Haiti is a nation of heavy burdens. Following the devastating 7.0 magnitude earthquake in 2010, the nation is still struggling, as a windfall of financial support from the around the world met the chaos of poorly functioning bureaucracy. The result was billions of dollars – yes, billions – misspent and wasted, while the people on the ground are still starving, still going thirsty, still exposed to the cruelty of weather and the pain of broken promises.
And now Hurricane Matthew is yet another source of shared pain, shared turmoil. The most powerful hurricane to hit the island nation in more than 50 years, it left thousands dead and served as yet another blow to an already hurting people.
But one group of women on the ground has yet to stop working against this cruel fate. As former Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) writes in Forbes, a small collection of women in Haiti have founded the “Village Savings and Loan Association,” which meets regularly to start and support small businesses. It’s a way of taking back control over their own fates in these times of hardships, and what better way to do that than through economic mobility?
Though they live in extreme poverty, Frist writes that these women are brought together by their hope for a better future.
Their success is measured in the lives of those who have been changed around them:
One woman used the program to afford hospital services after a medical emergency arose during the birth of her child.
Another woman used the program to launch a water treatment business, which has now afforded her with profits that feed her children and set them up for a better future.
And still another woman used the program to open the smallest of businesses – selling bottled drinks on the street – but has now grown her business to buy refrigerators and transportation to expand and sell more drinks in the heat of local communities, a success story of which she is proud.
In a nation where the average person makes just $800 a year, these stories of resilience offer hope in a bleak situation. They may not change the world immediately, but when billions of dollars of outside money was wasted, these people still refuse to give in to despair, and instead are working hard to rise themselves up on their own.
Head over to Forbes for the full story.