Bénicie’s story is amazing. She is a 55 a year-old farmer and entrepreneur. She has one daughter, but has also adopted a foster child in need. Her husband lives in the Dominican Republic, and only occasionally sends money.
Bénicie graduated from Adult Literacy classes, and has been a part of the Microcredit Program since 2004. She is president of the women’s association in her rural village, which organizes training for female entrepreneurs in partnership with Rayjon. Following a training about business development, she got a loan start a business selling fried foods. She has had several business ventures, but this one is her most profitable. She says that the skills she acquired in the trainings have given her capacity to earn more. With her profits she has saved enough money to be able to rent land and also do agriculture. Today she is able to feed and care for her family independently.
Bénicie has become an advisor for the women’s association, and encourages other young women to use business to overcome difficult living conditions in Haiti. Along with some of her neighbours she participates in a “group of mutual solidarity,” pooling their money to support other adults in need to set up small businesses.
(Note: Bénicie also has a beautiful singing voice. You can hear her sing, “Women are Like Reeds,” an anthem about the strength and resilience of Haitian women below)
Yvanne is a 34-year old merchant with three children. She is an active member of the women’s association in her village, which encouraged her to start a business. Stories like hers demonstrate the success of the microcredit program. Yvanne received (and successfully repaid) four microcredit loans from Rayjon since 2005 before becoming the self-sufficient entrepreneur she is today. She began by selling flowers and decorative ornaments purchased in the capital for resale in her community. She says this was just “a test which prepared her for a clothes business” today. Yvanne received training that provided her with maturity and knowledge to grow her business.
Today she earns a healthy profit and no longer needs loans. With her earnings she purchases and breeds goats and ducks. Her neighbors help feed and care for the animals, and they share the baby goats. During the current political crisis, she also works alongside her husband in agriculture because the risk of losing money in the marketplace is high. When the children need shoes, uniforms and funds for school tuition they discuss together and can find something in the garden to sell to meet those needs. Most of their food in grown in their own garden.
Yvanne, along with some of her neighbours also participates in a “group of mutual solidarity,” pooling their money to support other adults in need to set up small businesses. She is grateful for the training and loans she received and encourages Rayjon to continue contributing to stories like hers through community development initiatives.
Marianne & Michal, Haiti
Marianne is a single mother with 4 small children. Her youngest, Michal is only 15 months old. The family was housebound for most of October 2019, during the height of the violent protests in Cap Haitien—unable to venture to the marketplace and with no other means of support. For 6 days they went with only crackers and water.
At the Rayjon-supported Nutrition Centre, Michal received emergency treatment for severe malnutrition. He is slowly gaining weight and is expected to make a full recovery. The family has been placed on the “Red Zone” list of most vulnerable families, and Centre staff will make sure they receive the care they so desperately need.
Stories like theirs remind us there is hope in a seemingly hopeless time.
Titita, Dominican Republic
Titita lives in the marginalized neighbourhood of Barrio 41, Consuelo, DR. She operates a colmado—the Dominican equivalent of a corner store—in the front of her home. She is using a microloan provided by Rayjon to grow her business. She has named the store “Dios Vivo” (Living God). She says God gave her the store and its name.
Her store is located directly across from the Rayjon-supported preschool and sells a variety of packaged food items and household goods. Titita’s house was damaged during Hurricane Matthew in 2017. Extra income will go a long way to helping her maintain her household.
With Rayjon’s help, Titita is able to access additional capacity-building classes that will help her gain skills as an entrepreneur. She is also a proud member of the local women’s group, and looks forward to seeing positive changes in her community this year.
We look forward to hearing those stories!
Celiana & Jhonny, Dominican Republic
Documentation is a huge barrier for families in the neighbourhood of Barrio 41, where Rayjon supports a preschool/nutrition centre and programs for women. Many of these families are of Haitian decent, though they have lived in the DR for generations. Their stories are difficult: they face daily discrimination and without proper documentation don’t have access to basic human rights like health care and education.
Rayjon is working in partnership with ASCALA, an organization headed by Brazilian nuns in Consuelo. ASCALA’s highly qualified legal team and have been working diligently to assist families from some of the most impoverished communities who struggle to gain the documents they need to legally live, work, and access vital services.
Celiana, who is the cook at the preschool in Barrio 41, and her brother Jhonny, are two of the more difficult cases being worked on. Celiana was widowed three years ago, leaving her to raise four children on her own. The small stipend she receives for cooking at the preschool is her only means of support. For Celiana to get her paperwork, her mother (Haitian) must first be assisted. This is especially important to Celiana because she does not have legal documentation for her four children. Her eldest is at the top of her class in high school, but won’t be able to apply to university without the paperwork. With each stage of paperwork costing between $200 and $300 USD, the dream of legal status would be impossible without the help provided through the pilot documentation project
Jhonny is an active volunteer at the Centre, where his two young sons attend preschool. His identification was annulled when it was discovered that it contained false information. A Dominican friend of the family, trying to help, had agreed to declare that she was the mother when Jhonny was born, in the hopes that he could become a Dominican citizen. Now it will be very difficult for Jhonny to reapply for documentation, as his credibility is in question because of this false declaration. ASCALA is first trying to help his biolgoical mother get her documentation. It is not certain if Jhonny will eventually be successful, but we will do what we can to help! Blood tests will be required to confirm the true maternity. Additionally, if Celiana’s file is successful it may add some credibility to Jhonny’s case.
Rayjon’s Impact on the World
Children educated from preschool to grade 13
Pairs of prescription eyeglasses distributed in 9 countries
Vaccinations for children and adults
Impoverished elementary & secondary students received tuition support to attend school
Women received loans & training to start small businesses
Malnourished children received life-saving treatment
Adults learned to read & write
Dorcin was orphaned at a young age and had no other means of help. Through Rayjon he received support to attend elementary and secondary school. He struggled with academics in secondary school, so was offered the opportunity to participate in a pilot program offering vocational skills training. He learned about heavy equipment operation, and he is very proud to have (and show off) his certificate. Now he wants to give back. Of the vocational program he says: