This morning we hopped in the truck bed of a tap-tap, the “taxi” of rural Haiti, to ride to the weekly market in neighboring Miragoane. What an incredible sight to see thousands of local vendors selling every imaginable item: fruit, rice, freshly butchered meats, fabric, livestock, sunglasses, and jeans. We had the opportunity to see a number of HOPE’s Savings and Credit Association (SCA) clients in the midst of their commerce, busily selling meat from livestock they raised or homemade bread or candies. They stopped to tell us about how they had used their savings to invest in their businesses and care for their families. Without exception they said that they were glad to be a part of the savings program because it has enabled them to have access to money at critical times when they would not have had it before.
Later we hiked through the countryside outside of Cadiac to visit Luisfils, who serves as the elected president of his savings group. Sitting outside of his home in the shade of dried palms, Luisfils explained to us that through the savings program he has learned to save for the first time. Luisfils has used the savings from his Rotating Savings and Credit (ROSCA)* savings group to pay school fees for his four school-aged children. Without the collective rotating savings from his group, Luisfils would not have had access to enough money to pay the annual fees, and his children would not have the opportunity to receive an education. Luisfils told us that life in Haiti is difficult but that the savings program has helped him to get by in challenging times.
*Members of a ROSCA meet regularly and make equal financial contributions to their group’s savings. Each week the communal savings are given in whole or in part to one member, on a rotating basis. The group continues meeting until all the members have received a one-time collection. At this point the group can decide to continue or to disband.