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#2019: Something Works in Haiti-- Chris-Shelane replies
From: chris-shelane <email@example.com>
(by the way machann = market woman, anyone selling small items in the
street. Madam sara = middle-man/woman, who buys from producers and sells to
the machann - please if anyone has a better definition, tell me!).
I would like to heartily endorse what you said about machan and madam sara.
I recently did an article for the Haitian Times on a micro-credit program
in a poor area of portauprince, St-Martin. I was amazed by the vibrancy and
dynamism of the area, everybody was involved in economic activity,
including manufacture (of course of a rudimentary, cottage industry type -
even below what we usually consider as cottage industry). But it's very,
very precarious. One theft, one death in the family can throw everything
out of the window. The machan (or handicraftsman, or tailor) then has to
start all over again.
It ties in with a theory about what was often said about the Haitian
revolution / independence. It was in the culture of the people to prefer to
work on their own tiny piece of land, no matter how unprofitable it was,
than to work for someone else, on someone else's land. That theory has to
do with the famous 'tie to the land', but maybe it can be translated to an
urban setting. One schoolboy I spoke to who worked for a candle maker said
he didn't want to work in a 'faktori' (the sub-contracting factories in the
industrial park), he wanted to set up as a candle maker in his own right.
People prefer the independence of having their own little affair, to having
a guaranteed (although admittedly miserable) wage in the faktori.
By the way I see that the netiquette is to introduce oneself as a new
subscriber. I'm sorry I've been very rude and haven't done so. I've been in
Haiti and have worked in NGOs mostly for the past 3 years, although recently
I've made a move in to freelance journalism, working for the HT and Reuters.
Glad to be part of the list!