Back to School: How One Plant With Purpose Farmer Is Giving His Kids Hope for a Better Future

Written by Plant With Purpose on August 1, 2012 in General

By Jimmy Lee, Development Associate

Ready or not, summer break is almost over, and the first day of school is just around the corner. Just as you or your children are excited to begin the new school year, children in many of our partnering communities are also excited for their first day. And for most rural families, sending their children to school is more than just about education—it’s about offering them a chance at a better life and a way to escape poverty.

Earlier this year, I visited Fonds-Verrettes, a small area on Haiti’s border, with a group from San Diego and Minnesota. For about a week we travelled up and down the mountainous roads of Fonds-Verrettes visiting projects and listening to farmers’ stories. This community is located in one of the most remote and difficult-to-farm regions in Haiti, but the resilience and ingenuity of the farmers was truly inspiring.

Farmers in Haiti are working hard to give their children opportunities at a better future and a way to escape poverty. During a visit to a Village Savings and Loan Association (VSLA) group in a community called Babarasa, we met Mr. Michel Meme. This father of two shared his story of how Plant With Purpose and the VSLA group have helped provide for his children’s education. Mr. Meme told us how one day, his children were sent home from school because he did not have enough money to pay for their school fees. So he turned to his VSLA group. Through VSLA, group members save small amounts of money each week and then create a collective fund used to give microloans to group members. These loans are used to start small businesses and invest in farms, but they can also be used for things like school fees.

Mr. Meme took out a loan of 3,000 gourdes (about $71) from his VSLA group to pay for his children’s school fees. By doing this, he wasn’t just sending his kids back to school, but he was also investing in their future.

Mr. Michel Meme’s story has stuck with me. Although I don’t have children of my own, I imagined what it might be like to to look up from farming a rocky hillside to see my children walking home from school, their heads hung down, because their school fees were not paid. Would I have felt anger, shame, or sadness? I don’t know, but what I do know is that as Mr. Meme shared his story that day, he was proud—proud that through the savings and loan group, he was able to support his family, send his children to school, and provide them with a way out of poverty.

To support Village Savings and Loan Associations and fathers like Mr. Michel Meme, click here.

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