Shersty Stanton
Shersty Stanton
Haiti 2017 - 2019
Byenveni! Welcome! Join me on a journey to the rural villages of Haiti to use microfinance and savings groups to foster economic growth and community development. As a graduate of Belmont University’s social entrepreneurship program, I look forward to furthering my knowledge of implementing sustainable change in an intercultural setting.
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N’ap Monte

 

 

 

 

“Bonjou!”

Good morning!

“Bonjou!”

Good morning!

“Koman ou ye?”

How are you?

“M’ byen! N’ap monte!”

I’m well! We’re climging!

“Wi! N’ap mounte!”

Yes! We’re climbing!

One thing I’ve learned in my time abroad is that Haitians will often state the obvious when trying to be friendly in passing conversations. The beginning of the month was filled with several hikes up to Disciples’ Village’s partnering village of Vielo to conduct the census of our stunning mountain village. Each hike consisted of dozens of encounters closely relating to the one above. At first I was confused as to why each individual we passed felt the need to remind us that we were climbing (and sometimes crawling), but then I grew to appreciate the reminder that as long as we were climbing we were doing okay. Being stagnant or falling down the mountain would be worrisome.

The beginnings of the hike to Vielo include walking along the aqueduct at the base of the mountain...a place of many greetings in passing and conversations while washing clothes.

The beginnings of the hike to Vielo include walking along the aqueduct at the base of the mountain...a place of many greetings in passing and conversations while washing clothes.

Developing a microfinance program is a lot like climbing a mountain. It’s energizing yet exhausting, glorious yet sweaty and dirty, breath-taking in many definitions of the word, and ambiguous yet filled with a few distinctive paths. Sometimes you have to stop and catch your breath mid-assent while other times you push through until an obvious stopping point is reached, and sometimes what you’re doing isn’t working and you have to climb back down a little ways to try a different path that will take you higher and closer to your goal. Similarly to looking up the face of a mountain and wondering how on earth we will reach the top, when talking to the leaders in our villages I often find myself struck with the magnitude of the need, the difficult circumstances, and seemingly impossibility of the task at hand. The specific needs for microfinance in our communities looks vastly different, and there are many paths to choose when climbing the mountain of microfinance—but what beauty there is to behold with every step!

A picture of some time spend with Ganaud- a house parent for Alex's House, translator who speaks 6 languages, an accounting graduate and former business professor-chatting about business in Haiti and what the people need to know to be successful.

A picture of some time spend with Ganaud- a house parent for Alex’s House, translator who speaks 6 languages, an accounting graduate and former business professor-chatting about business in Haiti and what the people need to know to be successful.

July was an exciting and insightful month here in Haiti! We finished the census of our final partnering villages at the beginning of the month, and I have begun to compile an analysis with recommendations from research and census findings of our partnering villages. Completing the censuses also brought about a lot of helpful information about job and financial opportunities in our partnering villages. In Trouforban there is a small variety of employment options and an abundance of unemployment. Vielo has an overwhelming majority of farmers and a few residents not working because they are too old. Each village has its own challenges, needs, and opportunities, and I look forward to continuing to build relationships with individuals in our communities while gearing up to start a combination of business training, potential micro loans, and savings opportunities as part of our microfinance offerings in the very near future!

Post work week patè! A fried shell with meat, vegetables, and some sauce inside served with pikliz- a spicy Haitian side that resembles slaw

Post work week patè! A fried shell with meat, vegetables, and some sauce inside served with pikliz- a spicy Haitian side that resembles slaw

Two of the teams I worked with at the end of the month spent a week in the village they are partnered with, and I had the joy of getting to build relationships with the children’s leaders in Trouforban (TFB) and some of the women in Dahl. They all provided helpful information to keep me walking towards what microfinance will look like for Disciples’ Village.  In TFB several children’s leaders own small businesses and offered insight on the size and terms of loans needed, shared their interest in business training and development, savings opportunities, etc, and several expressed their desire for a job and some skills they know or would be willing to learn. Dahl on the other hand has a bleak environment for jobs, especially for the women. Of the 12 individuals I talked to, many are willing to learn to sew/other skills and expressed that they could benefit from business training.

These lovely leaders and business people in Trouforban provided an abundance of pertinent information about savings and business in the area!

These lovely leaders and business people in Trouforban provided an abundance of pertinent information about savings and business in the area!

Perhaps the greatest advancement in July was getting to converse with people on the ground in Haiti who have been doing microfinance for several years and tagging along to a monthly meeting for their organization, Kodinasyon Fanm Endepandan Pou Avansman Lakay (KOFAEL). The experience taught me about the logistics and relational aspects of what makes microfinance successful here, including keys to necessary leadership, characteristics of participants, structure of monthly meeting, handling loan and repayment transactions, needed capital for loans, loan sizes, interest rates, and repayment schedules. It was exciting to observe all that I have researched in action, and I’m forever grateful to have met people who are willing to share their knowledge and have many experiences to be learned from. My greatest takeaway is that successful microfinance is often dependent on relationships, relationships, relationships…which was exciting to hear because relationship building is a large part of what I’ve been doing these past few months in our partnering villages! They are essential to the foundational trust and transactional nature of microfinance, and I’m fortunate to have some pretty cool and dedicated people to get to work with over the next few years.

The 'courtyard' of a home in Port au Price where a microfinance group meets once a month to share stories of business, encourage one another, and provide proof of loan repayment

The ‘courtyard’ of a home in Port au Price where a microfinance group meets once a month to share stories of business, encourage one another, and provide proof of loan repayment

The month of July also brought a new understanding of my ‘why’ for my time in Haiti. My softball coach at Belmont, Brian Levin, introduced to me and my teammates the saying, “If you know your ‘why’ you’ll find a way ‘how’”. And although my ‘why’ for life has been pretty evident for a while, a shift in focus from orphan care to orphan prevention—especially through economic development—has brought a burning desire to keep as many children in homes with good parents as possible in my work specific ‘why’. Haiti has an abundance of poverty orphans—children who have at least one living parent—who are in orphanages because their family loves them tremendously but cannot provide for their needs. It is my heart’s desire to see children reunited with their families and to live the way God designed for people to be raised, and it gives me chills to think of the possibilities and opportunities microfinance provides for mothers and fathers to care for their children. Now that I’ve narrowed in on my ‘why’, I trust that it will not be long until the ‘how’ shows itself if I keep seeking, keep building relationships, and keep trusting in our mighty God for guidance.

After speaking with a leader in Barboncourt about banking and business I snuck away to say hello to his daughter and one of my favorite little Haitian ladies...isn't she beautiful?!

After speaking with a leader in Barboncourt about banking and business I snuck away to say hello to his daughter and one of my favorite little Haitian ladies...isn’t she beautiful?!

Once again I end the month in awe of the opportunity, challenge, and excitement that presents itself in the task ahead. I’m thankful for answered prayers and new findings in the world of microfinance in Haiti, and I’m ever expectant for what will emerge in the coming weeks, months, and years with a combination of a little blood, lots of sweat, and a few tears covered by the grace of God.

2 thoughts on “N’ap Monte”

  1. It’s great to see you’re journey is led by a Compassionate God and is a source of rejuvenation 1800 miles away. There are those of us the have thought of doing something similar to what you are doing and probably was even shown the path by God but stopped short of going, I’ve not felt this strongly enough nor seen any direction definitively but because I’m blessed so much with what God has given me I know that He wants me to serve Him in ways that I have fallen short of thus far, it’s great to see that you have not only allowed Him to lead you but with great passion you have sought to serve Him in ways that will help the helpless to become strong but yet know that God is the supplier of their strength. I hope that you will not be held back by man’s hand but only guided and strengthened by the God of saving Grace and that He sends along your path many observances of His mighty work and that those will strengthen you in your resolve, providing you with many valleys in your travels. Thank you for your willingness

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