Until now, the nearest place to buy over-the-counter health products was more than an hour away from people living in Odette Midi’s community near La Vallée-de-Jacmel, Haiti. It meant that rather than making the long trek by foot, Odette’s friends and neighbors would occasionally risk letting illnesses and wounds go untreated. As a result, illnesses would often worsen and infections would set in.
Odette is trying to change this through her boutik sante (community health store). Her participation in Fonkoze’s Boutik Sante Program – an innovative social enterprise that expands access to health products, education and services in rural Haiti – is enabling her to do just that.
The Program has helped Odette to expand her business and gain skills to serve as a valuable resource in her community. For example, Fonkoze’s registered nurses train Odette and other Fonkoze clients to administer basic screening services (blood pressure, child malnutrition, diabetes, and others) and to incorporate health-related products into their existing businesses. They thus become “Community Health Entrepreneurs.”
When asked about her motivation in life, she says, “I work hard for my eight-year-old daughter. I want to see her succeed in life.” Odette also says that Fonkoze is the one partner she can really rely on. She was able to build a home with profits from her small business, which she expanded with loans from Fonkoze.
Having been a Fonkoze client for over ten years, she has gained the respect of the 55 other Fonkoze clients in her Credit Center, which they named Tèt Ansanm (Heads Together). They even elected her to be their “Center Chief”, a peer-elected leader.
Odette is pleased with the progress she is making, saying, “Before Fonkoze, I was not treated like a person in my community. Now, people call me ‘Nurse Odette’.”