Sunday, April 15, 2012

Women in the Crochet Project

"Now, when the man hits the women, she no longer has to accept it because she can earn her own money now."
Quote from one of the older women in the Fanm pou Fanm Project

"Now, I can hope to finish high school. Maybe I can attend university. I want to be a nurse, with the money I earn now, I can maybe become a nurse. I want to dream of this possibility."
Quote from one of the younger women in the Fanm pou Fanm Project

Group Photo
Some Finished Bags
"Haiti had a very strong tradition in crochet, however with the economic downturn that the island nation has experienced over the past 20-30 years, this tradition has largely become lost. Some of the older women still knew how to crochet and told stories of crocheting clothing, bags, table cloths, etc. when they were younger. However, with people barely surviving and yarn being almost impossible to purchase (aside from some acrylic and nylon type thread), crochet has not been taught to the younger women. It is really exciting to not only provide women with economic opportunities through the project, but also to know that we are in essence reviving an almost lost tradition." -Vera Sanon (co-founder of Fanm pou Fanm)

Below are photos and biographies of the 30 girls and women who are participating in the Fanm pou Fanm's Crochet Project:

This entry will be updated with more photos and biographies during the upcoming week. We still need to post 10 more photos with biographies. Please keep checking...

Claudette Caster
Claudette is 28 years old and has no children. She lost most of her family members in the earthquake. She currently lives in the camp and considers herself fortunate because she was able to enroll in high school to finish her high school diploma. She is in 11th grade and has one more year to go. She thought that she would have to drop out of school because she had no money to pay for the upcoming tuition. With the project, she can finally finish high school.

Marie Carmelle Andrice
Marie Carmelle is a 31-year-old single mother of one daughter who is 9 years old. Her daughter is currently not enrolled in school because Marie Carmelle did not have the money to pay the tuition for this semester. Marie Carmelle lives with her parents and daughter in the camp. She is quick to smile and always loves to joke around even though life has been hard since the earthquake. She is proud to have a 9th grade education and the fact that she learned bookkeeping. She has been unemployed since the earthquake because the business where she was employed was destroyed.

Marie Tessie Pierre
Marie Tessie is a 17-year-old young lady who is very smart and sweet natured. She developed into such a great crocheter that we use one of her finished bags as a prototype for others to use as a guide. Marie Tessie considers herself as very fortunate to have survived the earthquake though her parents died. She currently lives with family members who took her in, but she has to work as a maid in order to "pay" for her room and board. She dreams of attending university and plans on taking the entrance exams though she realizes that this will probably won't be possible because of her current situation. However, she says that she is free to dream and university is her dream.

Roselaine Colas
Roselaine is a 38-year-old single mother of five children. The father of her older four children died in the earthquake. She lives with her children in the camp. About a year ago, she met a man, she thought loved her and her children. As soon as she became pregnant, the father of her 3-month-old baby started to beat her. She is now on her own again with two daughters (13 & 16), two boys (10 & 6) and a three-month-old baby boy. She said that she had considered relinquishing the baby to an orphanage but with the crochet project, she has renewed hope that she can feed her family. Roselaine was only able to attend school for the first grade and is illiterate. Her two daughters are in school but her two school-age sons are not attending school because she cannot afford the tuition.

Jean Marie Lourdes
Jean Marie is a single mother of a two-year old girl. She is also responsible for caring for her sister's and brother's four children because her siblings died in the earthquake. She has a third-grade education. She had a difficult time learning how to crochet and has yet to finish a bag, but is determined to become proficient so that she can earn money to feed the children.

Cleanne Blaise
Cleanne is 68 years old, is single and has no children. She worked as a maid all of her life. She has health issues and cannot work as a maid any longer. Life is difficult for Cleanne because she can no longer work and is dependent on hand-outs from others who have very little to begin with. She learned to crochet as a young girl when she grew up in the country. She had not crochet for many years and had a very difficult time the first few days until we got her some reading glasses. Now, that she can see close-up, her crochet is absolutely stunning. Cleanne is so happy to be part of the project and has a positive outlook again. 

Roselain Louis
Roselain is 65 years old, is married to a man who was severely injured in the earthquake and who can no longer work. She lives in the camp with her husband and two sons (16 & 18). She never had a chance to attend school and is illiterate. Her sons had to drop out of school and are the sole financial support. Both boys try to get jobs as day laborers. Roselain has had a difficult time learning how to crochet and is working on her first bag, but she is determined to become a proficient crocheter and to financially contribute to her family.

Mitoude Maccelus
Mitoude is a 17-year-old young lady with the most beautiful voice! She lives with her sister (Roseline Maccelus) and her mother in the camp. Her father was killed in the earthquake. Mitoude realizes that a singing career would be a one-in-a-million chance, so she has her heart set on becoming a pediatrician because she loves children. Mitoude is enrolled in school and is very proud that she is currently finishing 9th grade. Her mother works to support both Mitoud and Roseline by doing other people's laundry. Mitoude is so excited to be part of the project because she wants to financially contribute to the mother's income without having to quit school.

Roseline Maccelus
Roseline is Mitoude's older sister. She is 21 years old and is also finishing 9th grade. She said that before her mother was able to wash other people's clothes, something that she has done for the past 10 years, she was not able to pay for Roseline's school tuition. Like Mitoude, Roseline is so excited to contribute to her family's income. She dreams of becoming a nurse. Also, she wants to move into a "real house" and hopes that this will be a possibility with the crochet project.

Nadine Dutervile
Nadine is a 32-year-old single mother of three girls, aged 15, 12, and 7. Nadine finished 2nd grade and tries to find odd jobs where she can. The father of her girls was killed in the earthquake. Currently, all three girls live in an orphanage that is run by SOS Childrens Village. She wants to be reunited with her daughters but does not have the financial means to send them to school. At SOS, her daughters are able to go to school. 
Chery Marie Jossee
Chery is a 39-year-old widowed single mother of four children. She has three daughters, aged 16, 12, and 3 and one son, aged 8. Chery lives with her children at a neighboring camp. When a friend told her about our project, she says that she hoped that we would accept her even though she lives in a different camp. She is very proud that she was able to attend school until 8th grade, but then had to leave because she had to help financially support her family. Only her oldest daughter is currently attending school. She is hoping that through the project she can send her younger children to school as well.

Marie Suze Bigord
Marie Suze is 22 years old, she is single and has no children. She is trying to finish high school. She lost her immediate family in the earth quake and has been living on her own since. She took to crochet like a fish to water and is one of the ladies who finished not only the regular market bag, but also the more complicated design. I asked her to be in charge of the small group of women who is making the more complicated design. She finished 9th grade and desperately wants the chance to finish high school. When I asked her about her dream career, she responded that it is too dangerous to dream since when those dreams do not come true, one is left with too many tears. 

Wana Jeliscard
Wana is a 22-year-old single mother who has an 18-month-old daughter. She said that when she became pregnant with her daughter, the father hit her. She left him and does not know what became of him since she has not seem him since the earthquake. She has a 6th grade education and currently lives with a relative for whom she cleans, cooks and washes clothes in exchange for shelter. Since this leaves her without the opportunity to earn money, she is excited about the project. She was able to crochet beautiful bags within a few days.

Marie Claude Antenor
Marie Claude is a 28-year-old married mother of four boys, aged 12, 8, 5, and 3. Her husband tries to find odd jobs as a day laborer and often comes home without having worked. She never had a chance to attend school. All of her sons are not enrolled because there is no money to pay for tuition. She lives in the camp with her family. By the end of the week, Marie Claude had not finished a bag yet, but she was working hard to finish her first. 

Claire-Jeanne Pharius
Claire-Jeanne lost both of her parents in the earth quake, she is 24 years old and wishes to finish high-school. Right now, she lives with an aunt. She cooks, cleans and washes clothes for her aunt's family in return for a place to live. She does not get paid for her work and is hoping that through the money she earns with the crochet, she can pay for her school tuition. When asked what her dreams are for the futures, she simply said that dreaming too far ahead is not good. 

Martha Marie Sillon
Martha Marie is 29 years old and is married. She has two boys age 2 and 5. Her husband found a day laborer job making cement bricks, but employment is day-by-day. She is proud to report that her five-year-old son is enrolled in Kindergarten and that she dreams of ensuring that her two sons are able to attend and graduate school without having to drop out for financial reasons. She is hopeful that through the crochet project she can make this dream a reality. Martha Marie finished 6th grade.

Elizette Mercilus
Elizette is a single mother of a 5-year-old boy. She worked as a maid before the earthquake but lost her job when the owner of the house died and the house collapsed. She has a 7th grade eduction and has tried to find other works since the earthquake without much success. Her extended family lives in Cap Haitian, which is in the north. She is hopeful that she will be able to provide better for her son now that she is working in the crochet project.

Edith Jean
Edith is a 28-year-old single mother of a 7-year-old boy named Jerson. Her son is currently not enrolled in school. She finished 2nd grade and was working as a maid before the earthquake. Like so many of the ladies who had worked prior to the earthquake, she lost her job when the home she was working in was destroyed. Edith was one of the ladies who already knew how to crochet before becoming involved in the project. She learned to crochet from Mexican missionaries and has crochet dresses and table cloths. However, all of her crochet has been done in thin nylon thread (including the dress) because that is all she could find to crochet with. Edith was very helpful in mentoring the other women in learning crochet skills. She also loves to do embroidery.

Venia Brissault
Venia is 16 years old. She lost most of her family in the earthquake, including her father. She lives with her mother in the camp. She is enrolled in 7th grade and wants to make sure that she is able to finish high school because she would love to become a doctor. Since education is not free in Haiti, students have to pay tuition, buy specified school uniforms and all of their books, she is hoping that through the crochet project, she can continue being enrolled in school.

Juslaine Cenobe Alcius
Juslaine is a widowed, 49-year-old mother of four boys. Two of her sons are adults, but two are teenagers, aged 15 and 18. She lives with her sons in the camp.  She was instrumental in getting the crochet project launched. Though she only has a 2nd grade education, she was taught how to crochet as a young girl and has been teaching and mentoring the other women in the project. She is hoping to earn enough money to move out of the camp and to ensure that her youngest sons can finish high school.


  1. "Now, when the man hits the women, she no longer has to accept it because she can earn her own money now."
    Quote from one of the older women in the Fanm pou Fanm Project

    You're doing a great job over there!

    Warm regards,


  2. This is wonderful....thank you for sharing these ladies and their stories. They are beautiful women, every one!

    What just got to me was you posted a couple of the women met men who were nice to them, they got pregnant and THEN the men started hitting them! What men would DO this? I hope those women will one day be able to rise above those men who dont even deserve to wipe their feet!

    Keep doing what you are doing...and continued success with the project!