Haiti is the poorest place Emily Beers has ever been. Life expectancy is 61 years, and in the tiny village of McDonald going to school is optional for children—half the population never learns to read.
It’s here that Beers’ friend Julie Roberts has spent so much time, starting microcredit loans and funding latrine projects.
“Basically, we’re making a small investment to people that can’t afford a business,” Roberts explains. “What they end up doing with the capital is as they make profit, they pay the loan forward to their neighbor, to somebody else nominated in the community, and so it grows exponentially.”
The loans are a way to avoid being dependent on the international community, says Kane Morgan, another one of Beers’ friends on the trip.
“What it ends up doing is empowering the individual to realize, ‘If I put in the hard work, I can better my condition in the long run,’” he says.
Among the businesses is one that purchased a pig, which has since given birth to piglets.
“It’s amazing how something small, like a litter of pigs,” Beers says, “can bring so much hope to an entire village.”
Video by Carey Peterson.
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Additional reading: Three Days in Haiti, Part 1: Meet Julie Roberts by Emily Beers, published June 3, 2013.