Rebuilding lives: Stories of our emergency response to the Haiti earthquake 2010

Things will get better

Oxfam helped women like Marie Carole Boursiquot run community canteens in the wake of the Haiti earthquake.
Photo: Kateryna Perus

Marie Carole Boursiquot was one of 56 women who ran Oxfam’s first community canteens in Port-au-Prince after the earthquake. Oxfam supported her financially so she could feed 80 of the most vulnerable people in her community and make a profit as a first step to regaining her own means of subsistence.

She operates a small market stall in a poor area of Port-au-Prince packed with buildings damaged by the earthquake. The gravel paths in the area are still covered with a thick layer of rubble.

“Things were difficult right after the earthquake, but we’re Haitian so we have to get up and move forward. The work at the community canteen really helped me; I was able to set some money aside to start my business back up. Now I have my own stall again.

"Every week while I ran the canteen I would put aside some of the profits and send the girls out to buy things for my shop. I also borrowed a little money so that I could buy the rest of the stock. Now I am selling all kinds of things: rice, sugar, beans, pasta, coal, shampoo…”

Using some of the profits she made running the community canteen, Marie Carole can again operate her small market stall.
Photo: Kateryna Perus

 

“I went all the way down to Croix Bossales to buy the stock at the market there. My brother helped me. With the canteen and now this stall at least we can all eat. Since the earthquake there have been ten of us living together in the same shelter with a metal roof. But now we have some plastic sheeting, some from Oxfam and some that we bought, so when it rains we don’t get wet like we did before.”

“People from Oxfam (the market support team) came to inspect the site of my old shop. They saw that it was destroyed and they are going to provide me with a shipping container that I can use as a shop and secure storeroom. That will be much better for my business; I will be able to buy more and I will be able to manage my stock better.

“Oxfam is the only organisation helping this whole community. Many things would help me, but I don’t want to ask for too much. You can’t constantly ask for others to give and give. I am satisfied with what God gives me. But, with more money or the container from Oxfam, I would be able to get on even better than now – expand my shop, sell more and make more money to improve our shelter and our life.

“There are always needs, but as long as we are healthy and we have two hands and two feet, we can find things to do. And we will continue living. Things will get better.”

Oxfam’s livelihoods work in Haiti supports people in regaining their means of subsistence and in taking charge of their own lives. Our livelihoods grant programme will reach 30,000 families, or roughly 150,000 people, over the next few months.
 

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