Hope, Prayer, and Poverty

Haiti’s women live with violence, destitution–and renewed promise

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Like an increasing number of Haitian women, Madame Dentes Delfoart provides much of her family’s income; she sells small quantities of food from a shed in front of her house. But for other women in this densely populated country, sex is one of the few viable commodities. Unprotected intercourse sells for $1.75; a virgin gets $5.

Women’s hopes were raised in 1994, however, with the return of President Jean-Bertrand Aristide. In a symbolic move, he recently turned over the Quartier Gnralathe military headquarters where many of the nation’s violent coups were planned–to a ministry for women.

Madame Delfoart, 41, shares her small home with two of their four surviving children and her husband, who grows bananas and potatoes. A Pentecostal, she prays, she says, everywhere and at all times.

MADAME DELFOART: My mother was too poor to send me to school, so my work has always been to do a little selling from my house. Three or four times a week I go to the market to buy the things I sell. I go on my burro, so this takes me all day. Monsieur Delfoart does not sell what he grows in his garden, but if he gets a job he gives me the money. Whatever we have to do, I am the one to do it. It makes me sad that we don’t have any money, because I would really like to renovate my house. But still, my family is not really poor. When we’re fine, we’re fine. When we’re not fine, we’re not fine. I can’t change my life.

I’ve had six babies and lost two; my mother made six and lost three. It is God who gives us children, God who decides these things. I gave birth to all my children in my house, with no doctor–I have never been to a doctor–only my mother. My husband stayed outside and prayed for me.

I’m very happy in my marriage; we take care of each other and support each other, we will love each other for life and die together. He is the only man I admire, the only man I confide in. My life is in his hands.

Go to Russia . . .

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THE TRUTH...

is the first thing despots go after. An unwavering commitment to it is probably what draws you to Mother Jones' journalism. And as we're seeing in the US and the world around, authoritarians seek to poison the discourse and the way we relate to each other because they can't stand people coming together around a shared sense of the truth—it's a huge threat to them.

Which is also a pretty great way to describe Mother Jones' mission: People coming together around the truth to hold power accountable.

And right now, we need to raise about $400,000 from our online readers over the next two months to hit our annual goal and make good on that mission. Read more about the information war we find ourselves in and how people-powered, independent reporting can and must rise to the challenge—and please support our team's truth-telling journalism with a donation if you can right now.

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