Jean Gislene is on the Move


Jean Gislene is a woman who is going places, and she’s taking her whole community with her.  She’s got big plans to buy some more land (she was already able to purchase some—a big feat in a country where only 9% of women own land), send her kids to school, build a better house, and buy some cattle so she can diversify all of her income.  What made this possible?

Jean is one of 50 caterers for the school feeding program in the Kore Lavi program. As part of the program, she buys local food to cook meals for schoolkids in her community, and Kore Lavi pays her for the work. In six months, Jean has gone from feeding about 15 people as a cook, to feeding 58 schoolkids in her neighborhood.  Her profits have tripled, and now she’s making $60 a week.  It may not sound like much, but the average rural income in Haiti is less than $100 a year, so Jean has seen a huge boost. 

It’s a lot of work.  Jean has to get up at 2am every morning to start getting things ready in time for the school lunch, but that doesn’t bother her.

“It’s my business, and I am proud of it.  Why shouldn’t I work hard?  My husband is very proud of me, too, since I can help provide for the household.  Now we have things we were never able to get before.  My two oldest children couldn’t go to school because we didn’t have any money, but my youngest ones are going to finish their education. Now, the business also gives my older kids work to do so that they have employment.  My sons help me take food up to the school every day. I’m using the extra money I make to expand and diversify my business, so I don’t have to be afraid of changes in the market.”

The income isn’t the only thing that makes Jean proud.  Now, she has a chance to contribute to her community. Her business isn’t just for her; it’s for everybody.

“The kids at school are learning better than before because they are well fed.  They don’t have headaches from the hunger any more. With the training and the menus from CARE, I cook them meals that have more vegetables and lots of vitamins. Kids are healthier.  And I know that I need to wash my hands very carefully and only use clean water to make sure that no one gets sick.  Everything in my kitchen needs to be very clean.”

As with so many development programs, Jean proves that women are going places.  All we need to do is give them a boost, and get out of their way. Given the chance, Jean isn’t going places alone—all of the kids at school are coming, too.


About the Program: In August2013, the  USAID FFP funded Kore Lavi program was launched to support a  Government of Haiti led social safety net to improve access to food and nutrition for the most vulnerable households in Haiti. The program works through the partners CARE, World Food Programme, Action Contre la Faim, World Vision, and the Ministere des Affairs Sociaux et du Travail (MAST) to accomplish its goals. This program is made possible by the generous support of the American people through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). The contents are the responsibility of CARE – Haiti and do not necessarily reflect the views of USAID or the United States Government.