Behind the Cover: Saint Louis Medecene and his Family
Saint Louis Medecene and his family were featured on the cover of the 2015 FINCA Annual Report. Saint Louis, a farmer in Haiti, has been receiving FINCA’s agricultural loans since early 2015. Learn more about the 1.8 million people FINCA served in 2015 in our Annual Report.
Farming is all Saint Louis Medecene knows. Since a young boy, he has been tending to the land in the highlands of Croix des Bouquets, Haiti. Along with his many brothers and sisters, Saint Louis’ father showed him how to harvest vegetables for the family.
Today, Saint Louis is still farming. Thanks to FINCA loans, his wife and 10 children are benefiting from more produce and more profit.
But Saint Louis hasn’t always had prosperity with his farm. To make ends meet, he would work part-time in construction or clean the yard of an estate. Sometimes, when there was great difficulty in the family, he would reluctantly sell his goats to purchase seeds.
Saint Louis had previously approached several commercial banks to obtain loans but was consistently rejected. “When a FINCA loan officer came to my neighborhood, it was a life saver,” he says. After learning about FINCA’s agricultural loans, Saint Louis was able to purchase okra seeds in bulk. Today, with access to FINCA loans, he doesn’t worry about having to sell his goats.
Saint Louis’ vast farm produces a variety of vegetables and fruits, including spring onions, corn, peanuts, leeks, okra, beans, pistachios, beetroot, yucca, carrots and spices. While he tends to the farm, his wife, Dalia JaNoelle, sells the produce in bulk at the local market. During harvest season, Saint Louis hires six to eight workers from his neighborhood to help pick produce, giving them needed wages and providing food for the day.
“The loans have changed my family’s lives a lot,” he explains.
With the profits from his farm, Saint Louis is able to feed his children, send them to school and purchase clothes for them. He has also begun to save money for his children’s future and medical emergencies.
In October 2015, Saint Louis and his family faced a dire emergency. The area they live in is not safe at night and a trio of hooligans were causing havoc in the neighborhood. They spotted Saint Louis standing by his house and demanded he lay down on the ground. Then they shot him three times in the chest and hit his head with a machete. For a week, Saint Louis sat in a hospital bed struggling for his life. Luckily, he was able to pull through, but the family was left with a large hospital bill. Thankfully, with their increased savings and farm profits, the family was able to pay for the medical expenses.
Today, Saint Louis is back on his feet and dreams of the day he can run a bigger farm. He hopes to plant papaya, a high demand fruit, and sell it to the larger supermarkets to earn more money. Until then, Saint Louis happily continues to do what he knows best – farming and caring for his family.