As a retailer in a local market near Jeanthon II, Haiti, Manoucheka Joseph puts in a long day. At 6 a.m., she packs a black rolling suitcase with her wares—sandals, children’s clothing, and drinks—hails a taxi, and makes her way to the bustling market. She spends the day tending to her stall and helping customers find items, and doesn’t return home until 6 p.m.
Even though Manoucheka was involved with the church in her community, her busy days away from home kept her from getting to know her neighbors. “I didn’t have any friends,” she relates.
Manoucheka also worried about not having enough income to save for unexpected emergencies that might arise—not only for herself but for her 8-year-old son. “Life was difficult,” she recalls. “We earn 100 gourdes, and we spend 100 gourdes. We just live one day at a time, with no hope for the future. So, […] if there’s an emergency situation, how are we going to face it?”
Then, this past February, Manoucheka decided to join Gwoup Epay Debora, the Deborah Savings Group that had started at her church.
Using her loan of 7,200 gourdes from the group, Manoucheka purchased soft drinks to sell for the country’s Flag Day holiday. She explains, “It was a special occasion, and I wanted to use the opportunity to sell drinks to people attending the celebration.” Her profit from the day was enough to repay the loan in full and have funds to take home.
Beyond growing more strategic with her business, Manoucheka says that forming relationships with others has been the most transformative part of joining the group.
“My savings group is like a family,” she shares. “I know if I have a situation, I can count on the members. And the members know if they have a situation, they can count on me. No one is strong or weak in the group; the strong support the weak and the weak support the strong—that’s how we do it in the group.”
Manoucheka experienced this support and care firsthand as she celebrated her birthday. “No one used to wish me happy birthday,” she recalls. But this year, members of Gwoup Epay Debora came to her home to help clean and do laundry, and they also purchased her a black and brown speckled goat as a present.
With a smile so genuine that her eyes shine, Manoucheka tells her group members that she’s hoping her goat will soon be pregnant, so that, “At my next birthday, I can serve you goat!”
Join Manoucheka in praying the Lord’s Prayer in this short video filmed in her hometown of Jeanthon II, Haiti.
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