence, and changing their lives. They are speaking in their communities about their experiences, hopes and dreams, bringing the message of justice to others.
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Contact the office for more information.
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Mary's Pence - Who Are We?
We are a small organization with a big vision. We want women in the Americas living in poverty to have a say and a hand in how poverty can be alleviated and social equity achieved. Therefore we invest in local women who are creating models to increase women's economic status and improve their status in their community. We look for models that foster women working together, to learn from each other, support each other, and explore new ideas. We fund women in North, Central and South America.
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Help us see that your plan is not established
until all are allowed to contribute their unique talents.
Help us realize that none of us can move forward as long as one of us is left behind.
Help us work not in competition for our own gain or purpose,
but rather in cooperation towards fulfillment
of your plan for us all.
We pray "Thy kingdom come, thy will be done."
And we work towards that.
-John Clossick, USA, from Prayer Without Borders: Celebrating Global Wisdom, published in 2004 by Catholic Relief Services